At times of grief, it is our close family we turn to for comfort and consolation. One can only imagine the wretchedness
So helpless. So far away. So isolated from his family.
He had not seen
At times of grief, it is our close family we turn to for comfort and consolation. One can only imagine the wretchedness Prince Harry must have felt receiving that dreaded phone call telling him the terrible news that his grandfather had died
Prince Harry, right, pictured with his wife Meghan and his grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh on Christmas morning 2017, had not seen Prince Philip in more than a year
One can only imagine the wretchedness Prince Harry must have felt receiving that dreaded phone call telling him the terrible news that his grandfather had died
But I hope Harry at least had a chance to say goodbye. It is perhaps too fanciful to hope that he apologised to Philip for the damage the interview caused the Royal Family to which Philip devoted his life, sacrificing a stellar naval career
We will never know – nor should we – how often Harry spoke to his grandfather by phone or Zoom in the past year, nor whether there was any communication when Philip was seriously ill in hospital before he returned home to die.
We do know they did talk though. Harry joked to comedian James Corden how Philip would slam his laptop shut instead of hanging up after Zoom calls.
But I hope Harry at least had a chance to say goodbye.
It is perhaps too fanciful to hope that he apologised to Philip for the damage the interview caused the Royal Family to which Philip devoted his life, sacrificing a stellar naval career.
In stark contrast to Harry and Meghan, Philip always put honour and duty before his own pride and sometimes restless spirit. He wasn’t just the Queen’s ‘strength and stay all these years’, as she told us on their golden anniversary, he was the nation’s. And the effect of Megxit on his family and the monarchy must have devastated him.
One can only hope that since Philip was being treated in hospital when the Oprah interview was aired, he did not know too much about it.
The rift between Harry and Meghan and the Royal Family had cast a long shadow over Philip’s final year. And at heart Harry must understand this. Which is why I hope Harry had the chance to explain to Philip why he and Meghan had to strike out on their own.
For all his apparent brusqueness, Philip, I feel, would have been the best of counsellors. Just as he was with Diana, with whom he had a surprisingly close relationship.
After all, few could have been more of an outsider than he when he joined the Royal Family. An impoverished Greek prince with German blood, he was even nicknamed ‘The Hun’ by the Queen Mother.
And then with the death of the Queen’s father George VI, this highly energetic man – who was accustomed to leading from the front in the Navy and was mentioned in despatches for his heroism during the war – suddenly had to walk in the shadow of the Queen.
Like Harry and Meghan, he was hugely frustrated by suffocating royal protocol
Like Harry and Meghan, he was hugely frustrated by suffocating royal protocol.
Like Harry, he became something of a rebel when young, enjoying louche behaviour and boozy lunches with raffish young members of the Thursday Club.
Like Harry, he was good looking, had a twinkle in the eye and charmed the ladies.
These two princes had so much in common: both raconteurs, both with a rakish off-beam sense of humour that often landed them in trouble.
And crucially, both were distinguished military men. How proud Philip must have been for Harry after his two tours in Afghanistan and his excellence as an Apache helicopter pilot.
Such was their camaraderie that when Philip handed over his honorary command of the Marines to Harry, he told his grandson: ‘Don’t cock it up.’
And now with his adored grandfather gone, my fear is that Harry may be wondering if he did ‘cock it up’.
Not in his service to the Marines which he had to relinquish but in his duty to his Queen and country – something Philip held to be so important.
Tragically, it is too late now if Harry has any guilt or regrets that his grandfather went to his grave thinking of him as the errant prince who turned his back on the Royal Family.
A final farewell in person could have been a reconciliation – but after Megxit that was unfortunately not possible.
Tragically, it is too late now if Harry has any guilt or regrets that his grandfather went to his grave thinking of him as the errant prince who turned his back on the Royal Family
As those who have loved and lost know, nothing compares with that last goodbye, holding a hand for the final time, looking deeply into once brilliant eyes dimmed by age but still full of love.
We all know that when great loss strikes us, despite the fights and fallouts, we want to hold our family close. How Harry must have longed to be here in the UK and not in LA when his grandfather was ailing during the past year and to have traded old soldier stories with the man who he not only loved and was inspired by but whom he revered.
Let us all hope that through their shared loss, this divided family might unite again and move forward with love. That is what Philip would have wanted.
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