While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are no longer working members of the royal family, Prince Harry maintained a relationship with his grandparents, especially his grandmother, since he and his wife Meghan Markle relocated to the US.
The relationship between Prince Harry and his grandfather was one that grew over time, but that is said to have gotten close following the death of Prince William and Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, in 1997, at which point the two boys and their father, Prince Charles, moved in with the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
According to Tina Brown, the author of The Diana Chronicles, during this time, Prince Philip entertained and distracted William and Harry, who were 15 and 12, respectively, with a variety of outdoor activities.
“A member of the Balmoral staff noted that Prince Philip, who had effectively lost his own mother at the age of ten when she was committed for three years to an asylum in Switzerland, was brilliantly effective with his grandsons, offering them gruff tenderness and outdoor activities like stalking and hiking to tire them out,” Brown wrote.
The Duke of Edinburgh also prioritised the well-being of his grandsons during the planning of their mother’s funeral, with former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s former government relations director, Anji Hunter, recalling to the Evening Standard how Prince Philip had stepped in to remind those on a funeral planning call that it was “about the boys”.
“We were all talking about how William and Harry should be involved and suddenly came Prince Philip’s voice,” she said. “We hadn’t heard from him before, but he was really anguished. ‘It’s about the boys,’ he cried, ‘They’ve lost their mother.’”
Later, on the day of Princess Diana’s funeral, Prince Philip reportedly offered his grandsons encouragement over having to walk in the funeral procession, telling them: “I’ll walk if you walk.”
Over the years, Prince Harry and Prince Philip, who both served in the armed forces, also participated in a number of Remembrance Day appearances together each year, while they were frequently seen laughing together during less somber occasions.
Prince Harry’s relationship with his grandfather remained close as the duke married Meghan, with Prince Philip reportedly planning his hip surgery ahead of the couple’s nuptials so that he would be able to attend their royal wedding in person.
However, reports of a rift between the two members of the royal family grew following the duke and duchess’s decision to step back from their roles as senior members of the royal family, a choice that Harry’s grandfather, who had dedicated his life to one of service and duty, allegedly could not understand.
“For Philip, whose entire existence has been based on a devotion to doing his duty, it appeared that his grandson had abdicated his for the sake of his marriage to an American divorcee in much the same way as Edward VIII gave up his crown to marry Wallis Simpson in 1936,” Ingrid Seward, author of Prince Philip Revealed, wrote in her biography, according to Vanity Fair.
Prince Philip was reportedly also upset with the way his grandson had chosen to inform the Queen of his and Meghan’s decision, with Seward writing that the monarch was only informed 10 minutes before the couple publicly announced their intention.
“It was up to Harry and Meghan to listen but they didn’t and Philip has always been very protective of the Queen so if anyone upsets her, they upset him too,” Seward told Vanity Fair of the Duke of Edinburgh’s alleged feelings about the matter. “Philip welcomed Meghan at the beginning, he knows what it’s like to be an outsider, and so he’s always very supportive of people marrying into the family.
“He quite liked Meghan at first, but their actions have left a bad taste and as a consequence the relationship with Harry has suffered.”
Tensions around their seemingly already strained relationship increased when it was announced that Prince Harry and Meghan would be speaking with Oprah Winfrey for an interview, which aired in March while Prince Philip was being treated for an infection in the hospital.
Although the couple decided to go ahead with the TV special as scheduled, despite the uncertainty over the health of Harry’s grandfather, it was reported by Gayle King following the interview that the duke and duchess would have postponed had the Duke of Edinburgh died.
In the interview itself, the couple spoke of alleged racism and lack of mental health support during their time as senior members of the royal family, with both Harry and Meghan telling Winfrey that questions were raised by other royals about the colour of their then-unborn child’s skin.
The duke and duchess refused to name the member of the family behind the alleged racially charged question, however, Winfrey revealed the day after the interview aired that neither the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh had been the ones to make the comment - and that Prince Harry had wanted to make this clear to both Winfrey and the public.
“[Prince Harry] did not share the identity with me, but he wanted to make sure that I knew, and if I had an opportunity to share it, that it was not his grandmother, nor his grandfather, that were a part of those conversations,” Winfrey said during an appearance on CBS This Morning.
While Prince Harry is reportedly preparing to fly back to the UK, it is not currently clear whether Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, will join him.
It is also understood by The Independent that the couple, who have not yet released a statement following the death of Prince Philip on 9 April, will not be doing so today, but will rather be grieving quietly with the rest of the royal family.
The royal family announced Prince Philip’s death in a statement which read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
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