When Prince Philip passed away earlier this year, many in the royal family remembered his sense of humor, his knack for carriage racing, and his love for the Queen. But a new documentary, Philip: Prince, Husband, Father, set to air on ITV in the UK this week, reveals that he was also a considerate grandfather, deeply concerned with making sure his grandchildren grew up in a supportive environment.
The new documentary shows scenes from Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, as Prince Philip walked behind the coffin alongside Prince Charles and Princes William and Harry. The solemn occasion was widely publicized, and cameras were fixed on the young princes in particular, making any displays of emotion seem high-pressure.
According to the Daily Mail, Martin Palmer—one of the speakers in the new film and a co-founders, alongside Prince Philip, of the Alliances of Religion and Conservation—asked Prince Philip about a particular moment at the funeral, where the royals move just out of sight of the cameras, Prince Philip gently touched William’s back and comforted him.
“There’s a moment where they go under the Horseguards Parade arch where it’s quite clear that Prince Philip—and I asked him about this he said, ‘Yes, I didn’t think the cameras could see us—at that point, he turns to William and comforts him,” says Palmer. “You’ve just got to watch that moment and realize here is a grandfather who is trying to help his young, very vulnerable grandson struggle through this awful, awful moment.”
In part, Prince Philip likely hoped the gesture set his approach apart from his own upbringing, which Palmer describes as “dysfunctional.” “He knew what it was like to be a member of a dysfunctional family and he tried his hardest to make sure that did not happen to his grandchildren,” he says in the film.
Also according to the publication, Prince Philip was not even initially set to be in the procession behind the coffin, but when William showed reluctance to do it, Prince Philip said he would join him as a show of support—William reportedly only agreed to walk if his grandfather was allowed to walk beside him.
The anecdote reveals a gentler side of Prince Philip that seemed to depart from the gruff, witty persona the public usually saw.
Philip: Prince, Husband, Father airs on ITV on Tuesday, though it is not clear if it will be available to stream stateside.
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