William hails duke’s kindness to Kate and presence during ‘hardest days’

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·4-min read

The Duke of Cambridge told how the Duke of Edinburgh’s presence helped him through “the hardest days” over the years, as he expressed his gratitude for Philip’s “kindness” towards the Duchess of Cambridge.

The future king said he is thankful that Kate, who married into the royal family in 2011 after meeting William nearly a decade earlier, had “so many years” to get to know his grandfather.

He said he had used the duke’s example of a life of service as a guide and was lucky to have had him there during “good times” and difficult ones.

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The royal family has faced a series of major crises in recent weeks and years, even before Philip’s death, with William falling out with his brother, the Duke of Sussex, and Harry quitting royal duties to live in the US, followed by the Sussexes’ bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Just a month ago, Harry and the Duchess of Sussex laid their feelings bare in an interview with the US TV host.

They accused an unnamed royal – not the Queen or Philip – of making racist remarks before their son Archie was born he was born about how dark his skin might be, and said the institution failed to help a suicidal Meghan even when she begged for help.

The duchess said Kate made her cry in the run-up to her wedding in a disagreement over flower girl dresses, and accused the Palace of failing to correct reports that it was the other way round.

The former Suits star said she was not given advice on how to be royal and had to Google the national anthem and learn hymns by herself.

The royal family was left reeling from the allegations, with the Queen herself saying the matter would be dealt with privately and that some recollections varied.

William said of Philip in his tribute: “My grandfather’s century of life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family.

“I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life – both through good times and the hardest days.

“I will always be grateful that my wife had so many years to get to know my grandfather and for the kindness he showed her.”

Coronavirus – Sun Jul 5, 2020
William said he and Kate have pledged to follow the Duke of Edinburgh’s wishes and support the Queen (Joe Giddens/PA)

When William was 15 and Harry 12, they suffered the devastating loss of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in Paris aged just 36.

The brothers were staying with the Queen and Philip at Balmoral at the time, and the couple sought to protect and comfort their grandsons.

William said he and Kate have pledged to follow the duke’s wishes and support the Queen.

“My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation. Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support the Queen in the years ahead,” he said.

“I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.”

Harry mentioned his own wife in his statement, as well as son Archie and his second child – a daughter – who is due to be born this summer, but will now never get to meet Philip.

“Meghan, Archie and I (as well as your future great-granddaughter) will always hold a special place for you in our hearts,” he said.

Duke of Edinburgh death
The Duke of Edinburgh with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in 2017 (Joe Giddens/PA)

William’s written message was issued first on Monday, followed separately, half an hour later, by Harry’s.

It served as a symbolic reminder of their positions with the royal family and their separate lives, with William – a future monarch – taking precedence over his younger brother – who is sixth in line and, of his own choice, no longer a senior working royal.

The brothers, who used to be incredibly close, once shared a household – Kensington Palace.

Their rift is said to have begun ahead of the Sussexes’ wedding in 2018, with Harry angered at what he perceived to be his brother’s “snobbish” attitude towards his bride.

The messages were matched in their affection for the duke, but different in tone, with William’s, although touching and sentimental, more formal.

Harry’s – with the duke now freer from the constraints of the monarchy – was more light-hearted, with relaxed language in its talk of “beer” and “banter”.

He summed up Philip as “master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right till the end”.

He added: “I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it’.”