William and Harry’s special bond with the Duke of Edinburgh

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·4-min read

The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex’s affection for their “Grandpa” the Duke of Edinburgh was always to clear to see.

On official engagements, William and Harry were often captured side by side with Philip, usually in fits of laughter at something the duke had said.

Trooping the Colour parade
The Duke of Edinburgh with Harry, the Duchess of Cambridge and William on the balcony at Buckingham Palace following Trooping the Colour in 2014 (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

Both enjoyed his witty and entertaining company and greatly admired his decades of dedication to duty and the loyal support he showed to the Queen.

In a tribute released on Monday, William described his grandfather as a “extraordinary man”.

He heralded his “mischievous sense of humour”, adding: “I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.”

William shared a poignant personal photograph taken by the Duchess of Cambridge of their eldest son Prince George, aged just two, riding in a carriage with his great grandfather in 2015.

Duke of Edinburgh death
George and his great-grandfather in 2015 (Duchess of Cambridge/PA)

“I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour!” William said.

Harry described Philip as “a man of service, honour and great humour, adding that “he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ‘til the end”.

William and Harry spent their childhood summers enjoying barbecues cooked by Philip at Balmoral, as well as shooting, hunting and fishing, which was also much loved by the duke, on the Aberdeenshire estate.

The trio all shared a love of polo and outdoor life.

The Duke of Edinburgh speaks to Prince William and Prince Harry at Sandhurst
The Duke of Edinburgh speaks to Prince William and Prince Harry at Sandhurst (PA)

As a royal patriarch, adored by his eight grandchildren, Philip was a larger than life character who even kept his royal relatives on their toes.

Harry said: “He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm—and also because you never knew what he might say next.”

In a nod to Philip’s well-known impatience, Harry added: “While I could go on, I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it!’

“So, on that note, Grandpa, thank you for your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself.”

As a military man who served with distinction in the Second World War, Philip was proud of his grandsons for their own service in the armed forces.

Princes William and Harry
Princes William and Harry greet the Queen and Philip at the wedding in 2004 (John Giles/PA)

When William and Harry’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales died suddenly in a car crash when they were just 15 and 12, the brothers were staying at Balmoral with their grandparents.

The duke and the Queen supported the boys during the difficult days ahead.

Philip is said to have offered William and Harry “gruff tenderness and outdoor activities like stalking and hiking to tire them out”.

Ahead of Diana’s funeral, he is said to have told the brothers as plans were being made for them to walk behind the princess’ funeral cortege “If I walk, will you walk with me?”

Royalty – Princess of Wales Funeral – Westminster Abbey, London
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and the Princess of Wales walking behind Diana’s coffin (Adam Butler/PA)

On the day, Philip joined the princes as they made the heartbreaking procession through central London in honour of the princess.

The duke could be stern and it is not known what he made of the Megxit debacle when Harry quit as a senior working royal for a new life in the US with the Duchess of Sussex.

Nor is it known whether Philip was aware of or what he made of the fall out from the Sussexes’ bombshell Oprah interview in which they accused the royal family of racism.

William and Harry leave the King Edward VII Hospital
William and Harry leave the King Edward VII Hospital in central London, after visiting Philip in 2012 (Clive Gee/PA)

The Duke of York told on Sunday how Philip kept calm in a crisis, adding: “If you had a problem, he would think about it.

“That’s the great thing that I always think about, that he was always somebody you could go to and he would always listen.”

In 2012, William and Harry visited Philip together in hospital while he was being treated for a bladder infection during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and they did so again as a duo after he had abdominal surgery in 2013.