Harry reveals grandfather Philip was a great listener
The Duke of Sussex has spoken for the first time about how the Duke of Edinburgh gave him the space to talk about serving in Afghanistan.
Harry was twice deployed to Helmand province during the UK’s military operations, and in a BBC tribute programme to Philip he describes how his grandfather would “never probe” but listen.
In lighter moments Philip’s passion for barbecues is recounted by his children and grandchildren, and his love of cookery shows is revealed, with the Hairy Bikers among his favourites.
During Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, Harry says: “Going off to Afghanistan he was very matter of fact and just said, ‘Make sure you come back alive’… then when I came back, there wasn’t a deep level of discussion, more a case of, ‘Well you made it. How was it?’ That’s how he was.
“He was very much a listener, he sort of set the scene for you to be able to share as much as you wanted to share but he would never probe.”
Harry first served on the front line in Afghanistan as a forward air controller, during 2007-08, co-ordinating air strikes on Taliban positions before his presence was revealed by foreign media and he was flown home.
But he got his wish to return to the front line, serving as an Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner during 2012-13.
Philip’s children and grandchildren speak with affection about the man who was a central figure in their lives in the tribute programme filmed before and after his death in April, aged 99.
His love of barbecuing is well known and the duke even tasked a Sandringham engineer with building him a trailer to hold his barbecuing kit.
The Prince of Wales said about his father: “He adored barbecuing and he turned that into an interesting art form. And if I ever tried to do it he… I could never get the fire to light or something ghastly so (he’d say): ‘Go away!’”
Philip’s cooking skills were praised by his grandson the Duke of Cambridge, who said: “Every barbecue that I’ve ever been on, the Duke of Edinburgh has been there cooking… he’s definitely a dab hand at the barbecue.
“I can safely say there’s never been a case of food poisoning in the family that’s attributed to the Duke of Edinburgh.”
The Countess of Wessex added: “Cooking is something that I love talking to him about. And he loves watching cookery programmes. Hairy Bikers, I think is one of his favourites.”
More than a dozen royals including all of the Queen and Philip’s children – the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex – and their adult grandchildren, the dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, took part in the one-hour programme.
The Queen was not interviewed for the programme but granted special access to her private film collection.
The documentary-makers went inside Buckingham Palace to meet the duke’s long-serving staff and to capture his study, private office and library as they were during his seven decades of public service.
The programme, which will air on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC One, was originally conceived to mark the duke’s 100th birthday in June, but the nation’s longest-serving consort died two months before his centenary.
The Duchess of Sussex, who has accused the royal family of racism, the Duchess of Cambridge and other spouses of the Queen and Philip’s grandchildren do not appear.
Philip’s dedication to the nation’s military was highlighted by Charles: “Well he took very seriously the fact that he was involved in the three armed forces… and obviously the Navy was his main service but he took an inordinate interest in everything to do with the other two.
“He read up an awful lot and thought about it and so he certainly put a lot of the generals and others through their paces, if you know what I mean. He’d always thought of a better way of doing it.”
William described how the duke, who served as a naval officer during the Second World War, was concerned about the care the armed forces received.
He said: “He’s always set a very good example about how we have to look after the welfare of the military and represent them and be there for them, and understands, you know, the trials and tribulations that they all go through.”