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  1. New Statesman A-Z of 2021
24 December 2021

P is for Prince Philip: The loss of the Queen’s “strength and stay” in a turbulent year for the royals

Prince Harry said that his grandfather had been “authentically himself”.

By Eleanor Peake

On 9 April, Prince Philip died at Windsor Castle aged 99. He was months away from his 100th birthday, making him the longest-serving consort of a British monarch in history.

Sympathy poured in for the Queen, his wife of 73 years, who once described the Duke of Edinburgh as her “strength and stay”. In the days after his death, commentators remembered the prince’s complicated legacy. In particular, they celebrated the long-lasting success of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for young people, which he established in 1956. The scheme has since become the primary youth achievement award scheme in the world.

Shortly after the news broke, it was announced that the UK had officially entered into a period of national mourning, which would last until his funeral on 17 April.

The late duke’s face decorated telephone boxes and billboards as memorial tributes went up across London. His funeral was a limited affair: the Queen sat alone and only immediate family members were allowed to attend the service as the lockdown staggered on.

Inevitable tabloid scrutiny of Prince Philip’s grandsons Harry and William followed. His funeral was to be the first time Harry had publicly joined his family since officially leaving the monarchy the previous year. Just weeks before the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, Harry and Meghan Markle’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey had just been aired. The 85-minute programme exposed deeply entrenched problems within the royal family.

In a statement following the news of Prince Philip’s death, Harry said his grandfather had been “authentically himself” and was a man who “could hold the attention of any room due to his charm”.

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He added that he would be remembered “as the longest-reigning consort to the monarch, a decorated serviceman, a prince and a duke. But to me, like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end.”

Find the other entries in the New Statesman A-Z of 2021 here.

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