How the Hairy Bikers helped Prince Philip become 'master of the barbecue'

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 HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Princess Anne preparing a barbecue on the Estate at Balmoral Castle, Scotland during the Royal Family's annual summer holiday, 22nd August 1972. - Lichfield/Getty Images
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Princess Anne preparing a barbecue on the Estate at Balmoral Castle, Scotland during the Royal Family's annual summer holiday, 22nd August 1972. - Lichfield/Getty Images

Not for nothing was Prince Philip known as “master of the barbecue”. And the secret to the Duke of Edinburgh's success? According to his family: a love of cookery programmes, especially the Hairy Bikers.

The late Duke, loved-ones have said, was a “dab hand” at the barbecue, with his grandson the Duke of Cambridge joking he had never caused food poisoning in the Royal family.

The Duke, who died in April aged 99, has been remembered fondly by his children and grandchildren in a BBC tribute, and they highlighted his cooking as one of his skills.

The programme was originally intended to celebrate his 100th birthday and, in comments filmed before his death, the Countess of Wessex, his daughter-in-law, said: “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.”

The Hairy Bikers, also known as Si King and Dave Myers, have made more than 20 television series, and are famous for their jovial, no-nonsense adventures around Britain and the world.

The Duke was said to love watching cookery programmes, especially The Hairy Bikers - BBC
The Duke was said to love watching cookery programmes, especially The Hairy Bikers - BBC

Of Prince Philip’s talents, which saw him preside over the grill at Balmoral each summer, Prince William said: “Every barbecue that I’ve ever been on, the Duke of Edinburgh has been there cooking.

“We go on barbecues and there’s no chef, there’s not anyone else. 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.”

Prince Charles added: “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!’”

The disclosure provides a light-hearted moment in the documentary, which also focuses on the Duke’s lifelong dedication to the military.

'Make sure you come back alive,' he told Harry

Prince Harry on patrol through the deserted town of Garmisir, where he was posted in Helmand province - PA
Prince Harry on patrol through the deserted town of Garmisir, where he was posted in Helmand province - PA

The Duke of Sussex, who had taken over from his grandfather as Captain General Royal Marines before he left a life of royal duty for California, said Prince Philip had provided an outlet for talking about his own experience in Afghanistan in 2007.

“Going off to Afghanistan he was very matter of fact and just said: ‘Make sure you come back alive',” said Prince Harry.

“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.”

Prince William 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 understand the trials and tribulations that they all go through.”

Prince Charles added: “He took very seriously the fact that he was involved in the three Armed Forces.

“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.”

The BBC programme will feature more than a dozen members of the Royal family, including the Duke of York.

The Duchess of Cornwall will also appear, with contributions from the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their daughter Lady Louise Mountbatten, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Lawrence, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, and Prince Philip’s great-nephew Bernhard, Prince of Baden.

With special access to the Queen’s private cine-film collection and scenes showing the Duke’s office, study and library, programme-makers also interviewed his archivist Alexandra McCreery and head coachman Matthew Powers.

Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers will be broadcast on Wednesday, September 22, at 9pm on BBC One.

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