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When the Duke of Cambridge was introduced to Matt Smith, the actor who would play his grandfather in The Crown, at a charity event a few years ago, he was asked if he had any advice.
“Just one word,” came the reply. “Legend.”
The Duke of Edinburgh was a huge presence in Prince William’s life, playing a critical role as mentor, role model and sounding board.
Both of similar temperaments, pragmatic, plain speaking and quick witted, the Duke saw a lot of himself in his grandson.
He is thought to have felt assured that the institution of the monarchy, to which he had dedicated almost his entire adult life, was in safe hands.
From their adoration of Africa to their environmental interests, their love of sailing, horses and polo, the two men shared many common interests.
Both were pilots and passionate about shooting and land management.
Their relationship was strengthened following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, when the Duke immediately took on the role of staunch defender.
At the time of the fatal Paris car crash in 1997, both Prince William and Prince Harry, then 15 and 12, were at Balmoral, staying with the Queen and the Duke.
It was decided to keep them ensconced in Scotland in order to protect them from scrutiny and the public gaze.
Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles, wrote: “A member of the Balmoral staff noted that Prince Philip, who had effectively lost his own mother at the age of 10 when she was committed for three years to an asylum in Switzerland, was brilliantly effective with his grandsons, offering them gruff tenderness and outdoor activities like stalking and hiking to tire them out.”
Anji Hunter, Tony Blair’s head of government relations, recalled hearing the Duke’s “anguished” voice when the team organising the Princess’s funeral held a conference call.
“We were all talking about how William and Harry should be involved and suddenly, came Prince Philip’s voice,” she told a newspaper.
“We hadn’t heard from him before, but he was really anguished. ‘It’s about the boys,’ he cried, ‘They’ve lost their mother.’”
In the event, it was the Duke who was credited with persuading a reluctant Prince William to walk behind his mother’s coffin, believing he would regret his decision if he chose not to do so.
“If I walk, will you walk with me?” he asked.
Throughout his years at Eton, the Duke was a regular visitor to his grandparents at Windsor Castle.
“He used to pop across the bridge to have tea with them, which was lovely,” said Penny Junor, the royal author.
“And I think that was a good period when they really got to know one another.”
That bond continued throughout the Prince’s time at St Andrew’s University.
His grandfather was delighted that he had fallen in love with Kate Middleton and was overjoyed at their marriage.
He liked the fact that the Middletons were self-made, impressed with their discretion and loyalty. Above all, he was relieved that his grandson had succeeded where his elder son had not, in finding someone he loved.
Prince William’s decision to pursue a career in the military was also a great source of pride for the Duke, who had loved his time in the Navy and whose entire life was closely connected to the Armed Forces.
The seeds of his passion for the environment, may well have been sown by the Duke.
While it is a subject close to the hearts of the Duke, Prince Charles and Prince William, it is surely significant that the latter’s career-defining project was rooted in a cause championed by Prince Philip.
When he announced the Earthshot Prize – “the most prestigious environmental prize in history” – last January, aides revealed he had spoken to both his father and his grandfather about the project as he wanted to build on their own work on conservation and climate change.
There is no doubt that the Duke greatly admired Prince Philip and all that he achieved.
His decision to name his younger son Prince Louis was thought by many to have been made in tribute to the Duke, whose closeness to his uncle, Louis Mountbatten, killed by the IRA in 1979, is well documented.
During an official visit to Israel in 2018, he gave a further nod to his grandfather by visiting the grave of his mother, Princess Alice, on the Mount of Olives, after which he said: “Her story is a matter of great pride for the whole family.” Princess Alice was the daughter of Prince Louis of Battenberg.
Archimandrite Roman, the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, later revealed that he had told Prince William he once read someone had asked Prince Philip if he had ever been to Russia, and that he had replied “they murdered half my bloody family, so maybe I’ll go, maybe not”.
Prince William laughed: “He would say that.”
“Both of them are men who keep their emotions to themselves, in public, certainly and who have no sense of ego but a great sense of service”, said Ms Junor.
“The lack of ego is important, because ego leads to a sort of feeling that you're a celebrity, and that way, lies real danger for members of the Royal family.
“William is not a risk taker, he wasn't impulsive in the way that Harry is.
“William is very, very much more considered, he likes to be in control of his life, he likes to call the shots.”
Similarly, the Duke put very few feet wrong over the course of his life.
While he may have been famed for his gaffes and outspokenness, he too was a cautious figure, aware of the pitfalls that came with his position.
Both too, valued their privacy hugely.
At the Sandringham Summit last January, when senior royals met to thrash out the terms of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s exit deal, the Duke stepped back.
Whilst devastated by the unfolding turn of events, he felt able to step back, safe in the knowledge that Prince Charles and Prince William were there, protecting the institution in tandem.
Prince William’s relationship with his father, by comparison, is more complex.
Ms Junor went on: “I suspect Philip had a particularly soft spot for William and Harry, because of the trauma that they've been through, because they lost their mother.
“And their father, he's a wonderful father, but always very busy.”
Few disagree that the Duke’s death will be keenly felt by his grandson, an irreplaceable presence in his life.
“He was a very significant figure in William's life,” said Ms Junor. “He was a role model and I think he was a huge fount of wisdom and advice, for he was someone that William trusted and could speak to frankly.
“He was someone William respected and loved enormously. And I think there was huge affection there.”