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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My indispensable grandpa, by Prince Harry: The young royal pays tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh

By Rebecca English

Prince Harry has said he does not believe the Queen can now carry out her public duties without the Duke of Edinburgh by her side.

In an interview to mark her Diamond Jubilee, the prince pays tribute to his 85-year-old grandmother’s stoicism and sense of duty.

But he makes it clear that none of her achievements would have been possible without the unswerving support of her 90-year-old husband.

‘Regardless of whether my grandfather seems to be doing his own thing, sort of wandering off like a fish down the river, the fact that he’s there – personally, I don’t think that she could do it without him, especially when they’re both at this age,’ he says.

Harry’s astute comments on the strength of the couple’s remarkable 64-year marriage are all the more poignant as they were made before 90-year-old Prince Philip’s heart scare over Christmas.

After developing severe chest pains, he was admitted to hospital where a stent was fitted to clear a blocked coronary artery.

He spent four nights under observation and has since been recuperating at Sandringham, his wife’s Norfolk estate, as well as carrying out a limited number of public engagements.

Harry’s remark was made in an interview with broadcaster Andrew Marr for the documentary Diamond Queen, to be shown on BBC1 on Monday, which is the 60th anniversary of the death of George VI and his daughter’s accession to the throne.

Writing about the interview in the latest edition of the Radio Times magazine, Marr also reveals the 27-year-old prince makes clear the sovereign has no intention of slowing down.

He writes: ‘Prince Harry reflects on her ability to turn up, still smiling, at places she might not want to be: ‘These are the things that, at her age, she shouldn’t be doing, yet she’s carrying on and doing them’.”

Family: The Duke of Edinburgh talks to Prince Harry, right, and his brother, the now Duke of Cambridge. The Prince has paid tribute to his 90-year-old grandfather

Unswerving support: In an interview to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Prince Harry paid tribute to the strength of his grandparents' remarkable 64-year marriage

Several other senior royals also offer opinions on the Queen and her reign, including future heir Prince William who revealed that despite being one of the most famous women in the world, the Queen doesn’t ‘care for celebrity’.

‘I think she doesn’t care for celebrity....and she really minds about having privacy in general. And I think it’s very important to be able to retreat inside and be able to collect one’s thoughts and collect your ideas...and then to move forwards.

‘[it is] a very tricky line to draw between private and public and duty and I think she’s carved her own way completely. She’s not had a blueprint.’

Other contributions are more light-hearted including that of Princess Anne who jokes about the fact that she and her mother are still talking after all these years.

Several of the monarch’s former Prime Ministers are also interviewed, including Tony Blair who scotches long-held rumours that his office wrote her famous televised address following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, which began with the immortal line ‘As your Queen and as a grandmother’.

‘Those words and that language were her own.....absolutely not written by New Labour no - and the very personal touch was actually hers,’ he says.

He added: ‘She keeps her ear very much to the ground. ...though conventionally it’s supposed to be prime minutes briefing the Queen, I found it a very genuine exchange....she had a very clear and shrewd sense of where people would be on political issues.

‘There was nobody who has a better idea of a crisis, what it’s like, how it is, and how it also doesn’t go on forever.

‘She was prepared within the context of the audience to be very frank and open and informative.’

David Cameron, the Queen’s 12th Prime Minster, told Mr Marr: ‘She’s seen and heard it all, but I think she wants to be in a position where she knows everything that’s going on… she asks you well-informed and brilliant questions that make you think about the things you’re doing.” So did that make him do his job better?

‘I think you reveal both to her, but also to yourself, your deepest thinking and deepest worries… and sometimes that can really help you reach the answers.’

■ Andrew Marr’s full article is in today’s Radio Times.



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