LONDON – When Prince Philip died nearly six months ago at 99, the tributes poured in from far and wide, praising him for his supportive role at the side of Queen Elizabeth II over her near 70-year reign.
Now, it has emerged that Philip had another crucial role within the royal family. He was the family's barbecue king — perhaps testament to his Greek heritage.
“He adored barbecuing and he turned that into an interesting art form,” his oldest son Prince Charles said in a BBC tribute program that will be broadcast on Wednesday. "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!’”
In excerpts of 'Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers' released late Saturday, members of the royal family spoke admiringly of the late Duke of Edinburgh's barbecuing skills and his love of cookery shows, with the “Hairy Bikers” Si King and Dave Myers among his favourites.
“Every barbecue that I’ve ever been on, the Duke of Edinburgh has been there cooking," said Prince William, Philip's oldest grandson. “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.”
More than a dozen royals including all four of the queen and Philip’s children — Charles, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Prince Edward — and their adult grandchildren, including Charles' two sons, William and Prince Harry, took part in the one-hour program. The program, which was filmed before and after Philip's death on April 9, was originally conceived to mark his 100th birthday in June,
The 95-year-old queen was not interviewed but granted special access to her private film collection. Nor were the spouses of Philip's grandchildren, including Harry's wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.
Harry, who stepped down from royal duties last year and moved to California, spoke for the first time about how the Duke of Edinburgh gave him the space to talk about serving in Afghanistan. Harry says his grandfather would “never probe” but listen about his two tour of duties to Helmand province during the war in Afghanistan.
“Going off to Afghanistan, he was very matter of fact and just said, ‘Make sure you come back alive’," Harry said. “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," he added.
Harry first served in Afghanistan as a forward air controller, during 2007-08, coordinating air strikes on Taliban positions before his presence was revealed by foreign media and he was flown home. He returned in 2012, this time as an Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner.
Charles also spoke about Philip's dedication to the military.
“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," Charles said.
“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,” he added.
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