Prince Philip was disappointed that Prince Harry quit his royal duties in favor of decamping to the United States with his wife Meghan Markle, but he understood his grandson’s frustration with Britain’s tabloid media and believed in people’s need “to lead their lives as they think best,” according to Philip’s official biographer.
But Philip couldn’t abide by Harry and Meghan’s decision to sit down with Oprah Winfrey for a two-hour tell-all interview and talk about their “own problems,” the biographer, Gyles Brandreth, shared in a lengthy piece in the Daily Mail.
The Duke of Edinburgh conveyed to someone close to him that he thought the March 7 interview was “madness” and that “no good would come of it,” said Brandreth, who remained a close confidant of Philip, 99, who died last Friday.
Philip’s reported disapproval of Harry and Meghan’s Winfrey interview comes as Harry arrived back in the U.K. Saturday to attend his grandfather’s funeral at Windsor Castle, the Daily Beast and other outlets said. Meghan stayed behind at their home in California, as advised by her doctor. She is in the last months of her pregnancy with the couple’s second child. The Duke of Sussex is reportedly staying at his former cottage at Kensington Palace as he self-isolates for five days due to COVID-19 protocols.
Contrary to much speculation, Philip was not perturbed by the fact that Harry and Meghan’s Winfrey interview aired while he was in the hospital last month, according to Brandeth.
“What did worry him was the couple’s preoccupation with their own problems and their willingness to talk about them in public,” Brandeth said.
Philip, proud of his duty to his country and to his wife, Queen Elizabeth, was fine with members of the royal family giving TV interviews. But Brandeth said he always insisted: “Don’t talk about yourself.”
Philip had also said it was “madness” for Prince Charles and Princess Diana to give personal, tell-all interviews in the 1990s, Brandeth said.
It was “one of his rules,” Brandeth said, explaining that Philip thought it was self-indulgent for rich and privileged royal family members to expect that the public cared about their troubles.
“I know he shared (this rule) with his children,” Brandeth said. “I imagine he shared it with his grandchildren, too.”
Brandreth said Philip told him more than once: “It’s a big mistake to think about yourself. No one is interested in you in the long run. Don’t court popularity. It doesn’t last. Remember that the attention comes because of the position you are privileged to hold, not because of who you are. If you think it’s all about you, you’ll never be happy.”
Philip had been proud that Harry, who served in the army for 10 years, including in Afghanistan, had succeeded him as Captain General of the Royal Marines in 2017.
But Philip accepted the decision by the queen, Charles and William that Harry and Meghan couldn’t continue working as senior royals if they also wanted to pursue philanthropic endeavors and lucrative media deals on the side.
Many eyes will be on Harry’s interactions with the royal family during Philip’s service, which will be televised from St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Harry and Meghan married at the chapel in an extravagant, globally televised wedding in May 2018.
Harry and Meghan’s decision to air their grievances against the royal family in a blockbuster CBS TV special stunned the world, outraged a large segment of the U.K. public and reportedly left the royal family “reeling.” In talking to Winfrey, the couple accused at least one family member of being racist, said the institution was indifferent to Meghan’s isolation and mental health struggles, alleged that Charles cut them off financially and stopped taking Harry’s phone calls, and said Kate Middleton made Meghan cry in the days before her wedding.
Observers wonder if Harry and the royal family will be able to heal their relationship and if Harry will ever be close again to his older brother William, whom Harry said was “trapped” in his royal role as second-in-line to the throne.
Harry and William are expected to walk together behind Philip’s casket, the first time they will be seen together since Harry and Meghan officially stepped back from their royal duties more than a year ago. Observers say it will be a somber reminder of how they walked with Philip for the funeral procession of Diana after she died in 1997.