On the day of Princess Diana’s funeral in September 1997, the British royal family lived in a tight skirt. Who would accompany the coffin on the traditional walk to Westminster Abbey?
Diana’s brother Charles Spencer wanted to go alone. Royal family advisers have insisted on the presence of Charles, although the two are divorced, and the couple’s children, William and Harry.
After all, the Crown was having a bad time in front of the people, when it hesitated to empathize, at first, for the tragic death of the mother of a future monarch. A bigger commitment was needed.
The problem is that William, the eldest son and currently second in the estate, did not want to go. He, then 15, and his younger brother Harry, 12 at the time, were very upset. But if Diana’s children did not accompany the coffin, the image of the family would be eroded even more.
Prince Philip, who died on Friday (9) at the age of 99, then said to his grandson: “If I walk beside you, will you go?” The suggestion convinced the little prince and allowed the brothers to walk beside their mother’s coffin, shaking the world up and practically reshaping the image of the royal family.
The gesture is not minor and fits in with the role of Philip, a man who is conservative in customs, but who took seriously the goal of modernizing the image of the royal family in British society.
In addition to convincing William that day, Philip gave Buckingham Palace a boost, going over the duties of each employee and connecting royalty with the outside world. They say he answered the phone himself when they called the palace and bought new furniture – and even a washing machine.
Slender, tall, athletic since he was a child, he delighted young Elizabeth, who declared that she would not marry any other man if it were not for him. Philip loved luxury yachts, cars and sports.
At the palace, Philippe wanted to show that he would not be in Elizabeth’s shadow, nor that he would not be a supporting actor, even though he had promised, from the first day, to be her subject. more faithful. Her opinion made a difference in family matters, as well as in decisions about her children’s education and marriage.
It wasn’t always a success, as in the episode where he encouraged his family members to let a BBC crew film the daily life of the palace in 1969. The documentary, which sought to show the members’ contribution from family to society, ended up appearing snobbish. and had the opposite effect. After being seen by over 30 million people, it was banished by the Queen herself, and since 1977 it has never been shown again.
Known for his blunders, Philip was one of the favorite targets of Republicans, who saw the “outsider” as a disengaged figure of his time. Sexist and racist comments were rife and can now be seen in the Prince’s compilations of statements on YouTube. He didn’t care himself.
“I know all about free speech because I often get punched in the mouth for speaking,” the prince once told a group of students, laughing. During a visit to Australia, he asked a ruler of an original people if they were “still shooting arrows”.
Controversial in his demeanor and true to his duties and devoted to the royal family, Philip says goodbye to a world he has seen transform in nearly a century.