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Prince Philip didn’t hesitate to act when concerns regarding Prince William arose following Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s separation. The Duke of Edinburgh pushed the Queen to break her tradition of staying out of family issues and get closer to her grandson and successor, royal author Robert Lacey wrote.
Mr Lacey wrote in his upcoming book, Battle of Brothers: “It was then three years after his parents’ separation – just two years before Diana’s death – and the Queen was worried about her grandson’s state of mind.”
The Queen, the author added, confessed to one of her advisers she feared young William could be struggling mentally after the divorce of his parents and their private relationships had become a public affair.
This pushed Prince Philip to make a move, the author claimed, and take advantage of the fact the teenager was at the time attending Eton, just a short walk away from Windsor Castle.
He wrote: “The Duke of Edinburgh intervened.
“Philip shared his wife’s concerns and he suggested that she overcome her longstanding aversion to involvement in messy family matters by trying to get closer to this particular boy – who was not just her grandson, but a future inheritor of her crown.
“Perhaps the lad could come up and join them both in the castle from time to time on a Sunday, when the Eton boys were allowed out into the town?
“And so the lunches had begun.”
Prince Philip’s move started a tradition which saw Prince William walking along Eton High Street and head to the castle every few Sundays.
Describing the lunches, which contributed to strengthening the bond between the young heir and the monarch, Mr Lacey said: “Pudding ended, Philip would make a discreet exit, leaving his wife and grandson together in the panelled Oak Room with its six-arm chandelier hanging over the table in front of Queen Victoria’s beautiful Gobelins tapestry of The Hunt.
“In this splendid and historic but also intimate setting, grandmother and grandson – monarch and future heir – would get down to brass tacks, talking and ‘sharing’ as only the pair of them could.”
The Duke of Cambridge himself acknowledged how the Queen has been helpful during personal crises and issues.
Speaking to the BBC in 2005, just before he graduated from St Andrews University, William paid tribute to the monarch for her personal support.
He said: “She’s just very helpful on any sort of difficulties or problems I might be having.
“She’s been brilliant, she’s a real role model.”
During these meetings, Prince William wasn’t just comforted as a grandson but also introduced to the Queen’s strong sense of duty and how it was his birthright and duty to protect the Crown, the author said.
He continued: “It was during these conversations in the Oak Room that Prince William learned from his grandmother how the institution of the crown was something to be upheld and respected, and how one might have to fight – he might have to become white tough, in fact – in order to preserve it.
“It was William’s birthright and legacy, after all, as much as his gran’s.”
Speaking about the impact these conversations may have had on the Duke, the author added: “As William absorbed his grandmother’s principles, there was a sense, he later described, in which he became as one with her, establishing a warm personal closeness – a strong and quite extraordinary partnership across the generations that he defined as a ‘shared understanding of what’s needed’.”
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