Prince Philip protected Prince Harry in expletive-filled rant at Downing Street aides

Prince Philip health: Royals unlikely to visit Duke says insider

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Philip’s call came during the difficult days following the untimely death of Princess Diana on August 31, 1997. The Princess of Wales was honoured with a public funeral that remains one of the most-watched events in history, as an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide viewed or listened to the service, while another three million crowded the streets of London to follow the procession. While many well-known figures attended, including Elton John, Tom Hanks and Hillary Clinton, Diana’s funeral was originally intended to be a private affair.

The Queen reportedly insisted the ceremony should be intimate, but Prince Charles and Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed that Diana should be laid out at St James’s Palace with a public funeral held at Westminster Abbey.

Her Majesty is thought to have relented after a personal intervention from Mr Blair.

However, according to 2008 book ‘Tony’s Ten Years: Memories of the Blair Administration’ by Sky News’ Editor-at-large Adam Boulton, tensions between Downing Street and the Royal Family arose for a second time over the funeral arrangements.

Mr Boulton writes: “The events of that week in September 1997 were very sad, but as the spinners from Downing Street came to Buckingham Palace and started to kick around what roles Harry and William should play in the funeral, the Queen had relished the moment when Philip had bellowed over the speakerphone from Balmoral: ‘F*** off!’

“‘We are talking about two boys who have lost their mother.'”

He continued: “Once the arrangements had been sorted out, Blair read the lesson very melodramatically that day in the Abbey.

“Blair had been helpful reading the public mood when Diana had died but he was also presumptuous.”

Paul Scott, in his 2006 biography ‘Tony & Cherie’ writes that there was “barely concealed suspicion of the Blairs from senior royals and their courtiers” during his tenure.

He adds: “Not only were they by nature predisposed to be wary of any Labour Government.

“There was also deep hostility among senior members of the Royal Family about how, as they saw it, the Queen had been railroaded into giving way in the days after Diana’s death by Blair and his ‘henchmen.'”

Philip’s furious call was witnessed by Anji Hunter, who worked for Mr Blair.

In ‘7 Days’, a Channel 5 documentary on Diana’s funeral, Ms Hunter said how surprised she was to hear his emotion.

She said: “I can remember – it sends a tingle up my back.

“We were all talking about how William and Harry should be involved and suddenly came Prince Philip’s voice.

“We hadn’t heard from him before, but he was really anguished.”

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William told the same documentary that walking behind his mother’s coffin was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done”.

The Duke of Cambridge, who was 15 at the time, recalled using his fringe as a “safety blanket” during the “very long, lonely walk”.

It comes as Philip spends his third weekend in hospital after undergoing treatment on a pre-existing heart condition.

Harry, meanwhile, is about to feature in one of the most significant royal interviews in the history of the monarchy.

Alongside his wife, Meghan Markle, he has sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a show that will be broadcast tonight on CBS in the US and tomorrow on ITV in the UK.

Oprah With Meghan and Harry is on ITV at 9pm on Monday March 8. You can watch the full interview afterwards on the ITV Hub.

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