William denied Queen Mother’s request for fear she’d ‘outshine’ him

Prince William visits the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw

Prince William began university in 2001 at the age of 19, moving out of his former London home Clarence House to study at St Andrew’s University in Scotland. As the teenager made his way to the university for the first time, departing from the Royal Family’s Scottish home, Balmoral Castle, his venerable great-grandmother had a hilarious parting shot. In a throwback interview, William revealed the then 101-year-old Queen Mother told him: “Any good parties, invite me down.”

The Prince of Wales went on to say there “was no way” he would honour his great-grandmother’s request.

He explained: “I said yes, but there was no way. I knew full well that if I invited her down she would dance me under the table.”

More recently, historian Gareth Russell recounted the humorous anecdote, telling the To Di For Daily podcast’s host Kinsey Schofield about William’s “fears” his great-grandmother would “show him up”.

Mr Russell, whose 2022 book Do Let’s Have Another Drink delved into the fascinating life of the Queen Mother, said the Prince was worried the 101-year-old royal would be “more fun” than him, adding: “He thought: ‘Not a chance! She will definitely outshine me.’”

William had spent his final moments on the Balmoral estate with his great-grandmother who, as the Prince explained, made him late on his first day at the prestigious university.

He said: “She gave me an amazing lunch, better and longer than normal, and we talked about me going to university and what I was studying. She always took a great interest in all her great-grandchildren.”

It has previously been said the Queen Mother took a special interest in William, their bond often being compared to that contrasting relationship between her and Prince Harry.

Royal commentators have claimed the younger prince was treated drastically different from his older brother, with the focus being drawn to their respective roles as heir and spare.

Royal biographer Angela Levin, has claimed the Duke of Sussex was “always less than his brother”.

She told the Channel 5 documentary Prince Harry: The Troubled Prince: “The late Queen Mother would always invite Prince William over for tea and talk to him about his future and not invite Prince Harry.”

Richard Kay, royal commentator and old friend of Diana, Princess of Wales, added: “The Queen Mother always made sure Prince William was seated in a prominent seat next to her and Harry never was.”

Mr Russell pointed out a possible reason for the Queen Mother’s special treatment of William. Recalling his research for his book, he said: “One of the things I found out was that while she respected her father-in-law, King George V, she felt that by him not being a very approachable figure to his children, he had left his sons totally unprepared — in terms of confidence — to be king.”

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He continued: “So really, she was determined that was not going to happen again. So I think, with her grandson, King Charles III and her great-grandson, Prince William, she did try to counteract that by providing a lot of confidence-building, nurturing and advice.”

At one point, Princess Diana “confronted” the Queen Mother over her clear preference for William.

“I think the Queen Mother took it on board,” said Mr Russell. “She certainly made provisions for them [Harry and William]. And she had a very good relationship with both of the princes when they were teenagers. So I think it probably was unintentional on the Queen Mother’s part, but I think it was a fair thing for Diana to notice.”

Following her death, on March 30, 2002, both William and Harry spoke about their relationships with their great-grandmother, recalling her love for the stories about their antics at Eton College, particularly those that involved getting into trouble.

The brothers recalled a Christmas Day when they showed a delighted Queen Mother how to do Ali G’s famous finger-snap and “respect” catchphrase.

Harry said: “It was at the end of the meal, and she stood up and said, ‘Darling, lunch was marvellous — respect’, and clicked her fingers.”

William recalled the entire family burst out laughing, including the famously stoic Queen Elizabeth II.

The prince said: “She loved a good laugh, even if the joke was about her. Anything that was meant to be formal and went wrong she enjoyed. She would have a good giggle. She had such a young sense of humour. Every single thing that went wrong or was funny for any reason she laughed herself stupid about — it kept us all sane.”

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