'Our thoughts immediately went to my grandmother. We've been trying to support her as much as we can.'
The much-loved royal passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle, with a private funeral held at St George’s Chapel later in the month. Attended only by his closest family owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Queen sat quietly alone during the televised service, highlighting the devastating impact the pandemic has had on grieving families.
Opening up about the difficulty of not being able to hug his grandmother following the loss of her late husband, The Queen’s eldest grandchild Peter Phillips told the BBC, “Our thoughts immediately went to my grandmother.
“We’ve been trying to support her as much as we can. Everybody saw the image of Her Majesty sitting alone. It would have been the same for any other family, the hardest part is not being able to hug those closest to the person who’s been lost.”
Speaking ahead of Gatcombe Park Food and Drink Festival in Gloucestershire, Phillips, who is the eldest son of Princess Anne, paid touching tribute to his grandfather, calling him a “hugely influential figure in our lives”. He added: “He lived a remarkable life and if any of us can even live half the life that he did, we would all be extraordinarily happy.”
The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral marked the first time that Prince Harry returned to the UK following his tell-all Oprah Winfrey interview earlier this year. It was also the first time that Prince Harry and Prince William had been reunited following their alleged fall-out, with William and Kate reportedly refusing to speak to Harry following the service out of fear that the conversation would be leaked.
And while the brothers were watched closely by the press during the sad day, it was the Queen’s quiet dignity that drew global admiration.
Phillips told the national broadcaster that lockdown easing had allowed his grandmother to spend more time with his family, and see her great-granddaughters Savannah and Isla.
“They’re exceptionally lucky to have had two great-grandparents who have lived as long as they have. My children certainly appreciate that and know that it’s something special,” he said.