“When Diana married into the family, Prince Philip really looked after her because he looks after all the girls — including Meghan when she first came into the family — because he knows what it’s like to be the new boy on the block or the new girl on the block and suddenly come into this family with all their strange protocols and everything else,” royal biographer Ingrid Seward exclusively told Us Weekly in October 2020. “Philip, being a very intelligent man, he knew how to handle all these newcomers, but in return, he expected loyalty, and he expected that they, too, would have a sense of duty like he had.”
Diana joined the royal family in July 1981 when she tied the knot to Prince Charles, the eldest son of Philip and Queen Elizabeth II. The Duke of Edinburgh continued trying to help her even as the marriage splintered, eventually leading to divorce in 1996.
“He decided that in the lack of anything else happening, he would write to Diana,” Seward said. “Diana was very grateful to him because basically she didn’t have to face seeing him that way. She could just deal with it in the letters, and he was helpful. And he said things like, ‘Diana, [you] must remember that this monarchy is not a popularity contest. It’s all of us working together,’ which is probably something he could have said to Meghan to try and make these newcomers understand that … it’s about the institute of the monarchy as a whole.”
Philip retired from his royal duties in 2017, shortly before Meghan, 39, wed his grandson Prince Harry in May 2018. Therefore, according to the Prince Philip Revealed author, he did not have quite the same opportunity to shepherd the former actress, but he still greeted her with open arms.
“He was very welcoming to Meghan because of course, she was a newcomer and a very different newcomer. At the time of Meghan and Harry’s romance, he wasn’t around nearly as much because he’d retired. So he didn’t see very much of Meghan at all. So he didn’t really have a chance to form a relationship with her,” Seward told Us. “He was determined that he was going to go to the wedding because he literally just had a hip operation six weeks before, which is a really good example of him being absolutely determined that whatever happened he was gonna walk down that aisle at the wedding and take his seat.”
Philip died on Friday at the age of 99. Meghan and Harry, 36, paid tribute to the late royal on their website. “IN LOVING MEMORY OF His Royal Highness,” the statement read. “The Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE…YOU WILL BE GREATLY MISSED.”
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Harry and Meghan, who are expecting their second child and are already parents of 23-month-old son Archie, stepped down from their senior roles within the royal family in January 2020 and have since relocated to California. A source told Us on Friday that the Duke of Sussex is “really upset” over his grandfather’s death, adding: “Harry feels guilty for not being there to say goodbye to Prince Philip in person.”
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi