As a six-year-old growing up in Paris, Prince Philip often arrived at school half an hour early. While he waited for his fellow pupils, he spent the time cleaning blackboards, filling inkwells, straightening the classroom furniture, picking up litter and watering the plants.
It was his British nanny, Emily Roose, who inspired such behaviour, instilling in him from a very young age a strong sense of duty. And although he would shortly afterwards move to Britain for the rest of his education, his early dedication to public service remained. More than 90 years later it is undimmed.
In 2016, the year of the Queen’s 90th birthday, she was asked to present the trophies on Derby Day. After the big race at Epsom, the Monarch took her place as those connected to the winning horse mounted the dais one by one.
Throughout the ceremony, her 94-year-old husband was standing upright as always, slightly to one side of the Queen. He was impeccably dressed in a morning suit with a grey top hat and a colourful green-and-maroon tie.
Philip shook hands with each winner but took no part in the presentation. Despite the Queen’s passion for horse-racing, he has little interest and tries not to look bored at such events.
The Derby is not a state occasion, so why did Philip make the trek only a week after doctors had ordered him to cancel his official engagements because of fears about his health? It was his sense of duty – the knowledge that his place is at the Queen’s side – or, more often, two paces behind her.
The Duke of Edinburgh ‘is an alpha male playing a beta role,’ says behavioural psychologist and Royal body language expert Dr Peter Collett. ‘But he accepts that as it’s his duty’.
As a result, it grieves Philip that many younger members of the Royal Family do not appear to share his values. He has struggled greatly, for example, with what he sees as his grandson Harry’s dereliction of duty, giving up his homeland and everything he cared about for a life of self-centred celebrity in North America.
He has found it hard to understand exactly what it was that made his grandson’s life so unbearable. As far as Philip was concerned, Harry and Meghan had everything going for them: a beautiful home, a healthy son, and a unique opportunity to make a global impact with their charity work.
For a man whose entire existence has been based on a dedication to doing the right thing, it appeared that his grandson had abdicated his responsibilities for the sake of his marriage to an American divorcee in much the same way as Edward VIII gave up his crown to marry Wallis Simpson in 1937.
Another situation that has troubled Philip, who has dedicated his married life to improving the standing and popularity of the Royal Family, has been the behaviour of Prince Andrew
The Queen’s favourite child, named after his paternal grandfather, Andrew had a promising start as a young man but became something of a problem.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Ingrid Seward