Opinion: Philip praised while Harry slammed for the same move

Katherine Chatfield
·Columnist
·5-min read

After a photo of Prince Philip from 1957 was recently brought to light, it showed a striking resemblance between the young Duke of Edinburgh and his grandson, Prince Harry. 

The red hair, bristly beard and glint in Philip’s eye on the Paris Match cover are almost indistinguishable from those of his grandson.

But as the two men’s physical similarities have become glaringly obvious, as time passes it’s becoming clearer that their personalities - and the paths they’ve chosen - are also very alike.

The pair had a close relationship and were often seen laughing and joking together in public. It’s believed they became particularly close after Diana died, when Philip took it upon himself to step up and become a support figure for Harry, and his brother William. 

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“A member of the Balmoral staff noted that Prince Philip, who had effectively lost his own mother at the age of 10 when she was committed for three years to an asylum in Switzerland, was brilliantly effective with his grandsons, offering them gruff tenderness and outdoor activities like stalking and hiking to tire them out," wrote author of The Diana Chronicles, Tina Brown.

Prince Harry attends the 91st Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey on November 7, 2019 in London
Prince Harry is very like his grandfather, Prince Philip. Photo: Getty Images
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But it appears more of Philip’s values and behaviour rubbed off on Harry than first realised. 

Philip spent 70 years of his life as the Queen’s consort, supporting his wife and, as she declared herself, being “her strength and stay.” 

Although at times, it was reported Philip was frustrated with his role, in public he was her ultimate champion. “He totally put his personal career aside to support her, and he never takes the limelight, never oversteps the mark,” revealed Prince William several years ago. “He’s always on her side, and he’s an unwavering companion.”

While Prince Philip was celebrated for supporting his wife, Harry has been criticised for doing the same thing. 

Prince Harry and Prince Philip laughing
Prince Philip and his grandson Prince Harry have always been close. Credit: Getty Images

It doesn’t take much to see that the Duke of Sussex is relishing the role of ‘supporter’ in his marriage to Meghan. 

He’s stepped down from his own royal career to ensure her happiness, and stands behind her in all of her endeavours. From the moment he released a statement when they first started dating about “how deeply disappointed he is not able to protect her [from some negative press]", it was clear that he saw his new role as that of her supporter. Whatever the public might feel about the pair’s decision to step away from the royal family, nobody can dispute that Harry always does the right thing by his wife – just as his grandfather did by his.

Although many people will remember Philip for his often insensitive and old-fashioned gaffes, in many ways the Duke of Edinburgh was ahead of his time, and a force for change within the royal family. 

He stood up to the Queen Mother who wanted to continue using footmen to pass messages in the palace rather than have phones installed, and pushed for the Queen’s coronation to be televised live in 1953. He was also the first member of the royal family to have a computer in his office. Although these things might seem insignificant now, at the time they were a big deal – and encouraged the royal family to move with the times.

Prince Philip and Prince Harry in military uniform
Prince Philip and Prince Harry shared a love of the military. Credit: Getty Images

Harry appears to have inherited this desire to push the royal family forward. Although his revelation of racism in the palace has been tumultuous for the institution, it’s compelled them to change how they work behind closed doors. 

After Harry and Meghan spoke to Oprah about the racism they experienced within the Firm, the palace has announced they will hire a diversity advisor to ensure the monarchy are appropriately advised. As his grandfather did before him, Harry isn’t afraid to stand up to family members to ensure the institution isn’t left behind.

Both men credit their military careers as having shaped them. Prince Philip excelled at cadet college, but when it was understood that he might marry the then Princess Elizabeth, he was kept away from battle zones in World War II. 

However, he was desperate to fight, and managed to be posted to a battleship that was escorting Australian troops in the Indian Ocean. He credited his time in the navy to keeping his ego in check. “You're at sea and exposed to the elements in a way you never are ashore,” he revealed. "At sea you're in a cockleshell in this enormous expanse of the ocean. So that tends to cut you down in size a bit."

Harry also found his feet in the military. The Duke of Sussex had a ten year career in the army, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and believes it helped him deal with his mum’s death. “I dread to think where I'd be without the army,” he has said. "You can make bad choices in life, some severe, but it's how you recover from those and which path you end up taking. And the army has done amazing things for me."

The sense of fun that Philip was known for by his friends and family, has also been passed down to Harry. We all know that Harry likes to party, and although he’s no longer spotted in Vegas with his mates, his sense of humour and love of life is evident. 

Prince Philip was the same – right up until he died. "He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm - and also because you never knew what he might say next,” Harry said in his tribute to his grandfather. “Master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right 'til the end."

Like grandfather, like grandson.

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