Prince Philip’s ‘difficult home life’ drove Duke of Edinburgh’s push for royal change

Prince Philip: Experts discuss royal's 'difficult home life'

Prince Philip’s family was forced to flee from Greece as his father, Prince Andrew of Denmark and Greece, risked to be executed for his role in Greece’s loss against Turkey in the Greek-Turkish war of 1919-1922. Until his marriage to the Queen in 1947, the Duke of Edinburgh lived a rather nomadic life between France, Germany and the UK without much purpose until he joined the Royal Navy before World War II. According to historian Dr Kate Williams, Philip’s early life experience shaped his approach to public life and as a leading member of the Royal Family.

Speaking to Channel 5 documentary ‘Prince Philip: The Bachelor Years’, Dr Williams said: “There was nothing of a home life for him.

“Some people who have difficult home lives who it drives to work harder and to succeed.”

Narrator Graham Seed questioned whether Prince Philip’s past could have influenced his behaviour towards his own family later in life, with expert Jennie Bond suggesting his struggles gave the Duke of Edinburgh the ability to cope with difficulties.

Ms Bond said: “Having such a troubled childhood gave him the backbone to put up with anything.”

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Some commentators had previously suggested Philip drew from his tragic past to support grandchildren Prince William and Prince Harry when they lost their mother Diana in 1997.

The Duke of Edinburgh is known to have played an important role in convincing the Duke of Cambridge to attend Diana’s funeral.

Biographer Philip Eade claimed the death of Philip’s older sister Princess Cecilie helped him find the right words to sway William after he originally demanded to be able to mourn for his mother in private.

Mr Eade said: “It was Prince Philip who worked to persuade the children to walk behind the coffin in the procession.

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“What was truly poignant was that all of this happened exactly 60 years after Prince Philip did the same in Germany at the funeral of his sister, who died in an air crash.”

In addition to changing how to address difficult situations within the family, the Duke of Edinburgh was also a key proponent of modernising the image the Royal Family had in public.

In 1969, the Duke convinced the Queen to host a BBC crew at Buckingham Palace to record their daily routines with their four children.

The documentary drew a large viewership but was only broadcast once before Her Majesty ordered the film to be withdrawn from public archives.

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The narrator of Italian documentary series Ulisse, Luca Ward, said: “Prince Philip had wanted the Royal Family to be more in step with the times and let the cameras enter the palace.

“For a few months, an entire crew followed the sovereign, her husband and their four children in their daily activities.

“The documentary ‘Royal Family’, broadcast in the summer of 1969, was a success in ratings, with 23 million viewers, but except for a few images no one has seen the entire film since.”

Mr Ward continued: “Elizabeth withdrew it from circulation. Perhaps she feared that showing the royals having a barbecue would cause the monarchy to lose the sacredness that guarantees her respect from her subjects.

“And ever since, Elizabeth’s attitude towards cinema and TV has always been much more cautious.”

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