William and Harry salute ‘extraordinary man’ and ‘grandpa’

PM and Keir Starmer among those paying tribute to late Prince Philip

Princes William and Harry have paid tribute to their grandfather Prince Philip as MPs returned to Westminster to eulogise the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince William described his grandfather as an "extraordinary man" and promised to support Queen Elizabeth after his death.

“My grandfather’s century of life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and queen, and to our family,” Prince William said.

“I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life – both through good times and the hardest days. I will always be grateful that my wife had so many years to get to know my grandfather and for the kindness he showed her. I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour.”

‘Seriously sharp wit’

Prince Harry has returned to England from the United States and is in quarantine at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor ahead of Prince Philip's funeral next Saturday. In a statement issued through his Archewell foundation, he described Prince Philip as a man of service, honour and great humour.


“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. He will be remembered as the longest-reigning consort to the monarch, a decorated serviceman, a prince and a duke. But to me, like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ‘til the end,” he said.

Boris Johnson led tributes to Prince Philip in the House of Commons, celebrating the royal consort's numerous diplomatic gaffes as driving a coach and horses through the finer points of protocol. He said the world did not hold the prince's verbal blunders against him.

‘Break the ice’

“On the contrary, they overwhelmingly understood that he was trying to break the ice, to get things moving, to get people laughing and forget their nerves; and to this day there is a community in the Pacific islands that venerates Prince Philip as a god, or volcano spirit – a conviction that was actually strengthened when a group came to London to have tea with him in person,” the prime minister said.

“When he spoke so feelingly about the problems of overpopulation, and humanity’s relentless incursion on the natural world, and the consequent destruction of habitat and species, he contrived to be at once politically incorrect and also ahead of his time.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer joined in the tributes to Prince Philip, describing him as "a funny, engaging, warm and loving man". The prince will be buried at Windsor next Saturday after a funeral service with just 30 mourners in accordance with coronavirus restrictions.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times