Prince Philip thought Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was “madness” and that “no good would come of it,” his official biographer has said.
Gyles Brandreth, a long standing friend of the Duke of Edinburgh, who died aged 99 last week, is the only journalist ever to be granted a full-length sit-down interview with the duke. He knew Philip initially through their work together on an initiative to provide sports fields to disadvantaged communities, and remained a close confidant to his very last days.
Philip told Brandreth, a former member of parliament, that while his grandson’s decision to quit royal duties and move to the U.S. was “not the right thing, either for the country or for themselves,” he accepted it. He also understood Harry’s frustration with the press and told Brandreth, “It’s his life.”
Harry arrived back in the U.K. Sunday for his grandfather’s funeral. He is believed to be following government advice and isolating for five days. Reports have suggested he is staying at his old house, Frogmore Cottage.
Brandreth, in a long piece for the Daily Mail Monday wrote: “Harry had only succeeded his grandfather as Captain General of the Royal Marines in 2017. Philip had done the job for 64 years. Harry had barely managed 30 months. The Duke of Edinburgh was not pleased, nor did he believe that Harry and Meghan were doing the right thing.”
However Brandreth said Philip told him: “People have got to lead their lives as they think best.”
He added: “I know from someone close to him that he thought Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was ‘madness’ and ‘no good would come of it.’ I was not surprised because that is exactly how he described to me the personal TV interviews given by Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, back in the 1990s.”
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Brandreth said in his Daily Mail article, the first of several by him the newspaper will run this week, that Philip was not perturbed by the fact that the explosive interview screened while he was in hospital.
Brandreth said: “The fact that the Meghan and Harry interview was aired while Philip was in hospital did not trouble him. What did worry him was the couple’s preoccupation with their own problems and their willingness to talk about them in public.
“‘Give TV interviews by all means,’ he said, ’but don’t talk about yourself.’
“That was one of his rules. I know he shared it with his children. I imagine he shared it with his grandchildren, too.”
Brandreth said that Philip loved Harry, admired him for his service career and thought him “a good man.”
But Brandreth said Philip told him more than once: “It’s a big mistake to think about yourself. No one is interested in you in the long run. Don’t court popularity. It doesn’t last. Remember that the attention comes because of the position you are privileged to hold, not because of who you are. If you think it’s all about you, you’ll never be happy.”
Brandreth said Philip wouldn’t speculate on the future of the Royal Family. “There’ll be ups and there’ll be downs, but beyond that I’ve no idea what the future holds. There’s no point in speculating about it. All I’ll say is that I’ve tried to help keep it going while I’ve been here,” he said.
Brandreth said Philip desperately missed the freedom of being able to drive when he gave it up after causing a crash in January 2019. He said Philip told him: “It’s fucking annoying... when you’ve been driving for 80 years.”
The duke told Brandreth that he watched television, “without much pleasure,” but did not watch The Crown, quipping: “I have no interest in soap operas.”