How Philip’s practical jokes landed him in trouble with the Queen

Photo of The Duke of Sussex paying tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, in a documentary called Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers. Picture by: BBC/Oxford Films. Credit: PA

The Duke of Edinburgh would get into trouble with the Queen for playing a practical joke on his grandchildren which involved squirting mustard on the ceiling, members of the royal family have revealed.

Prince William recalled Philip’s sense of fun in a BBC One documentary being screened on Wednesday which features personal and poignant tributes to the duke, who died in April, from more than a dozen members of the royal family.

Both William and the Duke of Sussex also separately told how the Queen and Philip would enjoy it if things went amiss on royal engagements, while the Prince of Wales said his father’s attempts to teach him carriage driving failed because Charles kept laughing hysterically.

William said Philip loved to play a game at family barbeques using a squeezy mustard tube.

The duke said:

“He used to take the lid off and put it in your hands… and then he’d squish your hands together to fire the mustard onto the ceiling.”

“He used to get in a lot of trouble from my grandmother for covering most of the places we had lunch and things with mustard on the ceiling.”

Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall also told of the mustard escapades, with Zara saying:

“I can’t remember exactly what he says but he ends up slamming your hands together…. It goes all over the ceiling.”

Mr Phillips added:

“I actually think the marks are still there.”

The siblings also spoke about how the duke loved technology but would get frustrated with new gadgets.

Mr Phillips said:

“I just have memories of him getting a new laptop or a new printer, sitting in his office and hearing him shouting at it.”

Both William and Harry said the Queen and Philip looked forward to unexpected events while carrying out their official duties together over the decades.

William said:

“My grandfather loved things when they go wrong.

“Both my grandparents love that because you can imagine, they’ve lived a life where everything has to go right the whole time and so when things go wrong, they both chuckle an awful lot.

“Everyone else gets mortally embarrassed. They love it.”

Harry, who was filmed separately, chuckled and echoed William’s thoughts, saying:

“The two of them are going ‘Well I wonder if something’s gonna go wrong this year? How exciting’.”

Harry, using a cricket analogy, said Philip, who died two months before his 100th birthday, had a “fantastic innings”, scored a six, but “didn’t actually wanna get to a century”.

He spoke of the Queen’s bond with the duke, but said he knew the monarch would be “OK” without him. Harry said:

“More than anything I miss his humour but I miss him, I miss him more for my grandmother because I know how incredibly strong she was with him there. I also know that she’s gonna be ok without him.”

He described the Queen and Philip as “the most adorable couple”, who were very much in love.

Harry revealed how Philip would get his flying hours in while on official tours. He said:

“I just imagine my grandmother sitting in the back of the plane having a cup of tea and going through turbulence and going “Oh Philip, what are you doing?”

William described his grandfather as “the heart of the family” and expressed his admiration for Philip giving up his very successful career in the Navy to support a woman – the Queen – in the 1950s. The Duke said:

“It was very much a man’s world back then. And so for a man to give up his career to support a woman, albeit the Queen, was still quite a big step.”

Charles laughed as he remembered Philip trying to teach him to carriage drive.

The prince said:

“It didn’t last very long because, I don’t know why, I got complete hysterics driving the thing up the long walk with him getting more and more annoyed that I wasn’t concentrating properly.”

Princess Eugenie told how the duke gave her a touching bespoke handmade painting he had done of a bunch of flowers as a wedding present, as the documentary looked at Philip’s artistic skills.

“It was so nice, it’s now sitting in my house in London and I’m so proud of it, you know?” she said.

The royal family, who started to be interviewed for a programme to mark Philip’s 100th birthday, also spoke of the duke’s no nonsense approach, with William saying: “There’s no games played. He’s very up front”.

Alexandra McCreery, Philip’s archivist who worked with him for more than 30 years, described him as “quite tough” but a “very fair boss”.

“There was tremendous love for him, love for the office, loyalty to the private secretaries. They looked after us and, and we worked jolly hard for them so it was. It was a good ship to be in,” she said.

The Princess Royal, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Duchess of Cornwall and Lady Louise Windsor are among the others who feature in the broadcast.

Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers will air on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC One.


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