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The Duke of Edinburgh

My favourite Prince Philip moment: a grandfatherly moment on the London Tube

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh with their great grandchildren
Photo by The Duchess of Cambridge

As part of our obituary coverage marking the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Royal Central team are reliving some of their favourite moments involving His Royal Highness. In this article, Senior Royal Reporter Jess Ilse talks us through her most memorable moment.

I’ve always admired Prince Philip’s commitment to work and family, and he’s always been one of my favourite royals because of his unwavering sense of service and duty to both sides of royal life. He was a true original who, when told there wasn’t a traditional role for him, carved his own path and never waivered in his commitment to supporting The Queen, the Crown, and the Commonwealth.  

I’m sure there are countless moments I could recall, but today I want to focus on one moment that I keep returning to in my mind lately: a special moment he shared with his granddaughter-in-law, who was pregnant with his future great-grandson on the London Tube.

On 20 March 2013, The Duchess of Cambridge joined The Queen and Prince Philip to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Tube. She hadn’t been originally slated to attend but asked if she might join in, as taking the Tube was an aspect of normal life that she missed since her 2011 wedding. Without hesitation, The Queen agreed, and a pregnant Kate joined her grandparents-in-law.

According to royal reporters at the time, Kate noticed the engagement on the docket and asked to join in when she saw an opening on her own calendar. A royal source at the time said, “She just fancied it. She asked if she could come along.”

It was a poignant occasion for another reason, too: it was The Queen’s first engagement following a bout with gastroenteritis that landed her in hospital for 10 days.

Embed from Getty Images

While the royal trio toured the Baker Street station, Kate received a special gift that expectant mothers are given by the London Tube: a Baby on Board sticker that encourages others to consider giving up their seats for pregnant passengers.

In the moment, captured on video, Prince Philip can be seen keenly checking out the button and asking Kate questions about it, while she holds it up to her coat with a big grin on her face. Kate was five months pregnant with Prince George at the time and joked that she would wear the pin home.

To me, this quick moment exemplifies the type of family man Prince Philip was, and in light of William’s recollections earlier this week that he appreciated how his grandfather has shown such kindness to Kate and their children, it makes it all the more poignant. It’s such a grandfatherly gesture.

We’ve been lucky over the past week to see another side of Prince Philip as remembered by those who knew him and loved him best, and to see this side of him through Kate’s camera lens: to see those intimate moments shared with Prince George on a carriage; with Mia Tindall eating breakfast at Balmoral; with a newborn Princess Charlotte; and with The Queen and all their great-grandchildren.

I lost my grandfather in December, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him in some way. What I wouldn’t give to talk to him one last time and tell him how grateful I am to have known him and to have had him in my corner.

And so, as the world prepares to say goodbye to Prince Philip, and as a family says goodbye to a beloved grandfather and great-father, all I can think of is how lucky we all are to know the love that only grandfathers can give—that all-encompassing, quiet, steadfast love that shines through in even the briefest, most inconsequential moments, but lingers forever after.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.