Friday 19 January 2018

Prince Philip 'told Tony Blair’s team to f*** off’ over Diana’s funeral

Final journey: Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, plus princes William, Harry and Charles at the Diana's funeral 20 years ago
Final journey: Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, plus princes William, Harry and Charles at the Diana's funeral 20 years ago

Chris Baynes

Prince Philip reportedly told Tony Blair's communications team to "f*** off" during a row over Princess Diana's funeral.

An "anguished" Prince Philip is said to have grown furious after it was suggested Prince William and Prince Harry should walk behind their mother's coffin "to show the Royals cared".

The angry exchange reportedly happened during a conference call between Balmoral and Buckingham Palace, where Alastair Campbell and other members of the former Prime Minister's team were meeting Royal aides.

The Queen, who did not take part in the call, is said to have later made it clear she supported the Duke's emotional intervention.

Other ideas floated during the conversation included erecting a giant screen in a Royal park and inviting Nelson Mandela and other well-known personalities.

The call was witnessed by Anji Hunter, Mr Blair's influential Director of Government Relations, who has spoken of it in 7 Days, a new BBC film about Diana's funeral.

06/09/1997 of the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales, being carried into Westminster Abbey for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo.
06/09/1997 of the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales, being carried into Westminster Abbey for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo.

"I can remember – it sends a tingle up my back," she told a Channel 5 documentary earlier this year.

"We were all talking about how William and Harry should be involved and suddenly came Prince Philip’s voice. We hadn’t heard from him before, but he was really anguished.

Read More: Windsor change: Kate, Harry and the new Diana

Ms Hunter’s husband, Sky TV political commentator Adam Boulton, provided a vivid account of the phone call in his book about Blair's government, Tony’s Ten Years.

He wrote: "The Queen relished the moment when Philip bellowed over the speaker phone from Balmoral, 'F*** off. We are talking about two boys who have just lost their mother.'"

Asked about the Duke's outburst this week, Mr Boulton told the Mail on Sunday: "He was trying to remind everyone that human feelings were involved. No. 10 were trying to help the Royals present things in the best way, but may have seemed insensitive.

Former British PM Tony Blair
Former British PM Tony Blair

"The princes were uneasy about walking behind the coffin, but No 10’s advice that the Royals had to be seen mourning in public was right."

The Duke's anger subsided and he ultimately helped to persuade William, who had wanted to grieve in private, to walk with him behind Diana's coffin alongside Harry and the Earl of Spencer.

He is said to have asked William: "If I walk, will you walk with me?"

  • 7 Days will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday 29 August, at 7.30pm.

Independent News Service

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News