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Queen's former press secretary: Philip was a 'Prince Charming to all of us'

Ailsa Anderson also remembered hearing stories about the Duke of Edinburgh sneaking into local pubs for a quick drink and a meal after royal engagements.
/ Source: TODAY

The former press secretary for Queen Elizabeth II remembered Prince Philip as a "Prince Charming to all of us" a day before the queen's husband will be laid to rest during a ceremony in London.

Ailsa Anderson shared some memories on TODAY Friday of the longest-serving consort in British history, who died at 99 on April 9, ahead of his funeral services at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

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"If you could go to a reception at Buckingham Palace, when there's always a corner where people are laughing, you know that would be the corner where Prince Philip was," Anderson told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. "He was like a lighthouse beacon. If he spoke to you, you would think you were the only person in the room, you were the most special person.

"He had extraordinary charm, extraordinary kindness. He was one of a kind. He was the queen's Prince Charming, but I think he was Prince Charming to all of us."

The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral ceremony will be a much more subdued affair than the usual royal funeral due to his wishes and the royal family wanting to avoid large crowds gathering during the pandemic.

Rather than thousands coming together to say goodbye, including a host of world leaders, there will be just 30 people at the event, which will include a procession with Prince Harry and his older brother, Prince William, walking behind his coffin.

"I think he would've wondered what all the fuss was about," Anderson said about Philip. "At the heart, he was an extraordinarily modest person. He didn't want to put himself first. It was all about the institution, it was all about the queen.

"So I think what he would be doing now would be looking down from heaven and thinking, 'Actually, rather the 800 people who should be there, it's only 30, so I've got the last laugh.'"


The modesty Anderson described also reportedly manifested itself in Philip occasionally sneaking into a local pub for a quick drink and a meal among the public over the years.

"I've often heard that on the way back from official engagements, if he felt like it, he and his protection officer would nip into a pub," Anderson said. "And the landlord would look once, and then look twice, and then double take again, and then not know what to do."

Philip was also a loving grandfather and great-grandfather whom Anderson often remembered lifting up small children over the barrier at public events to take them to meet the queen.

"He just had an extraordinary affinity with young people, with children, with everybody," she said. "It was such a special thing to see. More often than not, these kids wouldn't meet the queen if he hadn't been there to facilitate it. Again, it was never about him, it was always about other people."