Where the royal family is concerned, there’s no denying that Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan (née Markle) are public darlings. Exhibit A? They got a dog, and the entire world went gaga over it. But as adorable as the Harry and Meghan are, they apparently aren’t the most popular royals among palace staff. That honor goes to none other than the palace patriarch, Prince Philip.
For the first two seasons of Netflix’s The Crown, actor Matt Smith filled the debonair shoes of the young Prince Philip character — a role for which he earned an Emmy nomination. Accordingly, Smith had to learn about Philip on much more than a surface level. What he found, he says, is that despite his cantankerous reputation, Philip is quite beloved.
— Film & TV 24/7 (@filmandtv247) August 29, 2018
“One of the interesting challenges for me was that I felt there was a sort of misconception and a preconception about him, which reduced him a bit. And actually all the research I did found him to be brilliantly funny, very clever, very popular,” Smith told Variety.
Then came the revelation of Philip’s status in the palace.
“In the royal house he’s the most popular of all of them,” the actor insisted. “If you’ve talked to any of the staff, Philip’s the one they all love really.”
As for what it is about Philip that makes him so lovable, Smith says he hasn’t lost the quote-unquote common touch. “I think more than a lot of them, he’s a bit more of a man of the people. The royal protocol hasn’t dogged him in quite the same way his whole life and there’s a sort of rebellion in him and a naughtiness and a cheekiness,” Smith shared, calling Philip “quite affable” with the staff.
It’s an interesting notion given how checkered Philip’s reputation (and subsequent portrayal on The Crown) has been portrayed in mainstream media. Married to Queen Elizabeth II since 1947, the Duke of Edinburgh is known for courting controversy — from alleged affairs to making off-color, off-the-cuff comments.
9/45 #RoyalFamily Portraits Through the Years -1947 – A young Queen Elizabeth II, Philip Mountbatten, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, King George VI and Princess Margaret pose in July 1947 in the royal apartments to celebrate Elizabeth and Philip's engagement. #Royals pic.twitter.com/EpNb8kQAnU
— Prince George (@PrinceHRHGeorge) August 22, 2018
However, in his six decades as the queen’s consort, Philip has managed to evade any major scandal, largely because so little of his rumored behavior has actually been substantiated.
And now, the good prince has Smith’s claims that he curries favor with the royal family going for him. If Harry, Meghan, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (better known as Kate Middleton) ever hope to usurp him as palace favorite, perhaps they should enroll as students of Philip’s master class in keeping people guessing.