At age 99, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh passed away after a long and storied life, to be missed by his family, friends, and many colleagues across the globe. With a small, intimate funeral (at which, yes, Prince Harry will be present) planned for this coming weekend, Philip’s loved ones are taking this week to share personal messages of mourning for the man they knew, including an ode to the place he’ll hold in the family from Harry and a message of his legacy within the royal institution from grandson Prince William. Sharing a never-before-seen photo taken by Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge of son Prince George with Philip, William wrote an emotional tribute to what Philip represented within the family — and, he seems to hint, how he hopes he and Kate can carry on his legacy in their own reign as king and queen.
“My grandfather’s century of life was defined by service — to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family,” read William’s statement, shared on Instagram and elsewhere. “I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life — both through good times and the hardest days. I will always be grateful that my wife had so many years to get to know my grandfather and for the kindness he showed her.”
“My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation,” he continued. “Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support The Queen in the years ahead. I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.”
The very British sentiment of wanting them to “get on with the job” can really only be interpreted as the job of the royal family (or “the Firm”), which will ultimately mean allowing the next heir Prince Charles to ascend to the throne — after which Prince William will become the king, and then his eldest son Prince George after him, pictured here with Philip.
By picturing George with Philip, William has, knowingly or unknowingly, set up the image of the Cambridge family as the future of the royals. His praising the many years that Kate was able to spend with Philip point to him wanting her to follow in the Duke’s footsteps as the monarch’s greatest supporter — as Philip was to the Queen, so Kate may be to William.
In celebrating his grandfather, William is also positioning himself as a future to the royal family that honors legacy and tradition, has learned from what came before, and has taught his children — the future of the monarchy — those same values. “I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage,” he writes, “and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humor!”
While William encouraging the public to think of his and Kate’s family as the bright future of the BRF is almost entirely positive, one tension remains: the fact that it is in fact Charles who is next in line, and that both he and William are well aware that the public would prefer the line of succession skip a generation this time around. While the royal family needs all the good PR it can get and the Cambridges are a crowd favorite, William will have to balance playing to the public with ensuring he doesn’t step on his father’s toes.
Before you go, click here to see the best photos of Prince Philip’s remarkable life.