July 24, 2021

the party that changed his relationship with the media

When Hollywood royalty mingled with British royalty, it likely changed the course of Windsor history. The ‘Hollywood Reporter’ remembers these days a party held in March 1966 in which Philip of Edinburgh, who died this Friday at the age of 99, rubbed shoulders with Cary Grant, Natalie Wood O Gregory Peck at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. In its impressive halls a gala ball was held in honor of the queen’s husband Isabel II and few in Hollywood wanted to miss out on such an event.

The night was full of anecdotes, many of them caused by the cream of the crop in the mecca of cinema. Louis Armstrong, one of those who passed by the stage to put music to the event, greeted the prince by changing his classic ‘Hello Dolly’ for a fun ‘Hello Philip’. The duke was amused by the change, which was greatly helped by the company of Shirley MacLaine, who sat next to him and acted as hostess.

Philip of Edinburgh, beyond Elizabeth II: his character with the family (for better and for worse)

Celia Maza. London

The greetings and the drinks followed one another. Joey Bishop, an essential comedian of the time, told him that it was very “exciting” to be interrupted by a prince. The duke responded with a loud laugh and showed, as the series ‘The Crown’ has done in some of its best chapters, that Philip of Edinburgh had a special tune with the world of entertainment, sometimes so opposed to the rigidity of the palace. The prince also liked movies and had his own screening room. According to the ‘Hollywood Reporter’, Felipe was the first member of the Windsor family who was aware of the importance of the media in reaching the town.

Clementine Hozier, with Felipe de Edimburgo in 1964. (Cordon Press)

In 1951, for example, he asked Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner to present an event aimed at raising funds for the National Association of Playgrounds. Got 14,000 pounds in just a few hours. In 1957, Felipe was the narrator of a television special entitled ‘The Restless Sphere: The Story of the International Geophysical Year’. His determination to promote the relationship of the monarchy with the media did not stop there, since that same year he advised Elizabeth II to change the medium for his annual Christmas message. Until that moment, the British sovereign communicated with her subjects through radio and since then she has done so through television.

The then princess Isabel, with her husband, her parents and her son Carlos. (Cordon Press)

In the late 1960s, Philippe of Edinburgh took a step further. ‘The Crown’ has also told us: he was one of those who most encouraged his wife to make that BBC television documentary that sought to humanize the family. The cameras shot about 43 hours of unscripted footage over ten months. That was, according to the most royalists, the beginning of the end: that the Windsors appeared before the British people roasting sausages humanized them too much. And the Duke of Edinburgh himself would see with surprise how that relationship with the press turned against him.

Over the years, he witnessed the dangerous interaction of Princess Diana with the media, the interview in which he broke down his relationship with Prince Charles or how the lives of his grandchildren were judged, with special attention Harry and Meghan’s ‘divorce’ from the royal family. In 2015, during a reception, the duke was so tired of photographers that, according to the biography ‘Phillip revealed’, he could not avoid a small confrontation with one of them. “Take the fucking picture,” he said. At the end of his life he came to realize that the marriage formed by the monarchy and the media is not always a happy marriage.