EXCLUSIVE: Prince Philip was known as the tough-minded husband of Queen Elizabeth II who appeared impatient and demanding during public appearances – but the royal lit up when he could relax around children.
“I was lucky enough to film Prince Philip on a number of occasions,” True Royalty TV co-founder Nick Bullen told Fox News. “The one thing that has always stood out to me is his sense of fun. His sense of naughtiness, his sense of wanting to talk to people who weren’t impressed by him. He wanted to talk to real people. So he was absolutely brilliant when children were around. Because they weren’t impressed by him. And he loved that.”
Bullen, an award-winning documentarian, has been making programs about the British royal family for nearly 20 years and has worked with Philip’s eldest son, Prince Charles, for eight.
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“I was filming with the Duke of Edinburgh one time and I had my son with me,” Bullen recalled. “It was about carriage driving and the duke was a very good carriage driver. He really wrote the rule book here in the U.K. There’s a thing called ‘the suicide seat’… well, someone mentioned this, and my youngest son was just fascinated by the story. The duke literally leaped in and started telling this story in really gory detail. My son was just in awe as he told this story. And Philip just loved it. He really was just a man who wanted to connect with people.”
“Philip would talk about how people expected him to be very formal,” Bullen shared. “But he really just wanted to cut through all the flummery and get people to see him for what he was.”
Bullen said he never forgot how eager Philip was to connect with his son.
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“I think one of the reasons he was possibly drawn to children is because they weren’t impressed by him,” he explained. “They didn’t see him as this great royal figure. They just saw him as a rather interesting old man. Over the years, you would see him lifting children over barriers to come and meet the queen. He would wave children forward. He really wanted to make a difference for young people and just loved engaging with them.”
“There was one time where I was filming and I was just in awe at his ability to engage with young people,” Bullen shared. “He genuinely took the mickey out of them and poked fun at them in a really warm, engaging way that they loved. You just couldn’t believe that this was a member of the British royal family. But I think that was his greatest legacy – making a difference in the children he met throughout his life.”
Philip passed away on April 9 at age 99. In his lifetime, Philip fulfilled more than 20,000 royal engagements to boost British interests at home and abroad. He headed hundreds of charities, founded programs that helped British schoolchildren participate in challenging outdoor adventures and played a prominent part in raising his four children.
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From 1956, he was Patron and Chairman of Trustees for the largest youth activity program in Britain, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a program of practical, cultural and adventurous activities for young people that exists in over 100 countries. Millions of British children have had some contact with the award and its famous camping expeditions.
Philip is survived by the queen and their four children — Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — as well as eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.