The Queen’s youngest child, 57, appears to be in high spirits on this glorious summer day in London despite the chance. Thursday would have been the 100th birthday of Edward’s father, Prince Philip, and he marks the date by reflecting on the Duke of Edinburgh’s legacy and his eponymous awards program.
Headlines probing the Sussexes’ relationship with the rest of the family have been frequent since the couple stepped down from their roles as royals last year and moved to California. Responding to a question about current family tensions, the Earl says the situation is “very sad”.
“Look, oddly, we’ve all been there before – we’ve all had undue intrusion and attention in our lives. And we’ve all handled this in slightly different ways, and listen, we wish them the best of luck. a really tough decision, ”said Edward.
Edward says he hopes the couple are happy before returning to the subject of the breakup, suggesting that disagreements occur in every family.
“It’s hard for everyone but it’s families for you,” he says.
“It was an experience that so many other families must have had in the year or the past 18 months and so in that sense it was particularly poignant,” said Edward. “There are a tremendous number of people who haven’t been able to express the respect they wish they had. I think a lot of people would have liked to be there to support the Queen.”
The queen continues
“I think it was a fantastic partnership, but over the last couple of weeks life has gotten considerably busier. Things are starting to open up more, there are more activities so strangely fulfilling somehow. a particular void, ”he said.
“I think there will be other times later in the year where I think it gets a little more poignant and a little more difficult. But for now, thank you so much for asking, I think everything the world is doing pretty well really, and working just a little too hard. “
“Rather too hard” to put it mildly. The monarch – despite her advanced age – has kept a constant diary in recent years. Even before the coronavirus disrupted life in the United Kingdom last March, she had led 296 engagements between 2019 and 2020.
Unable to do everything on her own, the monarch relies on several generations of close family members to accomplish more than 3,000 commitments each year both at home and abroad.
President Biden and Queen Elizabeth meet
Edward and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are increasingly taking a more active role in supporting the Queen following Harry and Meghan’s move to California, as well as Prince Andrew’s removal from public office due to his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“Trying to be there as a friendly ear sometimes is, absolutely, really important,” said Edward.
Edward says the meeting is a “perfect opportunity” for the couple to meet.
“We have all, as a family, had a very close connection to America. We have spent or we have used, not so much now, but we have spent a lot of time coming and going, keeping that connection, the connections, legacy … (we’ve) been through a lot together. And that’s what a great friendship is. “
What the pair will discuss is guessable, including his own. The fact that conversations with the monarch remain private these days “is a little strange,” said Edward.
“People really respect that this is a genuinely private and informal conversation so they can really talk about things and get to the heart of it and in a very authentic way because they know it won’t come out. . “
Philip and the Duke of Edinburgh Award
Instead, what the Royal Family have always made sure to defend publicly is their commitment to public service, an area in which Prince Philip was somewhat of an innovator. Arguably his biggest achievement was his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a youth development program he started in 1956.
“It’s a setting for activities. It was said to encourage young people and adults to get involved in non-formal activities or learning outside the classroom,” says Edward. “And of course, it has given adults and youth a chance to take control of their destiny, and no matter where in the world that youth or that adult is, it’s the same thing.
“And so the reason why I think it’s spread to 130 countries, and it’s doing particularly well in the US. It was a little late there but it’s great. really exciting about what’s happening in the United States is that almost 50% of the people involved are from what we would call at-risk or marginalized, disadvantaged young people, which is great because these are young people who can really benefit from it. “
Many alumni of the program speak fondly of their experiences.
“One of the highlights I had was volunteering in my local pantry with my Bronze Medal and seeing how important food insecurity is in our lives. giving back to my community really stuck with me. “
Ayanian has since continued her work to alleviate hunger, setting up a food drive in Boston when the pandemic struck, working with local businesses and individuals to support shelters and hospitals in the city.
“I have partnered with companies, distributors, restaurants and dedicated people to really do our part to help our community through these difficult times. But it all stems from this award and the impact it has really had on my life, ”she said.
“They were other people”
Ayanian says the program’s current international reach is an important part of Prince Philip’s legacy.
“He’s had such an impact not only on young people in the UK, but around the world, and I think that’s what’s so impressive about his work,” she says. “I really believe in the prize, that it will continue to be successful and have representatives to carry it through to future generations. And I am proud to be part of his legacy. It is truly an honor.”
“For me, this is one of the best things you can do as a young adult,” says Echániz. “You also go on these adventurous journeys where you work on your leadership, teamwork and exploration, and seek out new passions. “
He says he’s grateful the Duke of Edinburgh created the program. “He will be remembered as someone who has helped millions of young adults transform and become better people and conscious citizens.”
Edward too sees his father’s legacy in the many lives he has quietly helped change.
“He was always, always incredibly self-effacing, wasn’t he? They were other people. He just gave them a nudge, some encouragement and off we went,” he says. “And tragically it wasn’t until his death that everyone left, Wow, that’s what he did. And of course it’s too late – (he) never found out. But then, I suspect that if he had done it on his 100th birthday, a lot would have come out of it, and it would have been nice for him to have heard it himself.
“But then again, because he was so self-effacing, he just wouldn’t have wanted to fuss and trouble… it wasn’t him, it just wasn’t him at all.”
CNN’s Matthew Brealey and Luis Graham-Yooll contributed to this report.