The Royal Family is typically the very embodiment of “stiff upper lip.” However, this tight-knit family isn’t above cracking the occasional joke, even at the expense of the Queen!
That’s what happened this past week when Prince Harry was caught on camera doing his best Queen Elizabeth impersonation. But what made Harry imitate the Queen like a child in the schoolyard? We’ve got the full details!
A tribute to Prince Philip
While Prince Harry ended up making headlines for his imitation of the Queen, the reason wasn’t meant to be such a funny affair. Harry’s imitation of the Queen was filmed as part of a BBC documentary honoring the life and legacy of his grandfather Prince Philip. Philip died peacefully on April 9, 2021, and the BBC has been working on this special tribute for many months. Called Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, the documentary aired on BBC One on Sept. 22.
Obviously, such a major tribute to Prince Philip was going to be very important for much of the Royal Family. But this documentary held a very special significance to Prince Harry.
RELATED: Inside the Funeral of Prince Philip
Why this documentary was so special to Prince Harry
These days, Prince Harry just can’t stay out of the headlines. There are many reasons why this happens, but most of them involve Harry’s unprecedented decision to leave his royal duties behind along with his country. Eventually, he and Meghan began entirely new lives in the United States.
However, stepping down as a working royal doesn’t make Harry any less of a prince or any less a member of the Royal Family. There are still duties in England he occasionally attends, including Prince Philip’s funeral and the unveiling of a special statue commemorating his mother Princess Diana.
But working with the Royal Family and the BBC on this tribute to Philip helped bring Harry back into the fold, despite the fact that he filmed his part in the U.S. He described the documentary as the first “family project” he has worked on since leaving the country.
Harry’s imitation of Queen Elizabeth
Because this tribute was so special to Harry, and because it will be part of Philip’s legacy, you might have expected the young prince to be deathly serious. So what, exactly, led to his unexpected imitation of the Queen?
It began with Harry looking through Prince Philip’s flight logs from a trip to Africa that he took back in 1983. Harry began discussing how interesting it was that Philip, despite his station, loved to step into the cockpit and fly the plane himself.
“He was doing all the flying himself, or certainly chunks of it. When you’re flying, you don’t get an easy pass just for being the Duke of Edinburgh. You very much have to put in the work and prove your skill,” Harry said. “But also he had an amazing privilege to get behind the controls and fly aircraft all around the world.”
This is when Harry got rather cheeky. “’I can just imagine my grandmother sitting in the back of a plane having a cup of tea, going through turbulence and going ‘Oh Philip! What are you doing?’”
The funny imitation of the Queen raised quite a few eyebrows. But we have to give it to Harry: the imitation seemed very spot-on!
Prince William gets in on the fun
Prince Harry and Prince William haven’t had the best relationship in recent years, but these two brothers always find common ground at these family events. And in this case, William wasn’t going to let Harry have all the fun when it comes to sharing funny anecdotes about Prince Philip!
Specifically, William recalled Philip’s odd habit of asking his grandchildren to hold a tube of mustard during family barbeques. Eventually, Philip would remove the lid to set up a prank. Laughing, William said that after removing the lid, Philip “would squish your hands together to fire the mustard up into the ceiling. He used to get into a lot of trouble with my grandmother for covering most of the places where we had lunch with mustard on the ceiling” (via The Daily Mail).
If that’s not outlandish enough, William’s cousin Peter Phillips chimed in claiming that the mustard stains are still there!
A complex (and often hilarious) legacy for Prince Philip
Certainly, mustard stains are one of the odder aspects of Philip’s legacy. But that ended up being a theme as family members told stories about Philip. The general consensus was that the man could be very blunt but also very funny.
For example, Prince Charles recalled Philip watching a young Charles play football. If Philip didn’t think Charles was working that hard, then he wouldn’t hesitate to yell out things like “Stop scratching your backside and do something!”
Generally, though, the memories were very fond. And Harry and William arguably gave the best tributes to the legacy of their grandfather. For example, Harry remembers seeing how happy Philip and Elizabeth were.
“The two of them together were just the most adorable couple. To me knowing the cheekiness of him and knowing that behind what the world sees you have two individuals who were very much in love and both, from a very young age, have dedicated their life to service… that is an incredible bond between two people.’
Meanwhile, William recalled what a powerful presence Philip was, and how equally powerful it was that he stepped aside to completely support Elizabeth as Queen.
“He’s always been the heart of the family and he’s always been a huge presence behind everything we have done, really. It was very much a man world’s back then, so for a man to give up his career to support a woman, albeit the Queen, was still quite a big step.”
As for the rest of the family, we’re not sure what steps (big or small) they will be taking next. But we can all cross our fingers that we get more hilarious imitations of the Queen along the way!