“She’s my grandmother to me first, and then she’s the Queen,” says Prince William in the new book Our Queen. “Words that come from her, I take very personally and I really appreciate.”
William spoke about the Queen to author Robert Hardman for the book, and the published comments reveal as much about the studied thoughtfulness and poise of the Prince as they do about the emotional fortitude of the Queen.
“My relationship with my grandmother has gone from strength to strength,” said William. “As a shy, younger man it could be harder to talk about weighty matters. It was: ‘This is my grandmother who is the Queen, and these are serious historical subjects.’ As I’ve got older, she’s become an even more important part of my life, so it’s much easier.”
Excerpts of the interviews from Our Queen ran in The Daily Mail. William discussed topics ranging from how his grandmother offers advice to her personal feelings about her recent trip to Ireland.
Before last May, the Queen had never visited Ireland. There was obviously difficult personal family history – her husband’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten, had been killed by the IRA in 1979 – but William said the trip was about moving beyond the past.
“It’s ‘personal’ versus ‘duty.’ There’s a big difference,’ the Prince said. “As far as she was concerned, in terms of the relationship between Britain and Ireland and the Troubles, it was time to move on from that.”
“It was not about her losing Lord Mountbatten when she was younger,” William continued. “It was about the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is close relations between the state of Ireland and the UK. It was a great time to say: “Let’s move on. Some horrendous things have been done over the years, but let’s look to the future.”
Other excerpts from Prince William’s interviews about the Queen:
• After announcing their engagement, Buckingham Palace sent Will and Kate a preliminary wedding guest list of 777 people, none of whom the couple knew. He called up the Queen to ask her if he really needed to invite them. According to Wiliam, she answered, “No, start with your friends first and then go from there.” And then she told him to throw away the list.
• William says he knows how difficult it must have been for the Queen, as a young woman, to assume the throne.
“Back then, there was a very different attitude to women,” he said. “Being a young lady at 25 — and stepping into a job which many men thought they could probably do better — it must have been very daunting.”
He tells Hardman that he’s in awe of how she succeeded: “You see the pictures of her and she looks so incredibly natural in the role.”
• It’s pretty obvious that William is looking at his grandmother for clues about what lies ahead for himself: “You think how loads of 25-year-olds — myself, my brother and lots of people included — didn’t have anything like that. And we didn’t have that extra pressure put on us at that age. It’s amazing that she didn’t crack. She just carried on and kept going. And that’s the thing about her: you present a challenge in front of her and she’ll climb it. And I think that to be doing that for 60 years, it’s incredible.”
• And the Queen shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed, Hardman says that last year saw a nearly twenty percent increase in the number of her engagements, and he asked whether the royal family tries to get her to take it a little easy.
“We all do,” William replied. “For the grandchildren, it’s a bit difficult for us to say “take it easy” when she’s so much older than us and has done so much more. We do hint at taking some things off her, but she won’t have anything of it.”
“She’s so dedicated and really determined to finish everything she started. She’ll want to hand over knowing she’s done everything she possibly could to help, and that she’s got no regrets and no unfinished business; that she’s done everything she can for the country and that she’s not let anyone down — she minds an awful lot about that.”