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London (CNN)Edward, Earl of Wessex, pops his head around the door of the room in St James’s Palace and chuckles at the numerous cameras set up for the interview. “Do you have enough?” he laughs.
The Queen’s youngest child, 57, seems to be in good spirits on this glorious summer day in London despite the occasion. Thursday would have been the 100th birthday of Edward’s father, Prince Philip, and he is marking the date by reflecting on the Duke of Edinburgh’s legacy and his eponymous Award program.But there is an elephant in the room. Hours before CNN’s US exclusive sit-down with the Earl, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were forced to deny a report in the British media that they had not consulted the Queen about using her childhood nickname of Lilibet for their newborn daughter. Headlines probing the relationship between the Sussexes and the rest of the family have been frequent since the couple relinquished their roles as working royals last year and relocated to California. Responding to a question about current family tensions, the Earl says the situation is “very sad.””Listen, weirdly we’ve all been there before — we’ve all had excessive intrusion and attention in our lives. And we’ve all dealt with it in slightly different ways, and listen, we wish them the very best of luck. It’s a really hard decision,” Edward says. Read MoreHarry and Meghan have often spoken about the pressures of royal life and being constantly scrutinized by the media. In a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, the Duke said the relentless scrutiny was one of the deciding factors in the family’s move to the United States. In her discussion with Winfrey, the Duchess also revealed she had contemplated suicide during her first pregnancy and that there had been questions over the skin color of their then-unborn son, Archie.Edward says he hopes the couple are happy before returning to the subject of the rift, suggesting disagreements happen in every family. “It’s difficult for everyone but that’s families for you,” he says.For several reasons, it’s been a challenging few months for Britain’s royal family, who are still mourning the loss of their patriarch in April. Due to Covid-19 measures at the time, the funeral arrangements were considerably scaled back by royal standards, and the number of attendees limited to just 30 people.”It was an experience that so many other families have had to go through during this past year or 18 months and so in that sense, it was particularly poignant,” says Edward. “There are an awful lot of people who haven’t been able to express the respect that they would like to have done. I think many people would have liked to have been there to support the Queen.” Photos: Prince Philip's funeralBritain’s Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat at the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip, on Saturday, April 17.Hide Caption 1 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralMembers of the royal family follow Prince Philip’s coffin into St. George’s Chapel.Hide Caption 2 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralFrom left, Philip’s grandsons Prince William, Peter Phillips and Prince Harry walk behind his coffin during the funeral procession. Behind them are the Earl of Snowdon David Armstrong-Jones and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence. Armstrong-Jones is the son of the Queen’s late sister Margaret. Laurence is Princess Anne’s husband. After the funeral, Prince William and Prince Harry were seen chatting and walking together.Hide Caption 3 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralAll members of the congregation wore a face covering during the funeral.Hide Caption 4 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralScouts and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award participants look at a picture of Prince Philip in Jinja, Uganda. Hide Caption 5 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPrince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, bow their heads in prayer during the ceremony.Hide Caption 6 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPrince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are seen on television as people watch the funeral from a pub in Winkfield, England.Hide Caption 7 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralDavid Conner, the Dean of Windsor, speaks during the funeral.Hide Caption 8 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPrince Harry attends the funeral service. His wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, was advised by her doctor to stay at home in the United States. She is pregnant with the couple’s second child.Hide Caption 9 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralThe end of the funeral was marked by the Buglers of the Royal Marines sounding “Action Stations,” an announcement that would traditionally be made on a naval warship to signify that all hands should go to battle stations.Hide Caption 10 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralThe Queen, left, watches as pallbearers carry Philip’s coffin inside St. George’s Chapel.Hide Caption 11 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralMembers of the public take part in a two-minute silence outside Windsor Castle during the funeral of Prince Philip.Hide Caption 12 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralGuardsmen and royal household staff take part in the ceremony.Hide Caption 13 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPrince Edward sits with his wife, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, and their two children, James and Louise, during the funeral.Hide Caption 14 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPhilip was intimately involved in planning his own funeral service, making sure the ceremony reflected his military affiliations and personal interests.Hide Caption 15 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPrince William and Prince Harry take part in the funeral procession.Hide Caption 16 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPallbearers are followed by members of the royal family inside St. George’s Chapel.Hide Caption 17 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralThe Queen stands during the funeral. She and Prince Philip were married for 73 years.Hide Caption 18 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPhilip’s coffin is carried up the steps of the chapel.Hide Caption 19 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPrince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, sit in St. George’s Chapel during the funeral.Hide Caption 20 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralDrivers, Grenadier Guards and royal household staff stand outside during the funeral.Hide Caption 21 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralA woman looks toward Windsor Castle and St George’s Chapel during the funeral of Prince Philip.Hide Caption 22 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralMembers of the royal family walk behind Philip’s coffin during the procession to St. George’s Chapel. At right is Philip’s son Prince Andrew. Behind Andrew are Philip’s grandsons Prince William, Peter Phillips and Prince Harry.Hide Caption 23 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralDuring the procession, Philip’s coffin was carried by a modified Land Rover that he helped design.Hide Caption 24 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralFrom left, Philip’s grandsons Peter Phillips, Prince William and Prince Harry take part in the funeral procession.Hide Caption 25 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralThe procession advances toward St. George’s Chapel.Hide Caption 26 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralWorld War II veteran Malcolm Clerc, 94, watches the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh at his home in Knutsford, Cheshire. Hide Caption 27 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPhilip’s coffin, draped with his personal flag, had his sword, naval cap and a wreath of flowers laid on top.Hide Caption 28 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPrince Charles and Princess Anne prepare for the funeral procession to begin.Hide Caption 29 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralThe Queen arrives at St. George’s Chapel.Hide Caption 30 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralA crowd gathers near the Queen Victoria statue for a two-minute silence outside Windsor Castle during the funeral of Prince Philip.Hide Caption 31 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralSome of Philip’s closest aides, including his private secretary and personal protection officer, also walked in the procession. Hide Caption 32 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPhilip’s coffin arrives at St. George’s Chapel.Hide Caption 33 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPallbearers carry Philip’s coffin into St. George’s Chapel.Hide Caption 34 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralA couple watches the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on their smartphone.Hide Caption 35 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralMembers of the royal family walk behind Philip’s coffin during the procession to St. George’s Chapel. In the first row here are Philip’s sons Prince Andrew, left, and Prince Edward. Behind them are Philip’s grandsons Prince William, Peter Phillips and Prince Harry.Hide Caption 36 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPrince Charles walks behind his father’s coffin during the procession.Hide Caption 37 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralImages of the Queen and Prince Philip are displayed at London’s Piccadilly Circus on Saturday.Hide Caption 38 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralCatherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, attends Philip’s funeral.Hide Caption 39 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralStudents from Gordonstoun, Philip’s former school, observe a minute of silence Saturday in Moray, Scotland.Hide Caption 40 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralThe Queen is seen in the Royal Bentley on the way to her husband’s funeral.Hide Caption 41 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralCamilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, stand outside St. George’s Chapel before the funeral.Hide Caption 42 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralMembers of the military gather in Windsor Castle’s Quadrangle ahead of the funeral.Hide Caption 43 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralMembers of the Coldstream Guards march at Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral.Hide Caption 44 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralCamilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrives for the funeral service.Hide Caption 45 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPrince Philip’s insignia is seen on the altar at St. George’s Chapel.Hide Caption 46 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralFloral tributes are laid out on the grounds of Windsor Castle.Hide Caption 47 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralMilitary members are seen in formation before the funeral.Hide Caption 48 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralA woman takes a photo of her children outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday.Hide Caption 49 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralBalmoral Nevis and Notlaw Storm, the Fell ponies that belonged to Prince Philip, are led through the grounds of Windsor Castle before the funeral.Hide Caption 50 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralYoung sailors from Prince Philip’s former school Gordonstoun lay a wreath in the Moray Firth, off the coast of Hopeman Harbour. Hopeman Harbour is where Philip learned to sail.Hide Caption 51 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPeople gather outside Windsor Castle before the funeral.Hide Caption 52 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralMembers of the Household Cavalry march ahead of the funeral service.Hide Caption 53 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralPeople are seen outside Windsor Castle.Hide Caption 54 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralA nine-gun salute is fired in Valletta, Malta, to honor Prince Philip before his funeral.Hide Caption 55 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralA minute of silence is observed for Philip before a professional soccer match in London between Brentford and Millwall on Saturday.Hide Caption 56 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralA police officer stands guard at Windsor Castle before the funeral.Hide Caption 57 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralThe King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery enters Windsor Castle.Hide Caption 58 of 59 Photos: Prince Philip's funeralA flag flies at half-staff over Buckingham Palace on Saturday.Hide Caption 59 of 59The Queen carries onFollowing the Queen’s lead, as always, senior royal family members have since returned to their duties and are once again fulfilling a busy schedule of video calls and in-person engagements.Asked how the 95-year-old monarch is faring following the loss of her husband of 73 years, Edward responds that she is “actually doing remarkably well.” “I think that it was a fantastic partnership, but over the last couple of weeks, life has got considerably busier. Things are beginning to open up more, there are more activities so weirdly that sort of fills any particular void,” he said.The monarch visits the HMS Queen Elizabeth ahead of the ship’s maiden deployment on May 22, 2021 in Portsmouth, England. “I think there are going to be other times further along the year where I think that it will become a bit more poignant and a bit harder. But at the moment, thank you very much indeed for asking, I think that everybody’s in pretty good shape really, and just working rather too hard.””Rather too hard” may be something of an understatement. The monarch — despite her advancing age — has consistently maintained a demanding diary in recent years. Even before the coronavirus upended life in the UK last March, she had conducted 296 engagements between 2019 and 2020.Unable to do everything herself, the monarch leans on several generations of close family members to complete more than 3,000 engagements both at home and abroad each year.President Biden and Queen Elizabeth to meetEdward and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are increasingly playing a more active role in supporting the Queen following Harry and Meghan’s relocation to California, as well as Prince Andrew’s withdrawal from public duties over his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.”Trying to be there as a friendly ear at times is, absolutely, is really important,” Edward says.One important meeting on the Queen’s books this week is her first face-to-face with US President Joe Biden, who is in Britain for the latest G7 summit. Their meeting on Sunday will be the first between the two leaders since Biden took office in January — and he will be the 14th US commander-in-chief with whom she’s met.Edward says the get-together is a “perfect opportunity” for the pair to meet. US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrive aboard Air Force One at RAF Mildenhall, England on Wednesday, ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall.”We’ve all, as a family, had very close links with America. We spent or we used to, not so much now, but we used to spend a lot of time going backwards and forwards, maintaining those links, the connections, the heritage … (we’ve) been through a lot together. And that’s what really good friendship is about.”What the pair will discuss is anyone’s guess, including his. The fact that conversations with the monarch stay private in this day and age “is a bit strange,” Edward says. “People really do respect the fact that this is a genuinely private, off-the-record conversation so they really can talk about things and get to the heart of things and in a very genuine fashion, because they know it’s not going to come out.”Philip and the Duke of Edinburgh’s AwardInstead, what the royals have always made sure to champion publicly is their commitment to public service, an area in which Prince Philip was something of an innovator. Arguably his greatest achievement was his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award — a youth development program he established in 1956.”It’s a framework of activities. It was said to encourage young people and adults to get involved in non-formal activities or out-of-classroom learning,” Edward says. “And of course, it empowered both adults and young people to take control of their destinies, and it doesn’t matter where in the world that young person or that adult is, it’s the same.”And hence the reason why I think it’s spread to 130 countries, and it’s doing particularly well in the States. It was a bit of a late start over there but it’s brilliant. And what’s really exciting about what’s going on in the States is that nearly 50% of the people involved are from what we would call at risk or marginalized, disadvantaged young people, which is, which is brilliant because those are young people that can really benefit from this.”The Duke of Edinburgh attends the Presentation Reception for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award holders in the gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on July 6, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland.Many of the program’s alumni speak fondly of their experiences. “What I really liked about it is that the award is so diversified, there’s so many different components to it,” says Kristina Ayanian, a 24-year-old senior listings analyst at NASDAQ, who holds a Bronze, Silver and Gold Award from The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.”One of the highlights that I had was volunteering at my local food pantry from my Bronze Medal Award, and seeing how food insecurity is so prominent in our lives. That connection to giving back to my community really stayed with me.”Ayanian has since continued her work with hunger relief, 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 partnered with corporations, distributors, restaurants, and dedicated individuals really to do our part in helping our community during these trying times. But it all stems from this award and the impact that it really made on my life,” she says.’It was about other people’Ayanian says the program’s present-day international reach is an important part of Prince Philip’s legacy.”He has made such a impact on, not only youth in the UK, but globally, and I think that that’s what’s so impressive with his work,” she says. “I truly believe in the Award, that it’s going to keep succeeding and keep having representatives to carry it on through future generations. And I’m proud to be a part of his legacy. It’s really an honor.”One representative continuing his Award journey is 19-year-old Víctor Echániz. Part of the program for the past five years, the Berklee College of Music double major student is also currently serving as an Alumni Award Leader at the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA while completing his own Gold Award level.”For me it’s one of the best things you can do as a young adult,” Echániz says. “You also go on these adventurous journeys where you get to work on your leadership, on your team building, and on your exploration, and seek out new passions.”He says he’s grateful that the Duke of Edinburgh created the program. “He will go down as someone who has helped millions of young adults transform themselves and develop into better people and aware citizens.”Prince Edward and his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 2018.Edward, too, sees his father’s legacy in the many lives he quietly helped to change. “He was always, always incredibly self-effacing wasn’t he? It was about other people. He just gave them the nudge, the encouragement and off they go,” he says. “And tragically, it wasn’t until he passed away that everybody went, 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 made it to his 100th birthday, a lot of that would have come out, and it would have been lovely to for him to have heard it himself.”But then again, because he was just so self-effacing, he just wouldn’t have wanted the fuss and the bother … that wasn’t him, that was just not him at all.”
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