The British author is the editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine. The 72-year-old has been covering the British royal family since the 1980s and has written more than 20 books on the subject. For her latest release, Seward spoke to numerous friends and associates close to Prince Philip,
“Philip had a great deal of sympathy with Meghan,” Seward told Fox News. “And I think that because Philip himself was an outsider when he married Princess Elizabeth. He was treated appallingly by the courtiers, but that was in 1947.”
“I think that Philip really understood that Meghan was going to find royal life difficult,” Seward said of the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh, “And he was supportive of her. But at his great age, there was a limit to how involved he wanted to be. At that age, you just don’t have the energy and the drive to interfere too much with your grandchildren’s lives.”
In January, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they would work independently from the royal family, splitting their time between the United Kingdom and North America. The couple revealed that their decision came “after many months of reflection and internal discussions.”
The couple previously spoke out about enduring ruthless tabloid rumors as new parents. Markle, 39, was a Hollywood actress before she became the Duchess of Sussex.
According to Seward, Philip would have seen the move as “very damaging” to the royal family.
“It all came as a huge shock,” Seward explained. “If Prince Philip would have been younger, he would have been more influential. He would have told Harry, ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing? Do you know what you’re giving up? You cannot have one foot in the palace and the other foot out. You have to make a decision and I don’t want you to regret it.’”
“Internally, Philip was very upset, but he wasn’t going to let Harry see that,” Seward continued. “And he’s always going to support his wife, [Queen Elizabeth II]. He knew that Harry and Meghan leaving would be damaging to the monarchy because people will then say, ‘What’s so awful that this young couple couldn’t bear to be part of it?’”
Seward said there’s no doubt Edward VIII came to mind when the couple chose to step back. Elizabeth’s uncle famously abdicated the throne after the British government, public and Church of England condemned his decision to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
The couple tied the knot in 1937 and remained together until Edward’s death in 1972 at age 77. Simpson remained single for her final years and passed away in 1986 at age 89.
“It was a very similar scenario, although in a totally different era,” Seward explained. “Meghan is a divorcee, which of course we are still a little old fashioned about in England. She’s American and Harry seemingly gave up everything for her. So there is a real similarity.”
“Wallis hated England,” Seward pointed out. “She hated the climate and felt people didn’t understand her or her sense of humor. In the case of Meghan, I think she very much felt that the British people didn’t understand her or particularly liked her. And I don’t think she was a great fan of England either. Her home is California and that’s where her heart is.”
Seward said that while Philip felt sympathy for the former co-star of the TV series, “Suits,” his priority will always be duty above all.
“He will always support the queen,” she said. “Harry and Meghan had their own agenda really. For Philip, he felt if that’s what they want to do, then that’s what they must do. But they will also have to face the consequences.”
Harry and Markle currently reside in California with their one-year-old son, Archie,
Philip retired from public life in 2017. He was the patron, president, or a member of more than 780 organizations, including many charities. He gave 5,496 speeches, wrote 14 books and went on 637 solo visits overseas, in addition to hundreds of trips with Elizabeth, 94. These days, Seward said Philip is enjoying a more quiet, private life.
“He likes watching television,” she explained. “He loves cooking programs. He’s always been incredibly interested in food and different ways of cooking it. He writes letters. He’s very deaf but still has his eyesight. He hasn’t been driving recently, but even in his 97th year, he was still going out with his horses and carriages. He’s very active for someone of his age. And he feels that’s what keeps him going every morning.
“Philip’s greatest legacy is the lessons he’s taught his sons, which were passed on to his grandsons and great-sons… He’s a sort of character who hardly exists anymore because he has this great devotion to duty. However uncomfortable it may be, he feels duty comes first. And I think people don’t have that anymore.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.