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Joanna Lumley pays tribute to 'kind, funny and very sharp' Prince Philip

Joanna Lumley has paid tribute to the sharp wit and kindness of the Duke of Edinburgh.

The life of Prince Philip has been celebrated at church services across Britain today - the third of eight days of national mourning.  

The Duke of Edinburgh, died at Windsor Castle on Friday. He was 99.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show today, actress and activist Joanna Lumley recounted times when she had the 'great pleasure' to have met Philip.  

'He was very kind, you know, I think that's quite often overlooked,' she said. 'He was very funny and very sharp, but very kind.' 

She added: 'I think he liked vigour, he liked get-up-and-go. He didn't like whingers and moaners, he liked people who challenged themselves. 

'And then for the very humble and the very frail and very nervous, I think he was kind.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show today, actress and activist Joanna Lumley recounted times when she had the 'great pleasure' to have met Philip

The Duke of Edinburgh talks with Joanna Lumley during a Gala Evening marking the 60th anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award at Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, 2016

A 'pity' Prince Philip will be remembered for his gaffes, former Archbishop says

Dr John Sentamu has said it is a 'pity' the Duke of Edinburgh will be remembered for his gaffes, saying 'behind those gaffes was an expectation of a comeback'.

The former Archbishop of York said Philip was always looking for robust debate and for someone to challenge him, and that he always walked away from conversations with the duke feeling 'energised'.

Speaking to BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Dr Sentamu said people had sometimes been 'too deferential to Philip' because of his status.

'I am sure he regretted some of those phrases, but in the end it is a pity that people saw him simply as somebody who makes gaffes,' he said.

'Behind those gaffes was an expectation of a comeback but nobody came back and the gaffe unfortunately stayed.'

Dr Sentamu went on: 'He would make an off-colour remark but if somebody challenged him you would enter into an amazing conversation.

'The trouble was that, because he was the Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of the Queen, people had this deference.'

Dr Sentamu recalled an incident when he himself had made a joke about racism, and the duke had approached him and demanded: 'Do you think that's fair?'

He said the challenge had led to an in-depth discussion about what Philip was trying to achieve with the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

'It was an eye-opener,' Dr Sentamu said.

'(The award) was in every country he had been to, and when he met young people - whether they were black, whether they were white, whether they were Asian - actually it didn't make the slightest bit of difference, as long as they were given the opportunity to get on in life.'

Dr Sentamu said Philip believed the majority of people who felt downtrodden had not been given real opportunity in life, and the award was intended to create a level playing field.

He said that with the duke 'there were no conversations that were off limits' and that Philip had also closely followed the inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence.

'Whenever I met him we would get into a conversation - (about) something that he had been thinking about - and then he would also give a very robust reply,' Dr Sentamu said.

Referring to the Lawrence inquiry, he said: '(Philip) came and ask me about how it all was and he said 'You must have had a very tough time listening to evidence - it really was appalling'.

'Then we had a conversation of about three or four minutes.'

He added: 'There were areas we disagreed about but he loves a very good conversation and he doesn't want you to let him off or for you to be let off.'

Dr Sentamu said the duke had also been very open and accepting of the fact that we live in an ever-changing world, and was wary of the word 'reform'.

He recounted a conversation in which Philip told him: 'Please look around you, everything is changing, nothing is static, and the only thing that is stable - the Earth - is still revolving around.'

Dr Sentamu said the duke believed the important thing was 'to make sure that you are there to make a better change than a terrible one'.

He continued: '(Philip) would go for 'change' rather than 'reform' because he would say 'I don't know what that means, because the powerful are the ones that want reform, and who do they want to reform? The weaker people. But if we talk about change, all of us are involved in it.'

'The whole of the Duke of Edinburgh awards is to make people better, to make people see the best in themselves, and I think he did that when talking to people as well.'

She revealed that on one occasion when she was sat beside him at a function, another guest was discussing hunting, fishing and shooting. The duke then noticed Ms Lumley's vegetarian meal, and politely changed the subject to include her. 

She also spoke of Philip's passion for the environment, adding: 'When you think how far ahead he was in realising this perfect world we live in can only be ruined by human beings... he was always interested in those sorts of things, he was invigorating company.

'Sometimes there could be a snap remark, but it was only out of interest and impatience.'  

Buckingham Palace said on Saturday that the duke's funeral would be held on Saturday April 17, with long-established plans redrawn and scaled down because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The prince will be given a ceremonial royal funeral rather than a state funeral. There will be no public processions, and it will be held entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle and limited to 30 mourners.  

John Major, who was British prime minister from 1990 to 1997, said he hoped the queen would be given the time she needs to grieve after she lost her husband and companion of 73 years.

'I do hope she's given a little space, and a little time, and a little freedom to grieve in the way anybody else would wish to do so after having lost their spouse,' he told the BBC's Andrew Marr.

'He was the person who was there,' he said of Philip. 'He was the person to whom she could unburden herself.'

Former archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said: '[Philip] would make an off-colour remark but if somebody challenged him you would enter into an amazing conversation - the trouble was that because he was the Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of the Queen, people had this deference.'

He said the Duke of Edinburgh never wanted 'to be let off' in difficult discussions.

Dr Sentamu, who once described Philip as his 'sparring partner', told The Andrew Marr Show 'there were no conversations that were off limits'.

'Whenever I met him we would get into a conversation - (about) something that he had been thinking about - and then he would also give a very robust reply,' Dr Sentamu said.

He recalled meeting Philip at the conclusion of the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

'I met him at Buckingham Palace and he comes and ask me about how it all was and he said, ''you must have had a very tough time listening to evidence was really was appalling', and then we had a conversation of about three or four minutes,'' Dr Sentamu said.

'There were areas we disagreed about but he loves a very good conversation and he doesn't want you to let him off or for you to be let off.'  

And former Irish president Mary McAleese said Prince Philip travelled to the country in 2011 'on a mission to heal history'.

Belfast-born Mrs McAleese was president of the Republic during the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, the first by a British monarch to the country in 100 years.

'You can understand that security was very high, concerns were high. So he was there, as she has described in the past as her rock, but he was also there as a character in his own right.

'A man who had come on a mission, as she had come, both of them had come on this mission in their own right to try and heal history, to ensure that for the future these two neighbouring islands would be characterised by good neighbourliness.

'He wasn't just there as her company, if you like, her inevitable company, he was also there making a statement.'

She said that although the pair subsequently met, Philip would have been willing to meet former IRA man Martin McGuinness on that visit, had Sinn Fein not objected.

She added: 'He was willing even then to meet people who have been so closely associated with the murder of a man who had meant so much to him, Lord Mountbatten.'

'Sometimes there could be a snap remark, but it was only out of interest and impatience,' Joanna Lumley said of the Duke of Edinburgh

SHARED GRIEF OVER PHILIP 'AN IDEAL OPPORTUNITY' TO MEND ROYAL RIFTS, SAYS JOHN MAJOR 

Shared grief over the death of the Duke of Edinburgh is an 'ideal opportunity' to mend rifts within the royal family, former prime minister Sir John Major has said.

The Duke of Sussex laid bare a rift with members of his family during an interview with Oprah Winfrey last month.

Asked during an appearance on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme if he agreed with Mr Nichols, Sir John said: 'I'm sure he is right, I hope he's right, I believe he is right and I certainly hope so.

'The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible, and a shared emotion, a shared grief, at the present time because of the death of their father, their grandfather, I think is an ideal opportunity.

'I hope very much that it is possible to mend any rifts that may exist.'

Speaking on Times Radio on Saturday, Mr Nichols said 'many a family gather and get over tension and broken relationships at the time of a funeral'.

'Something very profound unites them all again. And that would be true for this family, I'm sure,' he said.

'Obviously the whole ceremony will be watched by everybody, but you think of the complexities of the dynamics in that family and we have to think of Harry, so far away. I'm sure he'll come but not being, the whole time, in the public eye might just help.'

The Duchess of Sussex accused some members of the royal family of racism while speaking to Winfrey during the bombshell broadcast in March, and also said the institution failed to help her when she had suicidal thoughts.

Harry, who has not returned to the UK since stepping down as a senior royal just over a year ago, told the chat show host he felt let down by his father, the Prince of Wales, and wanted to heal the relationship but 'there's a lot of hurt that's happened'.

He described his relationship with the Duke of Cambridge as 'space' but said he loved him and 'time heals all things, hopefully'.

The brothers' rift stretches back to before the Sussexes' wedding, when Harry was reportedly angered by what he perceived as his brother's 'snobbish' attitude to Meghan, after William questioned whether he should rush into things with the ex-actress.

Following the Winfrey interview, the Queen issued a statement saying 'while some recollections may vary', the issues raised would be taken 'very seriously' but dealt with privately as a family.

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