Princes William and Harry should use the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral to patch up their relationship, Sir John Major said today.
The ex-Premier was appointed the princes’ guardian after their mother Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997, nearly months after he was voted out of No10.
“The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.
“And a shared emotion, a shared grief because of the death of their grandfather, I think is an ideal opportunity.
“I hope very much it is possible to mend any rift that may exist.”
The former prime minister spoke after being asked about comments by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
The Cardinal had 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 – that would be true of this family, I am sure.”
Asked if he agreed, 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 Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on Saturday will be family affair attended by close relatives, with the guest list limited to just 30 because of coronavirus restrictions.
The Queen will lead respects to the man Prince Charles dubbed his “dear Papa” who died on Friday at the age of 99.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be present to allow for as many family members as possible to be there. Ex-PM Sir John said he had “absolutely no idea” if he will be asked to attend.
The duke’s long-standing close aide, his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller Bakewell, will be one of the few non-royals.
The Queen – who will wear a face mask and socially distance – had the difficult task of deciding who should attend the service in honour of her husband of 73 years.
It was originally planned long ago for 800 guests, but had to take into account the strict limit on numbers during the pandemic.
While Harry will make the journey back from the US, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant with her second child, will not.
She will remain in California after she was not given medical clearance by her doctor to travel.
Meghan is due to give birth in the summer and previously suffered a miscarriage.
Sir John, 78, called for other members of the Royal Family to fill the void left by Prince Philip’s death, with the Queen expected to scale back some public engagements.
The ex-PM said “it will be difficult” for the Queen, for whom Prince Philip was one of the few people who could “literally put their arms around you and say ‘it’s not as bad as you think, this is what we have to do, this is how we can do it’.”
“There are no doubt millions of people watching this programme who have lost a partner, a spouse, and it is a very lonely time,” he said.
“The Queen and Prince Philip had 73 years of marriage together – that is extraordinary… It will be an enormous hole in her life that suddenly Prince Philip isn’t there.”
He went on: “Prince Philip may physically have gone, but he will be in the Queen’s mind as clearly as if she was sitting opposite him.
“She will hear his voice metaphorically in her ear. She will know what he will say in certain circumstances.
“He will still be there in her memory. The echo will be there and it always will be.”
Sir John said he hoped the Queen will be given “a little space, a little time and a little freedom” to grieve.
He added: “I think over the next few years for a raft a reasons, not least the Queen’s vulnerable age, you will see Prince Charles and Prince William and other members of the family taking a greater role.
“The burden will be spread a little wider, a little deeper than it has been in the past.”
Sir John said Prince Philip “mischievously” mentioned their shared “outsider” status after he was elected Conservative leader.
And he said the Duke of Edinburgh was “very much involved” in dealing with the Queen’s ‘Annus horribilis’ in 1992.
He said: “There was no doubt about the depth of concern of Prince Philip for what the monarchy was facing, and in particular the Queen.”