Two British actors who played Prince Philip in different periods of his life in the Netflix hit “The Crown” have paid tribute to the duke following his death at 99 on Friday.
Tobias Menzies, 47, portrayed the complicated and occasionally prickly Duke of Edinburgh in seasons three and four of “The Crown.” The show depicts the trauma Philip faced as a younger man, like his mother’s mental illness and his sister’s death in a plane crash, as well as his relationship in middle age with Queen Elizabeth II, played by Olivia Colman.
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“If I know anything about the Duke of Edinburgh, I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t want an actor who has portrayed him on television giving their opinion on his life, so I’ll leave it to Shakespeare,” Menzies said in a statement to TODAY. “O good old man! How well in thee appears. The constant service of the antique world…
“Rest in peace.”
Matt Smith, 38, who portrayed Philip in the first two seasons of the show and was nominated for an Emmy Award for the role in 2018, also paid tribute to the duke on Friday.
“I’d like to offer my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family,” Smith said in a statement to TODAY. “Prince Philip was the man. And he knew it. 99 and out, but what an innings. And what style. Thank you for your service old chap – it won’t be the same without you.”
Menzies spoke to Vanity Fair last year about playing the longest-serving consort in British history as a middle-aged man.
“I think he is a pretty complex person,” Menzies said. “Even though he doesn’t give a lot away in interviews, just atmospherically, you get quite a lot from him. Emotionally, he seems hot to me. There’s always an element of frustration and irritability, and suppressed emotion, it seemed to me. I’m sure all of these, he would pooh-pooh and deny.
“But seeing this sort of alpha male, clearly someone who likes to be busy and to influence things, be in this strange, largely ceremonial role where he is second to his wife—and really does not have a huge amount to actually do every day. You can see in him that he chafes at it, doesn’t necessarily find it comfortable.”
While Philip played it close to the vest in public, he was reportedly known for crass jokes and bluster behind the scenes.
“On the flip side, he’s funny,” Menzies said. “A lot of that comes out in both irritability, but also quips and jokes—some of them not great, famously kind of off-color. But I feel like they’re all expressions of a desire to slightly poke at the structure of things, punch holes in it, just sort of rattle it up a bit.”
Philip showed a small glimpse of his affability in a 1969 interview with Barbara Walters on TODAY.
“There’s an awful lot of things where if I was to read them now, I’d say, ‘Good God, I wish to God I hadn’t said that,'” he joked.
He also spoke to the discomfort of his ceremonial role that Menzies referenced.
“Inevitably it’s an awkward situation to be in,” he said.
Menzies’ remembrance is one of many tributes — from British politicians and world leaders to celebrities — that have poured in for Prince Philip on Friday.