What the Future Looks Like for the Royal Family After Prince Philip's Funeral

Royal expert and author Sally Bedell Smith tells E! News what she believes the future holds for the royal family following Prince Philip's passing.

By Amanda Williams, Alyssa Morin Apr 17, 2021 11:32 PMTags
Watch: Prince Philip's Family Honor Him With Intimate Funeral

Prince Philip has been laid to rest.

The royal, who passed away at the age of 99 on April 9, was honored with a special funeral at St. George's Chapel on Saturday, April 17.

During the intimate ceremony—which included only 30 members of the royal family in attendanceQueen Elizabeth II penned one final goodbye to her husband of 73 years. The queen placed a handwritten letter on top of the late royal's coffin, which read in part, "I love you." A beautiful bouquet of flowers were displayed alongside the heartfelt note.

Along with Her Majesty, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as well as Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry, celebrated the life and legacy of Prince Philip.

Royal expert and author Sally Bedell Smith opens up to E! News about what the future holds for the queen and the British royal family following Prince Philip's passing.

Prince Philip's Life Remembered During Funeral

What's next for Queen Elizabeth II as she navigates life without Prince Philip?

"We've become accustomed, since 2017, to seeing her on her own or with other children and grandchildren," Sally points out. "And so, without him at her side, it's not that unusual. But that doesn't take anything away from the fact that this is going to be a big blow for her. She's been with him for 73 years, and...as she said, [he's been] her 'strength and her stay' for 73 years."

She adds, "We're going to see her moving along, doing her duty. She's not going to be like Queen Victoria, and retreat from public view. She'll be out, and she'll do whatever is required of her."

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Who will Queen Elizabeth II lean on the most for support?

"I think she's much closer to Prince Charles than she used to be," Sally shares. "They've had their ups and downs over the years, but I think she does rely on him a lot. She is really close to all of her children...even Prince Andrew. She's close to Princess Anne. So she has children who are ready and willing to support her. She has her dresser, Angela Kelly, who is sort of her personal assistant and her confidant, and she has her page and the various people working with her for many years. She has a very supportive system of people around her."

The Diana in Search of Herself author adds that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will also be in her corner, saying, "she's obviously very fond of them." Although, Sally is unsure about Prince Harry, explaining, "We don't know how much she has been in touch with him or whether she's tried to give him guidance."

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In what ways has Prince Philip's passing changed the family dynamic?

Sally puts things into perspective, sharing, "She is the queen. And from the very beginning, she made him the head of the family, and he made a lot of the decisions about what various members of the family did. And they would go to him for advice and guidance. I think that will be a real loss. They relied on him, he was sort of glue for the family."

Furthermore, the royal expert believes his death has brought the family closer. Put simply, "I think you can see in all the statements that they made."

If anything, the 72-year-old historian thinks Prince William and Kate "want to repair" their relationship with Prince Harry. However, she says, "It may not be the right moment for the repair to take place because everybody is focusing on the queen."

"There may not be enough time," she adds, "and this is the kind of thing that's going to require time to mend. When you have a family rupture like that, nobody's going to wave a wand and say, 'We're all going to get together.' They need to better understand each other and I think that's still there's work to be done."

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What made Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's relationship so special?

"They just had a perfect synchronicity about them," Sally describes. "He knew exactly what he was expected to do when he was with her. He never put a foot wrong, he was always where he was supposed to be. He never did anything to outshine her. I think they were extremely compatible from the very beginning, even though they were very different in terms of their personalities."

As she notes, "She's much more reserved, he is more outgoing. He had more of a sense of adventure, or he wanted to move fast and he was modern in his outlook, but it was important because he pushed her...She appreciated that from the very beginning."

"The queen, the more she got to know him, the more she realized that he would be a perfect partner for her," Sally continues, "that he could devote himself to her when she needed his support, that he would have an agile and intelligent and analytical mind...The other really, really important thing is, besides them being incredibly committed to duty and service, is that they had this shared sense of humor."

"He really made her laugh, and as the person who has the kind of responsibilities that she has, I think it was hugely important," Sally explains. "She's very funny, too. So, the humor, a lot of people have said the humor bound them. And there's another thing that people have not commented on very much, but the queen and Prince Philip both had a very deep and quiet private Christian faith. That was very important to them. It was not something they paraded, but it was something they both felt."

Although they lived separately following Prince Philip's retirement, Sally points out that they were in constant communication and saw each other a "fair amount." She notes they spent a lot of time together during lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"He lived a very independent life up there," she shares, "which is what he wanted to do and what she was eager for him to do. But he was a presence, the life of the family, he was there for her."

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.