"When he spoke to you, you thought you were the only person who mattered in the world," the staffer said of Prince Philip

By Simon Perry and Stephanie Petit
April 15, 2021 09:00 AM
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prince philip
Prince Philip
| Credit: Matt Dunham/Getty

Even as he approached age 100, Prince Philip remained a magnetic presence.

Former palace spokeswoman Ailsa Anderson tells PEOPLE that many of the Duke of Edinburgh's qualities stayed with him "right to the end."

"Oh gosh, he was charming! He still had a twinkle in his eye right to the end," Anderson says in this week's cover story. "When he spoke to you, you thought you were the only person who mattered in the world. It was like a lighthouse beacon shining onto you, and you feel like the only person he wanted to talk to."

A former senior aide adds that the royal, who died Friday at the age of 99, was also humble and engaging: "He would always ask people what they were reading. He never talked about his life. You had to prompt the stories out of him."

prince philip and queen elizabeth

Even the future Queen wasn't immune to Prince Philip's allure when she met him at just 13. While Elizabeth was reserved and shy, she was smitten by Philip's zest for adventure.

"She fell in love, and she never looked at anyone else," biographer Sally Bedell Smith says in PEOPLE's cover story.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Princess Eugenie recalled her grandfather's universal magnetism in a heartfelt tribute shared to her Instagram page on Wednesday.

"You would be so touched by all the tributes that have been shared with me the past few days," she wrote. "People remember sitting next to you at a dinner, or shaking your hand once, who remember you saying hello in passing, or remember how much their DofE award meant to them."

Prince Philip's funeral will be at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle at 3 p.m. U.K. time (10 a.m. ET) and will be broadcast live.

It will be known as a ceremonial royal funeral and not a state funeral, which are generally reserved for monarchs. The funeral plans take into account the country's COVID guidelines and is "much reduced in scale with no public access," a palace spokesman said.

The funeral will take place entirely within the grounds of the castle and plans have been given final approval by the Queen but they "still very much reflect the personal wishes of the Duke. The occasion will still celebrate and recognize the Duke's life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the U.K. and the Commonwealth."