After leaving university, Edward had joined the Royal Marines, who had paid £12,000 towards his tuition at Cambridge University on condition that he served five years. However, he dropped out of the gruelling commando course after completing just one third of the 12-month training. Philip, who was Captain General Royal Marines at the time, served in the Armed Forces himself and was known to be a tough father, was allegedly not best pleased.
He was reportedly furious, because he thought Edward was letting the family down by failing to complete his military training.
One media report read: “More than a third of Lympstone’s recruits do not wash out of the elite fighting force, usually because of injury sustained during the punching drills, and nearly all recruits think of leaving at some point.
“But for Queen Elizabeth’s youngest, resigning would be personally and publicly far graver.
“His father, the handsome Honorary Captain General whose face now stared down from a nearby wall, had reportedly reacted to the possibility with such anger that he had reduced his son to prolonged tears.
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Prince Edward was brought to tears by his father’s anger according to reports
Prince Edward in his Royal Marines uniform
“His Royal Highness Prince Edward was letting down the side: By resigning, he would become the first member of Britain’s Royal Family in memory to quit military training.”
The Queen and the younger royals had reportedly defended Edward’s right to choose for himself and Sarah, Duchess of York allegedly even called her father-in-law a “tyrant”.
However, this report in People magazine in January 1987 was contradicted by other reports.
In the 2017 book ‘My Husband and I: The Inside Story of 70 Years of the Royal Marriage’, author Ingrid Seward claimed that Philip was actually the most sympathetic family member towards his son’s decision.
Prince Edward and his father Prince Philip in 1984
Suspicions were first raised when Edward did not return to training after the Christmas break, officially because of the flu.
A top-ranking Marine officer visited him at Buckingham Palace and urged him to go back to Lympstone to undergo “counseling” which was given to every recruit considering dropping out.
On the day Edward went in for this meeting, the press got wind that he was dropping out.
Two days later, Buckingham Palace said Edward’s decision would be made public within 72 hours.
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The Royal Marines had contributed to Edward’s university tuition
Finally, the Palace issued a statement, saying: “His Royal Highness Prince Edward has decided to resign from the Royal Marines with great regret.”
After the decision was made, Prince Philip was reportedly “so angry he and Edward are said to be barely speaking”.
Some Palace insiders allegedly drew parallels between Edward and his great uncle King Edward VIII who put personal happiness before royal duty in abdicating the throne.
Edward was mocked by some parts of the press ‒ he was called a “weeping wimp” by the New York Post ‒ while others were more sympathetic, the Sunday Times commenting that he was simply “a square peg in a round hole”.
However, a poll of the British public found that 80 percent approved of his decision and 70 percent felt Philip should have supported him.
It also emerged that, far from wimping out during training, Edward had actually met the requirements of training and during his 14 weeks soldiered on through a twisted ankle, a black eye, a bloody nose and a damaged knee.
His base commander, Colonel Ian Moore, reportedly said he “had all the physical ability to complete his training satisfactorily, indeed well”.
What had actually made him quit was he simply did not like it.
Edward’s friend, model Romy Adlington,went to Buckingham Palace to see him after he was given a hard time in the aftermath of his quitting the Marines.
The next day she told the press: “Edward has been through a terrible ordeal and has no one to speak for him.
“As one of his closest friends, I want the public to know he is a normal human being who has to make an important decision.
“He doesn’t have the same responsibility as his brothers, yet he still can’t go off and do what he wants.
“He has often asked me: ‘What’s it like to go for a walk alone in the park? How does it feel to be able to walk into a shop without everyone staring at you?’
“That’s all he wants to be able to do.”