The Queen may be the head of state, but it was the Duke of Edinburgh who was head of the family and relished his role as the “master of the barbecue”.

Philip’s outdoor culinary skills delighted generations of royal children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as they spent summers in the sanctuary of the Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire.

The royal family
On the lawns at Balmoral, the Queen, Philip and Anne, Charles and baby Andrew (PA)

The Duke of Sussex recalled the treasured times, labelling Philip “master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ‘til the end”.

Harry added: “I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it!'”

The duke was known to avoid drinking wine – but his tipple was an occasional beer or gin.

Philip was famous for his gaffes, his sharp wit and sometimes outrageous comments.

He once told a teenager he was too fat to be an astronaut, asked a sea cadet if she worked at a strip club and even told British students in China during the 1986 state visit: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared as parliament was recalled to pay tribute: “He told a British student in Papua New Guinea that he was lucky not to be eaten, and the people of the Cayman islands that they were descended from pirates, and that he would like to go to Russia except that, as he put it, ‘the bastards murdered half my family’.”

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The duke jokes with the Cambridge University rowing team in 2009 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Johnson said the world did not hold it against the duke and that he was trying “to break the ice, to get things moving, to get people laughing, and to forget their nerves”.

Successive PMs however also remember Philip for cooking up a meat feast during the customary annual visits to Balmoral by the political leader of the time.

Mr Johnson revealed the duke would use a custom-made impressive barbecue designed by Philip himself.

“At family picnics in Balmoral he would barbecue the sausages on a large metal contraption that all Prime Ministers must have goggled at for decades, complete with rotisserie and compartments for the sauces, that was – once again, Mr Speaker –  a product of his own invention and creation,” the PM said.

In the 1969 fly-on-the wall documentary The Royal Family offering the first insight into the domestic life of the Windsors, the Queen and her family were filmed enjoying a picnic at Balmoral, where a kilted Philip tended to sausages on a barbecue.

Royal Highland Gathering
The duke would cook dressed in a kilt (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The monarch would roll up her sleeves, don rubber gloves and see to the washing up.

“You sit there having eaten, the Queen asks if you’ve finished, she stacks the plates up and goes off to the sink,” former prime minister Tony Blair revealed in his memoirs.

Former PM David Cameron said in 2017 when Philip announced his retirement: “We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. I always enjoyed his company, especially his BBQs.”

Duke of Edinburgh death
The Duke of Edinburgh with Prime Minister David Cameron (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Cameron once said there was not much “chillaxing” – chilling out and relaxing – at Balmoral, with the royals spending their time on outdoor pursuits.

Balmoral in the Highlands, one of the royals’ favourite places, held many memories for Philip.

Each summer, the Queen and the duke and various members of their family would head to the private castle on Royal Deeside for some down-time away from busy public life in London.

Even the coronavirus pandemic did not stop the couple’s annual retreat to Scotland, with the monarch and the duke managing to leave Windsor Castle in August 2020 to make the annual pilgrimage after months in lockdown.

The Queen was once said to never be happier than when she was at Balmoral, where the family enjoyed riding, fishing or walking.