The Queen and Prince Philp had four children together, Prince Charles, 72, Princess Anne, 70, Prince Andrew, 61, and Prince Edward, 57.
For years there has been mounting speculation over which of the four is the Queen’s favourite, and royal biographer Matthew Dennison appears to have laid the matter to rest in his new book, The Queen.
In the lengthy biography of the monarch, Mr Dennison claims Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest child, has always been the family favourite.
He wrote: “Prince Edward, seemingly a bit wet and a tad irritating to the rest of us, was always his parents’ favourite.
“That became apparent in 1987 when Edward, aged 22, opted out of the Royal Marines when he was just a third of the way through his 12-month basic training course.
“To the surprise of some, Prince Philip (Captain-General of the Royal Marines) did not come down on his son like a ton of bricks.
“He accepted that the Marines ‘wasn’t right for Edward’ – and to this day Edward is grateful for that.”
Royal expert Ingrid Seward also claimed the Duke of Edinburgh was very understanding about Edward’s decision to quit the Marines.
Writing in the Daily Mail, she said: “Given his action-man image and his well-earned reputation for irascibility, many people assumed he was outraged.
“Stories soon spread that harsh words had been exchanged between father and son; even that Edward had been reduced to tears by his father’s anger.”
But she said: “The truth was quite the opposite: of all the Royal Family, Philip was in fact the most sympathetic.
“He understood his son’s decision, which he considered a brave one, and supported him fully.”
A week after his resignation, Edward and his father were photographed walking side by side to church at Sandringham, in a significant public gesture of support.
The claim that Edward is in fact the favourite child comes in contrast to frequent reports that Prince Andrew is the Queen’s most treasured son.
While the Queen has never actually publicly favoured Andrew, historians and royal commentators have believed this has been the case for a long time.
Writing in The Telegraph, Camilla Tominey, commented: “Andrew was straightforward and the more glass-half-full of the pair.
“Although he could be a bit of a handful, the Queen enjoyed the company of the easy-going son who could make her laugh and raise the family’s spirits.”
Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, has also claimed the Queen cared most fondly for Andrew.
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