Peter Phillips: the constant and supportive cousin who's a 'sounding board' for Prince William

Peter Phillips and Prince William composite
Peter Phillips and Prince William composite (Getty)

The Prince of Walesreturned to duty this week following his children's month-long Easter school holidays.

While William is expected to maintain a reduced schedule – juggling his royal engagements and public appearances with parenting and caring for his wife the Princess of Wales as she continues her preventative cancer treatment – it's no doubt the future King has the weight of the world on his shoulders.

He is being supported by his family, with King Charles notably giving him the green light to take a step back from royal duties. But one relative who will, and always has been, there for William is his cousin, Peter Phillips.

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Peter was the subject of headlines earlier this month when his split from Lindsay Steven came to light. He has been dubbed the unluckiest royal in love, particularly following the breakdown of his marriage from ex-wife Autumn Phillips in 2019, with whom he shares two daughters Savannah, 13, and Isla, 12.

William and Peter Phillips at Queen Mother's 100th birthday celebrations
Peter and William have always had a close cousinly bond since their younger years (Getty)

Peter a 'sounding board' for cousin William

But his love life aside – more on that later – Peter, 46, is very much loved by the royal family. From a young age, he clearly forged a strong bond with his cousin William, five years his junior, and has gone on to enjoy a similarly close relationship with his cousin-in-law Princess Kate.

"I think he has great respect and admiration for William, who does have that pressure, and in future, Peter will be a great support to him – both as a cousin and as someone who has been there all his life and understands the institution," HELLO!'s Royal Editor, Emily Nash, said.

"Like the rest of the family, I'm sure Peter is lending his support to William and Kate as they face her cancer treatment."

Zara Phillips, Peter Phillips And Prince Harry Playing On A Fire Engine At Sandringham, 1988
"Peter was the eldest of his generation and has naturally taken on a protective role," said HELLO!'s Royal Editor, Emily Nash (Getty)

Emily noted: "Peter was the eldest of his generation and has naturally taken on a protective role. He is uniquely placed in that he understands how the royal family and the institution works, but he doesn't have the titles and responsibilities himself.

"He has a pragmatic, common sense approach to things and can be a trusted sounding board for the future King."

His admiration and respect for William and Kate

Princess Anne's son clearly has admiration for the Waleses. In an interview earlier this year with Sky News Australia, he said of Kate: "She's remarkable in herself… Her and William make a fantastic team together."

Peter Phillips laughing with the Princess of Wales at charity polo match
He's called his cousin-in-law Kate "remarkable" (Getty)

Peter also went on to say that the couple had struck the right balance: "Their kids are great and they have the balance of public life and trying to be parents to three young children, which is always difficult. They've got it pretty right because I think, as history has taught us and anyone knows, that actually you want to be there for your children."

Growing up with cousin William

A constant throughout William's life, Peter has always been there for his younger cousin. As children, there was "quite a gang of us growing up", he previously told Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway on Good Morning Britain.

"It was a lot of fun," Peter said. "We caused quite a bit of mayhem and chaos, but fortunately I don't think we broke too much!"

woman walking to church with two young boys
Peter said it was "a lot of fun" growing up with his royal cousins (Getty Images)

Looking back at archival photos, it's clear to see the cousins' close bond, whether they were marvelling at the RAF flypast during Trooping the Colour, or walking hand-in-hand to the Easter church service.

Aged 19, Peter was crucially there at Balmoral to comfort William and his younger brother Prince Harry when their mother Diana, Princess of Wales was tragically killed in a car accident. He accompanied the brothers hiking in the fresh air in the expansive Scottish estate.

Much was also made of Peter's position in the line of procession at Prince Philip's funeral, when he stood in between the estranged brothers behind their grandfather's coffin, almost acting like a peacekeeper.

Peter Phillips stands between Prince William and Prince Harry during the funeral procession for their grandfather Prince Philip in Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021
Peter stood between estranged brothers Prince William and Prince Harry during the funeral procession for their grandfather Prince Philip in 2021 (Getty)

Peter is said to have been the favourite grandson of the late Duke of Edinburgh, who nicknamed him "the winner" for his sense of easiness, his dependability, his politeness, and his ability to remain calm and collected.

He was the first of the late Queen and Prince Philip's grandchildren to marry, and the first to give the couple a great-grandchild with the birth of his daughter Savannah in 2010.

Sadly, he also followed in the footsteps of his mother Princess Anne and his uncles King Charles and Prince Andrew as the first of his generation to divorce.

Princess Anne's son alongside the late Queen and his cousin Prince William
Peter was said to be the late Queen's "favourite" grandson (Getty)

His split from Lindsay Steven

Earlier this month, a source confirmed to HELLO! that Peter and his girlfriend Lindsay had split after four years together. A friend of the couple said they were "spending less time together with work and family commitments".

The source said: "Peter's business commitments and work in F1 meant he has been away and travelling non-stop.

"It obviously came as a shock as most people thought they were absolutely rock solid, it's very sad. Peter has been travelling all over the world and has been incredibly busy and Lindsay is based up in Scotland, so it's been hard for them to see each other."

Lindsay Wallace laughs as she wears white and joins Peter Phillips at Royal Ascot
The couple enjoyed four years together

His roles as head of partner acquisition for the rights agency CSM Sport & Entertainment and as an ambassador for ISPS Handa have seen him travelling all over the world in recent months. He was in Bahrain for the F1 Grand Prix in March and in Australia the same month.

Peter and Lindsay, who was a schoolfriend of Zara from the £45,000-per-year Scottish boarding school Gordonstoun that they all attended, reconnected in 2019 at a school reunion.

At the time, Peter's marriage to Autumn was on the rocks, and it was later confirmed that they had separated that year.

Peter's past loves

Peter, who graduated from the University of Exeter with a degree in sports science, was head boy at his boarding school.

During his younger years, he was linked to Penny Taylor, the daughter of an army officer, and Emily Ayre, a businessman's daughter.

He dated the American heiress Elizabeth Lorio for two years after graduating from the University of Exeter. They lived together in 2001 in North London for around eight months, with the daughter of the Massachusetts cod liver oil tycoon reportedly saying their split "was a question of immaturity".

Not long after, Peter, aged 25 at the time, began a relationship with British Airways air stewardess Tara Swain, 29. It wasn't a match, however, with the couple separating after just four months together.

It was on a business trip at the 2003 Montreal Grand Prix that he met Autumn, who was working as a Budweiser promo girl. The pair got chatting, with Canadian Autumn unaware that Peter was the late Queen's grandson.

She moved to London and four years later, they were engaged. They went on to marry in May 2008 at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.