It's a hell of a week to be a professional Prince Philip lookalike
The Duke's double
As the nation mourns the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, spare a thought for the one person who is reminded of his absence every single time he looks in the mirror - his Royal lookalike. That's right, it can't be fun being the dearly departed Duke's doppelgänger right now, with your future lookalikey prospects up in the air. We caught up with the nation's foremost faux Philip - Mervyn Cooper - to find out...
Hello Mervyn! Hope you're well?
Why thank you JOE. I'm very well thanks.
How long have you been a Prince Philip lookalike?
Ooh. How long? I should think around ten years now.
Crikey. And how did it all come about?
I'd regularly get people saying I look like him. Even when we were on holiday, people would mention it. So eventually my wife took matters into her own hands and sent a photo to Susan [of Susan Scott Lookalikes]. That's how it all started.
Now it doesn't take a genius to work out you're a relatively young chap compared to the Duke of Edinburgh...
Well yes that's true. Prince Philip was 99 when he died, and I'm only 83. Certain jobs do require some makeup but not all the time.
Where were you when you found out Prince Philip had died?
I found out on my phone. It just came up on my phone that he had died. It was obviously sad news. Very sad.
Without meaning to be indelicate, how do you think it will affect you as a lookalike? Is it the end of the road, Mervyn?
Well it's hard to say. It's obviously not good news, but just because somebody dies it doesn't mean to say it's over. I mean, just look at Marilyn Monroe - she's been dead a long time and yet there's still Marilyn Monroe lookalikes aren't there? Time will tell I suppose...
It's a strange time to be a Prince Philip lookalike just now. You must get a few spooked glances as you walk down the street, looking healthy and well...
It's already happened in the short time since he passed away! One or two people have already said something to that effect.
Do you have a Queen you tend to work with? Or is there a number of Queens? A gaggle of Queens? I'm not sure of the plural...
I generally work with the same one. I've worked with two different Queens in my time, but recently just the one. She's part of the same agency - her name's Jeannette.
Poor Jeannette. I guess she'll be flying solo from now on.
More than before, yes.
Do you ever work as a whole Royal family of lookalikes? All the gang together?
Yes we have done jobs with a good few of us present. We've had William and Kate there, and Meghan and Harry. And Jeannette of course.
Of course. And have things gotten a little frosty recently between yourself and Jeanette, and Meghan and Harry?
No they're fine. Absolutely fine. We did a Christmas advert around a year ago for Asda, where we all sat at the dinner table together. It was fine.
Still, I suppose you have to stay in character and behave in a certain way towards each other?
Yes quite. You're often told what to say and how to behave. And it's important to stay in character. There are certain things you can say and certain things you can't.
Can you do the voice?
I do try to talk a little bit more like him yes.
Have you ever worked with a Diana lookalike?
There are Princess Di lookalikes - but I've never worked with one. You do still get them. Although I'm not sure Philip and Diana together would make much sense...
Well yes, I see what you mean. Are there other Prince Philip's knocking about? Rivals for your patch?
There was one I think, but I've not bumped into him. I've never met the other one. There would be no reason to really - a lot of the time, it's just me and Janette.
I can't imagine the pandemic has been much fun for the lookalike industry...
It's not been great. We haven't done any work over the last year as you can imagine. Hopefully things will pick up with lockdown ending.
Prince Philip was obviously known for his controversial statements and what would kindly be described as 'gaffs'. As his lookalike, have you ever cringed at something he has said?
Occasionally yes! But that was just him. If he had something on his mind he'd just say it, didn't he? He didn't hold back. I mean, it wasn't long ago he was having his photo taken and he said "Just take the effing picture!" He didn't mess about.
True. I wonder what he'd make of you as his lookalike...
Well I mean I have met him...
Yes I've met him, at Buckingham Palace.
How, what and when?
I was in the Grenadier Guards, and there was a ceremonial duty at the Palace. I think it was 1960. I didn't speak to him but he came past, for an inspection.
Mervyn! Did you look like him back then?
I did a bit yes, but I started to look more like him as I got older.
Would you describe yourself as a Royalist?
Yes I would really, yes. I mean I don't go over the top, but I am a Royalist yes.
Now that Prince Philip is no longer with us, have you considered pivoting to another celebrity? Sean Connery perhaps?
Well funnily enough, when I was younger, believe it or not, I used to look like Roger Moore!
I see it Mervyn.
But as I got older, I started to look more and more like the Duke!
That makes perfect sense. Well you're a credit to both Prince Philip and the lookalike industry as a whole. It was a pleasure Your Royal Highness...
Thank you JOE! The pleasure was mine.