The Crown actors Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies pay tribute to Prince Philip

Matt Smith (left) played Prince Philip in the first and second seasons, with Tobias Menzies taking over in the third and fourth seasons of The Crown. PHOTOS: NETFLIX

British actors Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies, who both portrayed Prince Philip on hit Netflix series The Crown, have paid tribute to the duke, who died last Friday (April 9) at age 99.

Smith, 38, who played the role in the first and second seasons from 2016 to 2017, said in a statement: "Prince Philip was the man. And he knew it. 99 and out, but what an innings. And what style."

He added: "Thank you for your service old chap - it won't be the same without you."

The role of Queen Elizabeth II's husband passed on to Menzies in the third and fourth seasons, which aired in 2019 and 2020.

In a tweet after news of Prince Philip's death broke, Menzies, 47, said: "If I know anything about the Duke of Edinburgh, I'm fairly sure he wouldn't want some actor who has portrayed him on television giving their opinion on his life."

He went on to quote the character of Orlando in Shakespeare's As You Like It: "O good old man, how well in thee appears

"The constant service of the antique world..."

The actor, who was nominated for a Golden Globe last year for the role, had spoken to Vanity Fair magazine last November about his impression of the royal figure, calling him an "alpha male" stuck in a "strange, largely ceremonial role where he is second to his wife".

"You can see in him that he chafes at it, doesn't necessarily find it comfortable. He's clearly made a life for himself, takes the role seriously and has done a lot of really interesting work."

Smith, who was nominated for an Emmy award in 2018 for his portrayal of the duke in his younger days, spoke to Variety magazine that year: "I sort of loved Philip and there was a lot that I could identify with: the competitiveness, the sporting nature, the battle, the defiance and the maleness.

"One of the interesting challenges for me was that I felt there was a sort of a misconception and a preconception about him, which reduced him a bit."

Even though the award-winning series was hugely popular, it was also known to bend the truth regarding the fiercely private royal family. A fifth season is due to start filming in July, with British actor Jonathan Pryce taking over the role of the duke.

Smith added: "And actually all the research I did found him to be brilliantly funny, very clever, very popular. In the royal house, he's the most popular of all of them. If you've talked to any of the staff, Philip's the one they all love really. I think more than a lot of them, he's a bit more of a man of the people."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.