On Friday, we lost a constant in of all our lives. A man who, like the Queen, has just ‘always been there’. While he was the grand old age of 99, it nevertheless was with a sense of shock and sadness that many of us heard the news of the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing.
The life of Prince Philip was a remarkable one. Born in Greece in 1921 into royalty, his family were banished in 1922 and so as a child he lived in both France and Germany before settling in Great Britain. Prior to World War II, the Duke schooled in Scotland at Gordonstoun, founded by Jewish headmaster Kurt Hahn following the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. During World War II, Philip fought the Nazis by serving in the Royal Navy after excelling at Naval School. In 1946, he proposed to Elizabeth after abandoning his Greek and Danish royal titles, adopted Anglicanism as his religion, and became a British subject. He adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother’s family – and in 1947, married Elizabeth, who in 1952 was crowned Queen on King George’s death. Philip became Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. On advice from Winston Churchill, Elizabeth announced that the monarchy would be know as the ‘House of Windsor’.
For many of us, Prince Philip felt like ‘one of us’. We have all seen the amusing quips and displays of impatience that have circulated again since his death. An absolute character you cannot help but warm to. He was not one to be fully constrained by his title, and had a reputation for ‘saying it like it is’, something common with that generation. It is a sad and damning indictment of our Media that the Press would follow him abroad, not to report on his duty and service to the country, but in the hope of catching him ‘mis-speaking’ or saying something inappropriate. The reality was, the Duke was a completely selfless man, giving his life in service to Queen and Country. He played second fiddle without complaint and did it magnificently.
Though he was happy to take the backseat to the Queen, he worked incredibly hard. As the Queen shook hands, he would follow and put people at ease with his humour and small talk. So many people have stories to tell of how Prince Philip spoke to them and in those few moments make them feel as though they had a personal connection to him. He attended all of the Queen’s 251 overseas visits, and was patron or president of an incredible 814 organisations. The Duke took a keen interest in the welfare of our veterans and was the Grand President of the British Commonwealth ex-Services League, which provides practical welfare assistance. His contribution to charity and causes for the good of the people of this country would be too long to list.
So it is particularly upsetting to see some of the vile comments from mainly left wing media outlets and pundits, who cannot see the incredible amount of good work this man undertook. The countless lives he improved, and help given deserve so much better than the abuse given by the very people who believe they are the tolerant and kind ones. The contrast with Meghan Markle, who the same people laud, could not be more stark.
For Britain celebrates the long and full life of the Duke of Edinburgh. We bid farewell, and give thanks for his service and will do what he would have wanted – raise a glass. Though we will probably make a bit more fuss than he would be comfortable with.
We may never see his like again. Rest in Peace.