I never met him but was certainly sad to learn of his passing; unfortunately, by the end of last Friday, I wondered what on earth had become of my country. From just after noon, the news media and radio stations did exactly what was required of them; normal programming stopped; announcers dressed in black to deliver solemn news.
HRH Prince Philip was not just the Queen’s husband, he was Britain’s longest-serving consort ever. A truly great man who lead an astonishing life of public service. A decorated war hero, Philip supported our wonderful Queen throughout her reign. Just try and think of anyone else who’s contributed even a fraction of what he did to public life; their combined service is a remarkable achievement.
It’s said the purpose of life is a life of purpose, and what a purpose they had. When Princess Elizabeth unexpectedly became Queen, it must have seemed a daunting task to such a young couple? A navy man, still in his 20s, Philip already knew what duty was, and for 70 years he remained resolute, by her side, interested, supportive, intelligent, and yes, witty.
The Royal family exists to congratulate and inspire us; they’re an extension of the government’s diplomatic service too, meeting and greeting whoever the foreign office needs to impress. They’re tasked with entertaining anyone needing the red-carpet treatment, even if that’s some ghastly old waxworks. At times of great national difficulty, with Philip by her side, our incredible Queen has been a constant, offering wise counsel to every Prime Minister since Churchill. Throughout my lifetime, the two of them have been the nation’s figureheads, doing their duty with a smile.
True, over the years, occasionally I heard a little republican sentiment, and understood the argument. If the monarchy didn’t already exist, few of us would allow it to be created. But it does exist and, without a shadow of doubt, it exists for the common good. In any case, what could possibly replace it that might in any way improve the British way of life? The Royals are not just pomp and ceremony, uniforms, and privilege; they represent the best of us, our hopes and dreams, our history as well as our nation’s relationship with the world.
Fifty years ago, long before most of us knew what environmentalism was, Prince Philip spoke about the need to protect the planet we live on. His Duke of Edinburgh scheme still inspires young people around the globe, for that alone he deserves our respect.
His passing last Friday left me feeling cross because so many mean-spirited people made a terrible fuss about their TV viewing being disrupted. Shamefully, 111,000 people complained to the BBC, whining that their radio station was playing solemn reflective music instead of its usual cacophony. Lobotomised licence payers carped about the Great British Bake-off being postponed, or cried because EastEnders was rescheduled, and yikes – Bargain Hunt too!
So many people of our once great nation seem to be TV dependent, unable to tolerate tributes on the day one of our most important Royals died. On Twitter, it was even worse; some responses to Nicola Sturgeon’s statesmanlike Scottish condolence message were utterly hateful. Our country is in court mourning. If that’s too much for you, why not make other arrangements – perhaps try the iPlayer?
Her Majesty, who could understandably make Prince Philip’s funeral an exception, is allowing just 30 people to attend, which, as ever, is a perfect example of her impeccable judgement and solidarity with her people – even the idiots.