As we all must know by now, Prince Philip died at the end of last week. This is a solemn time for the nation as we mourn the death of our monarch’s husband. There are many who question the place and value of our monarchy in our “modern” parliamentary democracy and for some that has tipped into ugly scenes with them taking the opportunity to ‘celebrate’ the death of a member of the royal family and make cheap and inaccurate political points about the royals. Those that take that step misread the public mood and do themselves a great disservice – not to mention the disrespect for Prince Philip’s service to the nation.
Prince Philip lived an incredible life full of value and merit. When he was smuggled out of Greece in a fruit box, I very much doubt that anyone would have imagined the future that lay ahead. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy that is worth commemorating and worthy of our respect as citizens of this country.
Since his start as a working royal in 1952, the Duke of Edinburgh carried out 22,210 solo engagements and 5,493 speeches. That comes to an engagement almost every other day. This is an incredible amount of time and value that he has put into representing the royal family and only represents those events that he participated in by himself. We may not be able to fully recognise what it means to be a working royal but that level of commitment – as the longest-serving consort of a British monarch – ought to be recognised and respected.
We must also appreciate the work that the Duke undertook in the charity sector. He has supported many causes over the years from domestic work with the Royal National Institute for the Deaf to international work with the Worldwide Wildlife Fund. His support and patronage of so many charitable endeavours has been invaluable for so many people over the years.
He also set up the Duke of Edinburgh award with his former teacher Kurt Hahn. The Award has been a remarkable success and many people up and down the country have fond memories of participating in the scheme – either on the long walks with friends or in their volunteering in their local communities. Over 6 million young people in the UK have taken part in the DofE in the UK since 1956 – a fantastic triumph.
We must not forget that Prince Philip also served with distinction in the Armed Forces, seeing combat in WWII as part of the Royal Navy. He fought against the forces of fascism and put his life on the line for the country. Despite his occasional moment of “Dontopedalogy” – the Duke of Edinburgh’s life of service to Queen and country deserves our respect and admiration – we have lost a great icon of modern Britain. However, this will represent a personal sadness for the royals – who, much like all of us, are a family who has just lost a grandfather, father and husband.