Prince Philip’s life was hard, he did his duty and it was a lesson to us all
Death of Prince Philip will be met with ‘ritual wailing’ on island where he’s a ‘god’
UK government website accidentally reveals date of Prince Philip’s funeral
Trump honors Prince Philip for embodying ‘dignity and grace’
How this episode of ‘The Crown’ nailed Prince Philip
Prince Philip was a quintessential Englishman. This was remarkable in itself. Philip was born a Greek of Danish and German extraction in 1921. He became British by a series of accidents but came to stand for the best of the old ways. We were lucky to have him.
It might be hard to believe, but 1921 was not a good year to be born a minor member of a minor royal household. The emperors of Germany, Austria and Turkey had all been cast down from ancient thrones in World War I. The Bolsheviks in Russia had lately murdered Philip’s Romanov cousins.
The Greek royal family wasn’t exactly beloved, either. They were foreign imports, brought in by Britain and France to keep tabs on the modern Greek state. When Philip was born, Greece was at war with Turkey, and Philip’s father Andrew was fighting in the field. The worse the war went, the less popular the royal family became.
When Philip was 18 months old, a revolutionary council banished his family from Greece forever. The prince the English would nickname “Phil the Greek” never learned his mother tongue. And it got tougher from there.
One of Philip’s grandmothers lived at Kensington Palace in London, where William and Kate now live with their children. So the grandest Greek refugees in the world sought sanctuary in England. While Philip passed through a series of schools, his three sisters married German princes and left for Germany. His mother’s mental health broke down. She was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and Philip lost contact with her. He was 11 years old. No one heard him complain.
It got tougher still. In 1937, when Philip was 16, his sister Cecilie and her family were killed in a plane crash. In 1938, his uncle and guardian, Lord Milford Haven, died from cancer.
When war broke out in September 1939, Philip was a cadet in the Royal Navy. One of his first duties was to escort the young Princess Elizabeth when her father, George VI, came to inspect the base. It was love at first sight. They didn’t talk about it directly, but he asked if he might write to her, and she accepted.
Philip graduated at the top of his class. He was at sea for six years, from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. He became the youngest lieutenant in the Navy, won the Greek War Cross and was mentioned in dispatches to London. One night in 1943, he saved his ship and his crew by improvising a plan to distract the German bombers that would have blown them out of the water. He didn’t talk about that, either. He was doing his duty.
Elizabeth and Philip were married in 1947. He became the Duke of Edinburgh, the father of a future king — and he played second fiddle to his wife for the next 73 years. “Divorce? Never,” he replied when asked if he’d ever had second thoughts. “Murder? Often.”
Philip exchanged a life of action — he was tipped to rise to the top of the Navy — for one of service. He supported Elizabeth II through 14 prime ministers and always called her “Ma’am” in public. He carried out 22,000 public engagements before taking “early” retirement at the age of 96. He sometimes bristled against the stuffiness of protocol, but he got on with the job because that was what you did.
And he did his job very well indeed, with the minimum of fuss. It was Philip who recognized that times had changed and brought the cameras into Buckingham Palace. It was Philip who quietly supported Diana, Princess of Wales, when she was alone in the adopted family that he called “The Firm.”
While Meghan and Harry are cashing in as they moan in their mansion about how no one understands them, Philip had it much harder, and he never complained. Philip was written out of the history of Greece; Meghan was written out of “Suits.”
Philip did the right thing because that’s what people did in his day. He did his duty. During this period of mourning, Philip would consider it was his family’s duty to put aside their differences and stop the public airing of their dirty laundry.
Dominic Green is deputy US editor of The Spectator.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article