I was affected by Prince Philip’s death more than I was expecting to be. I’ve never met him, of course, but he has been a prominent figure in public life my entire life. Insofar as it is socially acceptable to have a favourite member of the royal family, Prince Philip was mine. I liked him for his sense of humour, his earthiness, his lack of pretension and his impatience with fuss and pomposity, the way he couldn’t give a toss about what was said about him, and the way he personified a certain kind of rakish English aristocrat of a former age (he was, of course, exiled Greco-Danish royalty, not English at all). Philip was an easy man to be fond of, as many were.
I suppose Prince Philip’s death affected me as much as it did because he was, in a way, family. For those of us for whose countries the royal family is our royal family, they are constant and familiar figures in our public life. For virtually all of us, the Queen and Prince Philip have been a presence, albeit distant, in our lives for our entire lives. We share in their family celebrations, as well as their tragedies and embarrassments. We know them like we know our own extended family. So, when one of them, one as familiar and beloved as Prince Philip, dies, we feel we have lost someone of our own.
At least, that’s how I feel. I appreciate not all of us in countries where the Queen still reigns will feel this way about the royal family, but many of us do. I would compare it to the way Catholics would feel when the Pope dies, but I think I should reserve that analogy for the death of the monarch. You get the idea, though.
I think Prince Philip’s death also affected me personally because it has highlighted the reality of death as a permanent end. A person was there one day, as he had been every day for 99 years, but then not there the next. And he is never coming back. That’s a really heavy thing to digest. Prince Philip is not the first public figure to die in my lifetime, but, being a prominent royal and therefore for all the reasons above, he is the first whose death has affected me in this way.
Prince Philip was a magnificent man and servant of the people. Again, I’ve never met him (though dearly wished I had), but by the stories that are being shared by those that have, he seems to have delighted and touched nearly everyone he met. He appreciated what a special thing it was to meet royalty, and made sure he left people with a memory to cherish.
He gave his life to serving his adopted country, the Commonwealth, and his wife, the Queen, in addition to the many causes and initiatives he patronised and founded. It is difficult for we ordinary people to comprehend the enormity of his service over a long and eventful life.
We have lost one of the greatest men of our times, and the world is a lesser place without him. Vale.