Prince Philip made the royal family more than ceremonialTuesday, April 13, 2021
Jamaicans who regard themselves as pro-royalty would likely be mourning the passing, last Friday, of 99-year-old Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, devoted husband and companion of Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years.
Prince Philip was the man who would not become king, and he was widely regarded as the perfect consort.
No easy task, he pulled it off with a grace and dignity, which required enormous discipline while retaining his own style.
This was reflected on the occasions when he represented The Queen, especially on overseas travel, particularly in the Commonwealth countries, including Jamaica, which he visited several times to overwhelming reception.
From minor royal Danish/Greek heritage, he was born in Greece, but his family was exiled from the country when he was 18 months old. He joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, after being educated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. He was introduced and chaperoned into the social circle of the royal family by Lord Mountbatten, the influential éminence grise.
Love for the then Princess Elizabeth, his distant cousin, led him to leave his very promising naval career for marriage to her, following which he has rendered distinguished service to The Queen, the royal family, the British people, and those of the Commonwealth.
He maintained a punishing schedule of public appearances both with and without The Queen, but did not lose his personality and identity. The respect and affection which are so widely felt for him were not garnered as reflections of The Queen's popularity, but in his own right.
The duke's support for The Queen was constant, certainly in public, and his cogent advice was always available discreetly to Her Majesty.
In spite of the considerable pressure of numerous and onerous official duties, he found time to be an engaged family man with his children and grandchildren — though he was never able to find the right interaction with his eldest son, Charles, and later with Princess Diana.
In many respects, he was as British they come, evident in his views of the importance of tradition, the observance of pr oper public protocol, the preservation of aspects of aristocratic rural life, notably fox hunting, bird shooting, playing polo, and protection of the natural environment.
He pursued his physically taxing activities well into his mature years, but found time to lead the implementation and modernisation of the operations of Buckingham Palace.
An important part of his legacy will be the Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme, which was launched in 1958 and became the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award in 1988, touching the lives of young people in 144 countries of the world.
Prince Philip set an example of service for them and a model of internationalism. In so doing, he made the royal family more than cloistered and ceremonial. He made it relevant in a tangible way.
We join Jamaicans and people across the world in extending condolence to the royal family and to the British people.
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