Prince Philip, thank you
Earlier this afternoon Buckingham Palace announced that the Duke of Edinburgh has died at the age of 99. In a statement, the Palace noted: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”
Everyone at Leveller® Towers sends their heartfelt condolences to HM The Queen and the Royal Family.
It is almost astonishing to live the whole of one’s life in the reign of just one monarch. But the passing of the Duke of Edinburg, it is a reminder of the sheer longevity of our monarch. Indeed of the monarchy itself. Not just our monarch of course but her consort too. Not that we would wish to suggest longevity is of itself an achievement. But the stability which the Queen and Prince Philip have given the monarchy for just short of 70 years certainly is.
When the Queen ascended the throne with the Prince at her side, she ruled an Empire. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister. Today the Queen remains head of state to some. She is head of the Commonwealth. And the “Empire” that once covered a third of the globe is today a small collection of rocks.
We have entered Europe and left Europe. We have endured one cold war and appear to entering another. We have watched as China emerged from Communism, and then retreated back into it.
We have stood by as our manufacturing base in coal, steel, car making and shipbuilding has been destroyed. And seen new industries such as services, IT, biotec and chip manufacturing take off.
The seismic shifts in our politics and our place in the world have left us exposed. In many ways the monarchy has been the glue that has kept the nation together. As the rock that the Queen leant on in times of tribulation, if for no other reason, we are in debt to Prince Philip. Of course there are many other reasons.
But as the death of Prince Philip reminds us, this reign is coming to an end. And with it a period if not of national crisis certainly national reflection.
It is reminiscent of the uncertainty England faced at the death of Queen Anne. With no natural successor, difficult choices had to be made. How difficult must that time have been. How easy for the state to crumble in indecision or civil war. How easy for foreign powers to take sides and set a course to weaken our country.
One peaceful transfer of power and two attempted counter revolutions later, and our present Queen’s ancestors, the Hanoverians, were established as our rulers. They have enjoyed a three long centuries of relatively peaceful and unchallenged rule.
But what next? One half of the partnership that has led our nation has gone. His wife will know her time is coming to an end. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have managed an impossible job. To keep the ship of state on an even keel without ever getting involved in the grubby business of politics. At least not publicly. To keep Britain admired and respected on the world stage.
Theirs has been an immense partnership. They have brought the monarchy from a place of old world privilege. Brought it into a modern more egalitarian world where old families and connections matter less. But it is a world less respectful of monarchies and old ways. It is a huge tribute to the Queen and Prince Philip that they have continued to command the greatest respect.
It is only with his passing, that the great achievement of Prince Philip will be seen for what it has been. For our part, we wish to acknowledge that achievement and offer our thanks for the life of the Prince and what he has done for our nation.
The challenge the next generation face is: “follow that.” I wonder if that is actually possible.