Obituary: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021

Nathan Fairley

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021)

It is difficult to give the credit which the Duke of Edinburgh’s life of service deserves in just one article. As HM the Queen once said; “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”

Although officially a Prince of Greece and Denmark, the Duke was not born into a privileged lifestyle, nor a stable family upbringing. After moving to France and then Germany, Philip eventually arrived in the UK, where his uncle, Louis Mountbatten took care of him.

Philip was one of the last living veterans of World War II, serving in the Royal Navy and playing a key role in the 1942 Allied Invasion of Sicily. His bravery, along with the many other allied soldiers who fought for our freedoms, should not be forgotten.

The Duke had many interests which he applied himself to after becoming consort in 1952. He created the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, inspiring many young people around the world to find a sense of purpose and duty to their community.

Prince Philip was also interested in conservation, becoming President of the World Wide Fund for Nature. Ahead of his time when it came to conservation, he can be accredited with popularising a religious obligation to conserve our planet. Philip’s interested also extended to sport. Taking up carriage driving in his 50s, the Duke popularised the sport.

The Duke’s sense of duty to the public, his wife, HM Queen Elizabeth II, and his family should not be forgotten. In his time of public service, he supported over 800 charities and made over 5,000 speeches.

Duty Done: Members of the Armed Forces, from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force render the Royal salute to Prince Philip’s coffin as it is carried, from within the grounds of Windsor Castle, by pallbearers from The Grenadier Guards and latterly by The Royal Marines, of which Prince Philip had been Captain-General for over 64 years. The Land Rover Defender on which the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin was carried to the Chapel was specially designed by him in 2003. British Broadcasting Corportation/Getty

The Duke is now gone but the legacy he leaves behind is tremendous

The Duke was always at the Queen’s side, becoming the longest serving Royal Consort in British history in 2009. The Queen and the Duke’s 73-year marriage is a truly remarkable achievement. Of course, it did not come without its difficulties. A young Princess Elizabeth had to put up a fight against the establishment to marry Prince Philip, whom she kept a photo of at her bedside whilst he served the UK in World War II.

The Duke also played an instrumental role in modernising the monarchy, ensuring it still remains vital to British life today. Having a strong sense of family duty, he acted as a mediator between Diana and Charles and convinced the young princes, William and Harry, to walk behind their mother’s coffin in 1997.

Prince Philip’s children described him as an encourager and adviser. He passed on many of his interests and hobbies to them; the Princess Royal took on his equestrian interests, and the Prince of Wales became interested in conversation and painting.

Although initially Greek Orthodox, Philip became Protestant after moving to Germany. Dr John Sentamu, former Archbishop of York, described the Duke as a ‘good Christian man’ who regularly prayed and attended church. Accrediting both the Duke’s and the Queen’s ‘deeply rooted Christian faith’ as the reason for their long-lasting marriage.

Sadly, the Duke is now gone but the 99-year legacy he leaves behind is tremendous. “God Save The Queen!”

Editorial Note

Peter Donnelly, Editor

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest within Windsor Castle on a bright Spring Saturday, April 17th, that will live long in the minds of the public of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and all those who value dedication to public service and public life. No man demonstrated such strong credentials, than Prince Philip. Much has been written about his magnificent legacy, however, it can be summarised succinctly as exemplifying an unswerving dedication to his country, from his days as a young officer in the Royal Navy in the most fateful days this World has ever seen during the Second World War to his over seventy-year devoted partnership to his wife, Her Majesty The Queen, and his family.

The Editor is grateful to Nathan Fairley for his reflection on a life well-lived.

All text accompanying featured photographs is attributed to the Editor.

The BBC’s coverage of The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral can be viewed here.

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