• Carmen Milligan

...and we say goodbye to Prince Philip

"It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh."


This is how the royal notice began, framed and placed outside Buckingham Palace, as is tradition.


Prince Philip's life is well-chronicled, and we have all been entertained by television and cinema portrayals, but I wonder what it must have been like ... really been like ... to be a very strong alpha male who had to subjugate to the Queen of England. As a Commander in the British Royal Navy, he had a very promising military career. However, after Elizabeth ascended to the throne, probably much earlier than either of them suspected, he traded military service for a lifetime of service to the queen.


It would seem that Philip was the one person in Elizabeth's life who consistently treated her, not as his queen, but as a wife, mother, and woman. During a speech on their 50th wedding anniversary, she called him the sweetest thing I have ever heard: her strength and stay.


And I think that was very true. He was pivotal in bringing the royal family into modern times, televising the coronation. His wise counsel to Elizabeth has shaped many an opinion and decision from the throne. He was also quick witted and never at a loss for a quip. He called himself "the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler".


Because of his penchant for speaking-before-thinking (pot calling the kettle black, anyone?), there were also a number of gaffes: he told a nurse her country must be ‘half empty’ as there were so many Filipinos working for the NHS. After being told that Madonna was singing the Die Another Day theme in 2002, he quipped, “Are we going to need ear plugs?” Quite possible the most offensive was when he asked a Navy Sea cadet if she worked in a strip club.


EGAD!


However, theirs was a solid union. Regardless of the persons involved, 73 years of marriage is going to include ups, downs, complexities, anxieties, and beautiful memories. If you compare this photo of the couple in their older years to the one above, you will see that the gaze is still the same.

And I think that is beautiful. Amid the huge stresses, responsibilities, and public spotlight, these two have weathered some serious shit. And they continue to have that gaze.


Philip, thank you for adding flair, snark, a touch of inappropriateness, and a lot of support to the British monarchy.

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