- Frank Serpe
Prince Phillip: The U.K. and World Bid Farewell to a Royal
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was laid to rest on April 17, marking the end of a storied and impactful life of service. Britain’s longest reigning consort died on April 9 at the age of 99. He was two months away from his 100th birthday.
Members of the British Royal Family gathered at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle to pay their respects to the House of Windsor’s patriarch. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance was limited to 30 family members. Masks were worn and social distancing was followed by the congregation.
The funeral was joined by over 730 members of the armed services and was noticeably smaller than past royal funerals. Personal touches of the Prince could be found throughout the service, including his riding carriage and gloves, personal flag, medals and other regalia, and a green Land Rover designed by the Duke of Edinburgh. Followed closely behind by his children and grandchildren, the Prince’s coffin briefly paused before entering the chapel as the United Kingdom observed a national moment of silence.
The death of Prince Philip has sent shockwaves through not only the Royal Family, but also around the U.K. and the world. For more than 70 years, Prince Philip stood by Queen Elizabeth II’s side as her consort, husband, and chief confidant.
Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in 1921, he was the only son and fifth child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. He spent his formative years in Great Britain, attending the prestigious Gordonstoun School in Scotland.
After graduating from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth as the best cadet in his class, Prince Philip would go on to serve in World War II. Along with other engagements, he was mentioned in dispatches for his role during the Battle of Crete and was present at the Allied invasion of Sicily. He was also stationed in Tokyo Bay during the signing of the instrument of Japanese surrender ending the war.
He and then-Princess Elizabeth married in 1947. After the Queen’s coronation, Prince Philip dedicated his time to supporting the sovereign. Patron to over 800 organizations, he took particular interests in supporting the environment, education, and sports.
In his younger years, he was an avid polo player, driver, and aviator, accumulating thousands of flying hours. His down-to-earth personality and humor won him affection from people across the world.
The Duke of York stated that the Prince’s death has “left a huge void in [the Queen’s] life”. Royal insiders claim that, due to the Prince’s waning health over the past few years, the Queen has been preparing for this news for some time. Sources go on to say that she is likely remaining “steady and calm” during this period of mourning.
Governments and private individuals within the U.K., the Commonwealth of Nations, and the global community have shared their condolences and reflected on the Prince’s decades of public service.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remarked that, “We remember the Duke for all of this and above all for his steadfast support for Her Majesty The Queen. Not just as her consort, by her side every day of her reign, but as her husband, her ‘strength and stay’, of more than 70 years”.
The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, declared, “During a period of unprecedented change and technological progress, the Duke of Edinburgh supported The Queen with energy and imagination. They will each of them forever remain inextricably connected to the period when the Commonwealth developed and grew in stature”.
U.S. President Joe Biden also released a statement, reading, “His legacy will live on not only through his family, but in all the charitable endeavors he shaped”.
At 94-years old, there is worry that the Queen could enter a period of poor health herself. Researchers have found this “widowhood effect” can lead to an increased risk of death for widows and widowers in the first few months after a spouse’s death.
Charles, Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the British throne, has come into greater focus with his father’s passing. Due to the Queen’s advanced age, he has already assumed numerous responsibilities. Now, as the new family patriarch, he is likely to take on further duties.
With other senior members of the Royal Family pursuing lighter work schedules, younger royals are undertaking new positions. In a period of renewed change and scrutiny for the royals, the traditional institution may see significant changes in the coming years.
The Prince’s death also comes on the heels of Oprah Winfrey’s bombshell sit-down interview with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markel, Duchess of Sussex. Though Prince Harry attended the funeral, there are still signs of deep rifts between him and the rest of the Royal Family. Meghan was unable to attend because she is pregnant and could not obtain medical clearance to fly.
With the U.K. and the world in the midst of a transformative period, including the lingering effects of Brexit and a global pandemic, the Prince’s death marks the end of an era. While a newer generation of royals continues to step-into important roles, lingering questions surrounding the role of the monarchy in modern society remain. In the Prince’s asence, the Crown will mourn a beloved family member and while pausing to reflect on its past, present, and future roles.