Prince Philip, Backbone of United Kingdom, Dies at 99

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Prince Philip, the longest-serving consort in the history of the United Kingdom, has died at age 99. He was modest, intelligent, and dedicated to the monarchy and his adopted country. He was a visionary in many ways and worked hard for his charities and the causes he believed in.

Born with Greek, Danish, and German royal pedigrees, he was nonetheless almost penniless with a dubious personal history when he married then Princess Elizabeth. Having three sisters marry Germans, some with Nazi ties, just previous to World War II, made things a bit dicey.

Achievements

He is credited with working behind the scenes to modernize the monarchy and make the institution more accessible to the people. It was his idea to televise Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Previous to that, coronations were seen as a bit of a mystical affaire surrounded by the mysterious behind closed doors.

Duke of Edinburgh Award is considered to be his crowning achievement. The award gives youth from any background the opportunity to become strong and productive members of the community.

He also shares his son Prince Charles’ interest in the environment and was a long-time supporter of the World Wildlife Fund. He was the founding president of the organization in the United Kingdom and was the International President from 1981 until 1996.

What Prince Philip Meant to Me

His passing has me remembering a brief moment years ago when I nearly ran into the Duke of Edinburgh, quite literally.

Many years ago, I was a buyer for a large retail company, and one day as I was walking from one buying appointment to another in New York City I almost barged through a small gathering of people when I stopped short of walking right into Prince Philip. Yes, that Prince Philip. Duke of Edinburgh. The long-standing husband of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Grandfather of Princes Harry and William. I am not sure why he was in the city at the time, but I remember thinking that I would have rather seen Princess Diana or some movie star. Several of my fellow buyers had recently seen Tom Cruise.

Over the years, I have oddly thought of that day. While he held himself with a military stance, ram-rod straight back, he was jovial. He shook hands with the small cluster of people standing about and smiled graciously as he walked towards the waiting limousine. Then he whooshed away into the engulfing traffic. He was gone, but the moment lingered. For all that has been said about him, I found him a “class act” when he could have just as easily rushed past everyone. It was not an official moment.

I have to say, I mourn his loss. I really wanted the old boy to make it to 100 years of age.

An admitted Anglophile, I have always found the history of the British royal family intriguing. All the passion, lust, envy, greed, madness, and murder as the power passed from one king or queen to another until the present day. But decidedly, the Crown has long unified the country, and I think in times such as these, that symbol needs to remain strong. Even if it seems a bit archaic. It takes a special kind of strength to live a life as the backbone of a country. I think Prince Phillip has been Queen Elizabeth’s backbone.

My interaction with Prince Philip, if you can call it that, was momentary, and yet he was enough of a personality to have left an impression on me for so long. I can see that he was indeed, as Elizabeth herself has said, her rock. Perhaps, the backbone of the country.

“During these years as your Queen, the support of my family has, across the generations, been beyond measure,” Queen Elizabeth said, as noted in her Diamond Jubilee speech, found on the BBC website. “Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind. But throughout he has been a constant strength and guide.”

In spite of his position, he was a man who preferred no fuss. According to a CNN report, Prince William said, “he totally put his personal career aside to support her, and he never takes the limelight.”

And yet, the limelight of his death has the opportunity to pull his people together, country and family, during this trying time.

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