Prince Philip

His family became refugees. His father became a philanderer. His mother became mentally ill. His sisters married men who became Nazis. No wonder this lack of emotional nurture prevented Prince Philip from being a rounded diplomat. But he stewarded well his drive, ability and ideals and thereby advanced the common good. He put duty before personal preferences, but never became a palace poodle. He kept the monarchy in touch with the onward march of equality and diversity without selling its soul to cheap developments.

 The Archbishop of Canterbury this week called him prophetic. This is true in three senses: he advanced the holistic development of young people, the environment and religion. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, which he described as ‘a do-it-yourself growing up kit’, now flourishes in 144 nations, helps young people to develop self-worth and initiative by stretching their social or physical endeavour. What began as the World Wild-Life Fund recognised that humans and nature share one planet and flourish or die together. 

 His religious contribution underpins these. Colleagues who preached in royal chapels tell me he wrote copious notes during their sermons, and had profound discussions of theological questions. He has worked tirelessly to develop inter-religious perspectives on creation and pilgrimage. His mother came through mental illness to live as if she was a nun. She gave every penny to the poor. She gave refuge to persecuted Jews. When the Queen granted her rooms the Duke honoured her Orthodox Faith  by building an Orthodox chapel on the Sandringham estate. He himself used this. For him, as for us, development of young people, stewardship of nature and duty to one’s country come to nothing unless they are sustained by a respect for God.



Posted at 07:42am on 15th April 2021
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