Eccentric, contrary, and a bit iconoclastic to the end. Bless.
I can’t help contrasting Philip’s lifelong behavior with that of his whiny and self-centered grandson, Prince Harry. (I’ll see your dead mother and raise you an assassinated grandfather; a distant father exiled and dissipated, an emotionally fragile mother seized, locked up and subjected to horrific medical procedures (her doctor having consulted Sigmund Freud–and that never ends well for women–in order to shut down what he was sure was her rampant sex drive (and electroshock therapy to boot); a sister and her family killed in a plane crash; being smuggled out of the country of my birth as an infant, in an orange crate, one step ahead of the revolutionaries; and going to war against my sisters’ husbands in World War II because they’d married Germans who fought in the Army of the Third Reich.)
Kinda puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? From the CBC:
He didn’t see or have any word from his mother between the summer of 1932 and the spring of 1937.
It’s simply what happened,” Philip said matter-of-factly in an excerpt from a book by Philip Eade, Young Prince Philip, Turbulent Early Years, published in the Telegraph. “The family broke up. My mother was ill, my sisters were married, my father was in the south of France. I just had to get on with it. You do. One does.”
And so he did. “Trapped,” as his grandson Harry would insist, in a life where, for more than seven decades he was condemned to walk two paces behind his wife, never to speak first in public, and never to talk about himself. (Advice he apparently gave to the younger royals, but which in at least one case, fell on deaf ears.) He made a promise, at his wife’s coronation in 1953:
I, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks…so help me God
And he kept it unto death.
Such used to be the measure of a man. And Philip, destined, and having agreed to, a very public, subordinate role in his marriage, lived up to it. No fuss about being overlooked, or thought of as second-best. No playing the victim card because he’d had to give up a very promising naval career (he was Tokyo Bay with the British Navy when Hirohito surrendered in 1945, and served with distinction in Europe throughout the war) upon his wife’s accession to the throne. No whining about being smeared, for decades as “Not One Of Us” (“Phil the Greek,” “Stavros”). No carrying-on to The Oprah about the occasionally very nasty coverage from the British press, or about the emotional stress caused by perpetual second-bananahood.
He just got on with it.
I think of him as the Proverbs 31 husband. A perfect, complementary love match with his wife. Two people whose affection and trust in each other strengthened them both. Rare. Sweet.
Rest in peace, Philip, good and faithful servant.
Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021