Thoughts about the “Duke”


What are we to say about the loss of the Duke of Edinburgh? The BBC is doing it’s usual sterling job, swamping the airwaves and the news with stories, tributes and extended punditry. They talk of his influence as a father grandfather, his support for the Queen and the DOE Awards scheme.

Do I feel compassion for the Queen, losing her lifelong partner, what does this touch in me? I/we have lost people over the last year, many before their time whereas the Duke made 99 years. If only he could have offered some of those years to those who died young!

Yet this man, this slightly racist remnant of a bygone era has been part of my whole life. Whatever I think of him he has always been there, a remote but constant figure ironically brought to life through TV’s “The Crown”.
 I wish him no ill, and remind myself that each death I witness is a rehearsal for my own. I hold my hand out to him for surviving (albeit on a diet of caviar?) 99 years in good health, keeping himself fit and busy. I hope that I can go on that long in that way. The Queen says he brought “his strength” and Nick Witchell can’t stop repeating it on News 24, I think old Nick is very attached to the Royals and finds it hard to separate himself from them, he gets passionate in their defence. What was this strength? it was the strength to survive.

The Duke had a “rootless” childhood, many of us know what that means and the despair it causes in a young child. At Gordounstoun he made himself “strong” to survive. He had no clear identity – Greek but no Greek blood then was swallowed up the the Royal machine of the UK. It is quaint the way the BBC makes sideways references to his “social life” in the 50’s along side a photo of a busty blonde. His “misjudged” remarks”.

Good for him supporting the WWF and the DOE awards. He was a little ahead of his time. More than the gushing plaudits I would like to reflect on how he dealt with difference – his own difference – his own sudden isolation in a Royal Family with no real role, cut off from his beloved Royal Navy.

I would like less eulogies and more truths about Phillip. I feel sad for the Queen as I would for anyone who has experienced such loss – believe me I get it. In the end he is a symbol of that peculiar and outdated institution that this country – what is left of it – seems to be addicted to as the only glue holding us together. Perhaps he more than any other understood the tragedy of Dianna and more recently the hounding of Meghan and Harry.

This is one of those peculiar national moments where I cannot really be part of it but find myself part of it. Not really emotionally touched for Phillip, but touched for me, for this country for the tragic breakup we are experiencing at the moment – and Phillip – like him or not was a huge  part of that national fabric.