The Duke of Edinburgh gave up his own personal ambitions to serve the Queen and the nation. Time will reveal the depth of gratitude that is owed to him
The Queen and Prince Philip in a carriage during Trooping the Colour, 2017 | Alamy
Prince Philip embodied so much of history, and not just British history but world history
It was with much sadness that I received the news of the passing of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh. Sadness, not because “he was gone”, after all he had had a life well lived, but sadness for the pain of loss that Her Majesty must be experiencing after 73 years of marriage.
I believe her faith will hold her in good stead. For her 90th birthday, Her Majesty shared with us words from her father’s Christmas Day broadcast: “I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’” Her Majesty’s hand will be in God’s hand at this time.
The Duke of Edinburgh – what a life – a consort, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, elder statesman with approximately a century of life behind him. He embodied so much of history, and not just British history but world history. The places he travelled to and the people he met. Here in the diocese of Canterbury, we have a link with Madagascar, and so I was particularly interested in the story told of his environmental engagement with that part of the world.
The disruption of his childhood was not dissimilar to the many who come to our shores seeking refuge. Thank goodness he found refuge. The foundation and support he received would have influenced his further setting up of charities that gave children and young people opportunities, setting them up for life with the kind of skills that you do not just get from a purely academic experience.
The disruption of his childhood was not dissimilar to the many who come to our shores seeking refuge
His commitment to duty and service shone and I personally admired his selflessness in the giving up of his own personal ambitions so that he could serve the Queen and in so doing serve the nation. Although out of the public gaze for some time since stepping back from public duty (in his mid-nineties), one cannot think of Her Majesty without thinking of the lifelong companionship that they shared – and the support he gave to her and the nation over the years. Time will reveal the depth of gratitude that is owed to him.
I had the privilege of meeting him when I was invited to dinner and to stay over at Windsor Castle. The day my husband and I arrived, along with a handful of other guests, was his first day back from a stay in hospital. He joined us for tea and happily chatted with us. I met him again at Buckingham Palace when I was received as one of Her Majesty’s Chaplain. He made the point of going over to my daughters – standing a little distance from me and joking with them. That was very special indeed.
It is my sincere hope that the family will be allowed the space to mourn the passing of their beloved family member. He is gone from his family and the nation physically, but he will live on in their hearts and in the heart of the nation. He has contributed to much change and, over time, this will evolve into other changes as the nation continues to grow, building on his foundation of compassion, service, commitment and duty. His name will be remembered, his legacy will live on. I will continue to hold Her Majesty and her extended family in my prayers as they mourn the loss of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
May his soul rest in peace and rise in glory.
The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin is the Bishop of Dover