At 95, Prince Philip is the oldest member of the British royal family. His retirement from his public duties, as consort to the queen, isn’t surprising. It is noteworthy because his presence, through the changing life of Britain’s monarchy, has been significant. Philip’s Mountbatten family was exiled from Greece in WWI but he earned military honours as a naval officer in WWII, saving a ship from bombing. He met his wife-to-be, Elizabeth, on a royal naval tour. The two began writing to each other, marrying in 1947.
Post-war, marriage was changing. Philip found himself married to a woman whose work was public. Elizabeth couldn’t take on her husband’s name. Apparently, Winston Churchill, outraged with Lord Mountbatten for losing India, himself requested she wouldn’t change her name to Mountbatten. Philip was reportedly dismayed. But he began to stand by Elizabeth in her duties. Their marriage, the longest-ever royal union, seemed a marked contrast to their son Charles’s — the older couple conveyed stability while the younger royals appeared drawn to a tempestuous Hollywood-esque lifestyle. As the queen battled to keep British royalty looking good, Philip helped as a modern partner who came second, yet fulfilled his role with dignity.
Philip’s personality remained direct — his dislike of Germany, for instance, showed when he described a new British embassy in Berlin as a vast waste of space. His jokes grew unacceptable in a Britain that was less and less awed by its royalty. Philip has bandied about on the physically challenged, on former colonies and race — spotting a badly-done electrical fitting, he reportedly said it looked like it was done by an Indian — gender, status and modern culture. But he also grew aware of his datedness. He told a dentists’ conference he’d been putting his foot in his mouth for years. Realising this was no joke.
Source : The Consort
Courtesy : Indian Express – Editorials