Those words spoken by the then twenty one year old Princess Elizabeth in 1947 have indeed shaped her whole life. I feel certain they were also embraced by HRH Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, when he took on the role of Consort at the time of the Queen’s coronation.
He has lived a long and active life, one which has been dedicated to the Queen to whom he was a devoted husband, to his family, the Nation, the Commonwealth, his charities and regiments.
Princess Elizabeth knowing that a life time of responsibilities and duty lay ahead, chose her ‘Prince Charming’ well. Not for her the Prince who would turn into a frog. Her Prince was the ‘real deal’; a supportive husband, a pillar of strength, her rock of granite. All of which has sustained her whilst being a truly remarkable Monarch.
Theirs has been a true love story. An extraordinary partnership which has enriched our Nation. Also the lives of all those they have encountered around the globe, over these past 74 years.
As has been said since we heard the news that Prince Philip died on the 9th of April, on the 99th day of the year, aged 99, ‘He lived a life of service faced with strength and fortitude’.
Somehow the age of 99 seems appropriately upright and powerful for such a prominent figure. Perhaps the perfect age for our remarkable Prince to slip peacefully away.
One has a feeling that, as throughout his life, the Duke ‘did it his way’. I doubt he relished the idea of ‘all that fuss’, had he reached his 100th birthday.
I feel sure that next Saturday he will be looking down upon his ‘beloved Lilibet’ the Queen, and his family, when they gather to mourn his death, and ‘celebrate’ his extraordinary long and creative life, at St George’s Chapel.
If they listen carefully I believe they will hear a gentle chuckle coming from high up in the rafters. As Prince Philip watches over this very private service and the proceedings, including his coffin being delivered to the Chapel by his trusty Land Rover, he will be content that he did indeed do it ‘His Way’!
Not for him the pomp and circumstance of a ‘State Funeral’. Covid 19 has allowed his Queen and their family the peace and privacy he would wish for them, as they give thanks for his life and contemplate the years ahead without his love, strength and wisdom.
Everyone will have their own memories of Prince Philip. Some distant observations, some brief and in passing, but many will have had the privilege of meeting him in person.
On the occasions that I did, over a period of forty years, I always came away having gained one if not several pearls of wisdom. The Duke had that rare ability to engage one in conversation on an extraordinary wide range of topics including farming, into which he would drop facts, figures and information which left one wondering, ‘how on earth does he know that’?
A close friend tells me she feels ‘a mist of gloom has descended’. I disagree. The Nation is of course sad as we mourn for the Queen and her family, but as a ‘United Nation’ we must celebrate and give thanks for all that Prince Philip has been.
His legacies include challenges and support which enrich young lives. His work over decades protecting wildlife and the environment has been ground breaking. He leaves behind hope for many youngsters, a healthier environment, and a Monarchy fit for the 21st Century.