Friday just gone marked the end of an era for not just Britain, but the whole world. The death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh will be mourned by people from all four corners of the world, for he was a staple of British society and a true great Briton.
For such a staple of Britishness, and arguably the most recognised Briton after HM The Queen, he was actually born in Greece, into the Greek Royal Family with Danish heritage but in an unconventional style which would later show in his life, he was born on the kitchen table!
He was more than a unique character, a successful Navy Commander during World War 2 who helped fight the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, a career he gave up for love and devotion to his wife. The Duke was a straight talking man and someone who represents British values, I feel, perfectly, from his no nonsense approach to life - a trait he showed in his rare interviews.
HRH's mother was someone of note also, not just because she was a Royal, Princess Alice of Battenberg, but she played a significant part during the Second World War as she hid Jewish families from the Nazis in her home in Greece, saving their lives. She later founded a Greek Orthodox nursing order of nuns known as the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary in Greece.
Throughout his life, Prince Philip became a beloved member of the British Royal Family, usually behind The Queen as her loyal consort. On their Golden Wedding anniversary in 1997, Her Majesty summed up her husband perfectly, "He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know." A statement I think we can all very much agree with.
However, don't think the Duke was out of touch with the public, his razor sharp wit, humour and bluntness resonated with the British public like no other Royal. On a trip to Ghana, he discovered they only had 200 MPs in their Parliament, to which he commented, "That's about the right number. We have 650 of them and most of them are a complete bloody waste of time!"
Although the Royal Family's politics are never stated, he did hint at his love of freedom in 1984, saying to Thames Television, "The individual shouldn't be lost in the bureaucracy of state. The consequences of dictatorships… that individuals are there for the sake of the state, and I think that seems to be wrong to me, the state should be there for the sake of the individual. Trust individuals to pursue their own interests to the benefit of their fellow citizens and the state as a whole."
It was that kind of sharpness which the British people adored the Prince so much for, he took no prisoners and was often prone to a 'gaffe' or two but that is what we love about him and quite frankly, that is what we will miss as he was the last of a generation.
He has been a stalwart to not just Queen Elizabeth but to the whole nation, the vast majority of us have known nothing else but him being a fixture, someone who will be sadly missed by people of every generation. They were married for 73 years and Prince Philip acted as the sovereign's consort for nearly seven decades, selflessly giving up his own military career in the Navy to serve Her Majesty during her reign which began in 1952 following the sudden death of her father, King George VI.
He also established himself as an expert in opening things, famously declaring in Canada, "I declare this open, whatever it is!", and self proclaiming himself as 'the world's most experienced plaque unveiler'.
He will be fondly remembered around the world, from all nations in the Commonwealth and beyond, a tribe which worshipped him as a living God, and back home, here in the United Kingdom. He will be remembered as a true family man, dedicated to his duties to his wife and the nation, as a decorated military man who was present for the Japanese surrender and who fought against Nazi Germany and also as a man who supported charity, enriching the lives of literally thousands through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.
HRH's funeral will take place on Saturday 17th April 2021 in St. George's Chapel, in the grounds of Windsor Castle, where the Duke passed away peacefully on Friday. The funeral will be a small family affair, limited by numbers due to COVID restrictions anyway, but also in line with his own wishes of a family funeral, rather than a state funeral. His coffin will be taken to the chapel by a modified Landrover which he helped design himself, another passion of his being design, engineering and indeed driving.
There are endless humorous anecdotes which could be included in this obituary which just shows the scale of how loved Prince Philip really was, he treated everyone equally, from his friendship with a scrap dealer to having a drink with a White House butler and insisting that he poured the drinks during a visit to the US, he will be remembered as the people's Prince and undoubtedly remembered very fondly by all.
Rest in Peace, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 10th June 1921 - 9th April 2021
The Bruges Group would like to offer their condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and the rest of The Royal Family at this difficult time.