I don’t feel I can allow the death of the Duke of Edinburgh to pass without comment from me.
I was lucky enough to meet him several times; firstly, in my role as Director of the Historic Churches Preservation Trust, but also during the few years that I was a member of the Council of City & Guilds. Both organisations were enthusiastically supported by the Duke.
If I have any readers who are ‘woke’, they will probably not be happy to hear me say that I think he stood for everything that is best about our country.
He had an almost unique (in the modern world) sense of duty. He always put himself last. He was a man with a very big personality, but he never allowed it to upstage Her Majesty the Queen.
Maybe we British have more of a sense of our own rather eccentric sense of humour than our friends abroad, but the Duke was almost the role model on which it is based. It often got him into trouble, when his words were (sometimes almost maliciously) misinterpreted. I experienced his sense of humour at first hand – the only picture I have of him with me, shown above, shows the Queen and me laughing at one of his jokes. As a Christian, I have no embarrassment at all in telling what I think was one of his best jokes. When Prince Edward was offered a place at Jesus College, Cambridge with a C and two Ds at A level, the Duke was heard to say:
‘What a friend we have in Jesus.’
On the occasion shown in the picture, taken 18 years ago when he was 81, I can vouch for the fact that he had a body like a young Royal Marine. It was incredible.
He cared very deeply about people who were less lucky in life than he was. I have no doubt that we’ll never know the full extent of his service to others.
Finally, and perhaps most out of tune with the world in which we live than any other aspect of his character, he had integrity. He would no more disclose to the world’s press inside secrets about the Royal Family, than fly.
He led a life which, in Biblical terms, would be described as a ‘life of good report’. He will be missed, but he would not be sad about his own passing at the age of 99, and so nor should we.
You will though, I hope, forgive me for being sad at the fact that we shall not see his like again.
Loving Father, thank you for the selfless life of duty lived by the Duke of Edinburgh. Support Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family in their loss and help us to honour this selfless man through the way that we live our own lives. Amen