Last week we said goodbye to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His passing reminded us how much we have changed as a nation over the past 75 years. Yet also underlined the constancy of our way of life.
It sometimes happens in our national life that people or places come to embody our ideals or values. Such is the case with Winston Churchill, and indeed our White Cliffs. In our darkest hour they stood proud, defiant and indomitable. Our White Cliffs are a symbol of hope, freedom and independence – and remain so to this day. In the same way, Prince Philip came to embody values that are important to us all. His service and duty have been much discussed this past week. No one was more dedicated to the service of our Sovereign and duty to our nation than he.
Yet he also embodied the values of innovation, hard work and selfless duty to others. These are all values that have been at the forefront of the nation during the past year. It has been a united effort, led by the Prime Minister, of ministers working hand in glove with scientists, of volunteers, doctors and nurses battling the virus on the frontline. Each and every one of us doing our duty, and as we saw in the dignity of Her Majesty The Queen, sometimes at great personal cost.
On Saturday we were also reminded that Prince Philip shared that national belief in technology, innovation and our forward looking ‘can do ‘attitude that has been arguably our finest quality both now and in times past. Right now, we are forging ahead with international trade treaties, refreshing long-standing friendships in Commonwealth and other countries and finding a new global place in the world.
But it was also a reminder that this is a time of extraordinary change and challenge. We live in an age of new technology with the internet, which is changing our values, relationships and information. Sometimes for good, sometimes as an echo chamber of the bad. From the printing press to the current day, each time of great technological advancement has brought with it challenge and change. That’s why this week’s respectful reflection and accurate historical information provided a welcome opportunity to pause and reflect on his extraordinary life.
Prince Philip was also a person who had fun and built deep friendships. His religious devotion and exploration of his faith a far cry from the Netflix depiction of the playboy prince. People make many turns throughout their life. A whole life, a complex life, is never monochrome. He was practical, organised, realistic – the Navy officer to the last. In organising his own final wishes and journey, he brought structure and solace to his loved ones. In Prince Philip’s passing, we lost a giant. A giant not by his status, but by a life well-lived.