I watched with interest this week as the Queen spoke to both Houses of Parliament as a part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations. I’m sure I’ll blog about 60 years on the throne another day, but the speech was interesting for two reasons. Firstly, whoever put the seating plan together is a comedy genius. Placing Tony Blair and Gordon Brown next to one another, and George Osbourne (Chancellor) next to Ed Balls (Shadow Chancellor) the day before the budget was a masterstroke- how I wish I could have (a) heard the conversations and (b) read their minds!
But more importantly, I was struck by Her Majesty’s words about Prince Philip. They were sweet, touching and particularly apt given his recent health scare.
I’m about to celebrate my fourth wedding anniversary with my wife, and as I see our Head of State describe her husband as her “constant strength”, I can’t help but go “aww” and feel a little romantic!
Let’s be honest- Prince Philip doesn’t ooze charisma, and when most people describe him, they probably don’t use the words “constant strength”, but rather “constant embarrassment”. He has been guilty of a few faux pas in the past- from asking a female sea cadet if she worked in a strip club, asking the dance group Diversity if they were all one family,and telling the natively-dressed President of Nigeria that he looked ‘ready for bed’, to describing both Beijing and Stoke-on-Trent as “ghastly”,asking Australian aborigines if they ‘still throw spears at each other’, and during a dinner party declaring “Bugger the table plan, give me my dinner!” The list could go on!
But to the Queen, he is a “constant strength”. Recently, family members such as Prince Harry have also commented on the support that his Granddad gives to his Grandma. It’s touching, that in such a high profile world, the simplest of pleasures- two people sharing their life together- turns out to be the most important.
Looking back in History, Prince Philip may have put his foot in it a few times, but he’s nothing compared to some Monarch’s partners- Tsar Nicholas II’s wife Alexandra probably cost him the throne, and brought an end to 300 years of Romanov rule,or how Henrietta Maria’s Catholic faith led Charles I down a path that led to Civil War, and ultimately, his own execution.Then again, being a consort to the Monarch can be hard too- just ask one of Henry VIII’s wives!
But, as we celebrate (or if you’re a Republican, ignore as much as possible) the Diamond Jubilee, let’s give some credit where it’s due to the Duke of Edinburgh, the lovable rogue that is Prince Philip!