Tribute to Prince Phillip—he marched to his own tune

Zeenath Khan

At noon GMT (April 10), guns boomed across seven locations in the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, and on two Royal Navy Ships somewhere in the middle of the seven seas. Thereafter, for the next forty minutes, they boomed every minute.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth awarded her beloved husband the forty-one-gun death salutein recognition ofhis lifetime of service. Prince Phillip patronized around 800 charities and undertook 22,000 public engagements. He championed environmental causes, British industry, and sports. He chaired the Duke of Edinburgh award for youngsters. But what is most admirable and noteworthy about Prince Phillip is his devotion to his wife.

When the Queen’s father, King George VI, died, Prince Phillip had to resign a successful naval career and assume the role of the consort of the Monarch. Fiery ambition raged within the young Phillip’s breast. His grandfather and uncle, Lord Mountbatten, had both risen to the rank of First Sea Lord. With a distinguished war record behind him, Phillip undoubtedly dreamed of attaining similar glory. Yet, Prince Phillip spent most of the seventy-three years of his married life walking a step behind the Queen. One wonders how a strong-willed man with a promising career, someone known for his daredevilry and sporting prowess, accepted his lot in life.

From a psychological perspective, Phillip and Elizabeth were each other’s mirror images—call it yin and yang, if you will. Supporting personalities are usually flat but Phillip’s character was more rounded than Elizabeth’s.

While Elizabeth epitomized an agreeable personality; Phillip wasn’t afraid of being disagreeable. Phillip was a daredevil, energetic, excitable, and loud. Elizabeth is a plodder; she is serious and quiet.

Political correctness wasn’t Phillip’s forte—but what strikes one most of all is how confident the Duke of Edinburgh was about his masculinity to sacrifice his career and devote his life to supporting the Queen and Crown.The rules called for him to walk behind his wife, but he did so with tremendous dignity. Never did he appear obsequious, nor did he resent Elizabeth for her elevated status. Phillip was Elizabeth’s closest confidante—her Rock of Gibraltar. Behind the scenes, theirs was an equal partnership. Today’s ‘me’ generation ought to take a leaf out of Phillip and Elizabeth’s marriage while setting relationship goals for themselves. The idea of setting self aside for a greater purpose is unimaginable in modern times.

Because of the pandemic, the Royal Family has announced that Phillip’s funeral will be a small private affair and not a ceremonial one. Prince Phillip, like his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, planned his funeral. Quite a morbid pastime—but then Phillip always marched to the beat of his own drum.

Zeenath Khan is based in Mumbai. She writes columns and blogs and is in the process of writing a book on Hyderabad.