Friday, June 10, 2011

Prince Philip at 90

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, long one of my favourite members of the British Royal Family due in part to his refreshing lack of deference to the plague of political correctness that suffocates most public discourse today, turned 90 today. Amusing as his so-called "gaffes" are, however, what's more important is his lifetime of service to the monarchy and his country, to which many commentators including Peter Oborne, Tom Utley, and Ed West have paid tribute. As the oldest and longest-serving consort in British history, the Queen's husband has surely earned the right to finally "wind down," as he said he would in a recent interview. I hope Prince Philip enjoys many more years in which to finally relax a bit, and congratulate HRH on his milestone birthday and his richly deserved new honour of Lord High Admiral. Additionally, the Canadian government has appointed HRH an honorary admiral and general in Her Majesty’s Canadian Armed Forces.

The Duke has been a fixture in British public life for so long (since his engagement to then-Princess Elizabeth in July 1947) that many people probably do not realize that he was born a member of the Greek royal family, the youngest child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece (1882-1944) and Princess Alice of Battenberg (1885-1969). At Andrew & Alice's 1903 wedding the guests included her aunt and uncle Empress Alexandra and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, providing a startlingly close connection between present British and long-gone Russian royalty. Contrary to the stereotype of royalty having "privileged" childhoods, Prince Philip had to be smuggled out of Greece in an orange crate as a baby due to political instability affecting his father and grew up moving from place to place relying on various relatives without a true home of his own, his parents estranged and his mother suffering from deafness and mental illness. Being born a Prince of Greece in the 20th century was no guarantee of safety, let alone privilege, but as a member of first the Royal Navy and then the British royal family Prince Philip has made his own mark on the world, to the benefit of countless people affected by the causes he's championed.

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