The age of duty passes, I suppose, with the death of Prince Philip, the chosen spouse of Her Highness, Queen Elizabeth II of England and whatever remains of the Commonwealth and domains. (And in the theology of a remote South Pacific island tribe, the worshipped deity and incarnation of a local volcano spirit, through a process which no one outside that tribe can quite figure out.)
No, I’m not a royalty devotee, in any particular degree. I’m an American, of British descent yet purely republican (small r there, let it be known), so I suppose it is a sentimental thing on my part – or even a degree of decent human sympathy. As my daughter said, unforced, on reading the news the other morning, “Oh, poor Queen!” A seven-decade long marriage, for that time always under the constant, unblinking, pitilessly Sauron-like, and censorious eye of the public media – ended by death at the end of a horrible and trying year. Poor Queen. A woman who was (and still remains) under unsparing scrutiny for nearly all of her life from the age of twelve or so, and yet performed flawlessly in the public sphere, on practically every occasion. The loss of her sister, her mother, now her husband, and all this on top of a fraught and very public estrangement from an adult grandson … poor Queen, indeed. Her private circle of heart-friends and close-mouthed supporters is narrowed substantially by one, and that possibly the dearest and most personal supporter of all. Sympathy indeed. She has a pair of new dogs, and the remaining family and friends to comfort her, so at least she has that.
I don’t have any personal encounters with the late Prince to report – only that he and a small entourage passed through Sondrestrom, Greenland, during the year that I served a year there. I was not a party present at the small official dinner hosted for him by the small official military and Danish civilian establishment, although some of my friends were: another broadcaster fellow doing double duty as a waiter at the O’Club where the dinner was held, and a guy who was my professional NCO mentor, who attended the dinner as part of his duty as the chief of the Air Force police detachment. They variously reported that he (and the small entourage as well) were amusing and rather salty in speech – the Prince himself dropping an f-bomb at having mistakenly poured a slug of red wine into the white wine or water glass as the evening progressed, to the surprise of the hovering waiter. Ah, well, I said, at hearing this report from the broadcaster/waiter the next morning – HRH was a serving Navy officer in time of a shooting war, back in the day.
My own mother lost her dearest heart-friend more than a decade ago; my own Dad, after more than half a century of devoted marriage. Dad was, as we have come to realize, the social butterfly of the two of them – gregarious, outgoing, an awful tease and toweringly intelligent. We miss him still; Mom the most, as I think now that he provided a certain steel to her spine, and a purpose in living an active life. I rather suspect that Prince Phillip was all that for his wife, at least as Dad was for Mom.
Meantime, in top news on this side of the pond – although extensively reported only on the other side – a serious public affairs front is launched in all the best media circles, in order to rehabilitate an infamously degenerate, exhibitionist, corrupt, female-kin-seducing, stripper-impregnating, lap-top and weapon-losing whore-monger waste-of-flesh crackhead who turns out to be the son of our so-called potted-plant president. My take on this media relations offensive … I think it’s gonna be an uphill job on our tame media’s part to make Hunter Biden look like a hapless innocent done wrong by his own ungovernable impulses, although the established media are giving it the good old college try.
And what extremes does our own human race encompass in the space of a single week – two extremes of the same species: one an adornment to it, and the other … not. Comment as you wish.