COLUMN: Prince Philip just got on with it—to our surprise

Vintage scrapbooks gave way to Instagram and Facebook. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)Vintage scrapbooks gave way to Instagram and Facebook. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)
Flags fly at half mast in Veterans’ Square in Cloverdale April 13 to mark the passing of Prince Philip. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Flags fly at half mast in Veterans’ Square in Cloverdale April 13 to mark the passing of Prince Philip. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

As a British-born Canadian citizen, the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on April 9, 2021, made me pause and reflect.

Whether it’s my era, upbringing, or newspaper and aviation careers, moments in history always captured my attention. Being part of history is a privilege. This is one of those moments.

From a writer’s perspective, a penniless prince who didn’t suffer fools gladly, looked life in the eye, joined the navy, saw the world, then hit the headlines, has storyline possibilities. Craft in a Greek blue-eyed athletic Royal Naval officer capturing the heart of a king’s daughter before turning his toes up a century later leaving endless grass-roots legacies and an author could be forgiven for firing off a query letter to Harlequin.

That’s the image many 1950s era children (well, me anyway) remember. Yesterdays Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest were simply 11” x 15” scrapbooks thanks to plentiful newspaper and magazine clippings, scissors, and glue. In my case gaudy flower stickers and bluebirds replaced the glue.

Yes, we did envy Princess Elizabeth her tall, blonde, blue-eyed prince who frequently got into hot water for speaking his mind. We Ontario kids who madly cheered and waved flags on the Malton Airport tarmac as the couple arrived in 1951 could equate to that!

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Today, in the grip of a global pandemic, I wonder if cut-and-paste features in children’s lives. Do any world events (including the passing of this previously unsung innovative prince) register with youngsters today? I still remember grumping about having to wait while my mother adjusted the radio. “Hush! The King has just died! One day you’ll remember this.”

Eventually, as an adult in other parts of the world, we’d sit and discuss major world events – but that would be over sherry.

Recently abandoning the steady drum beat of murder, mayhem, vaccines and vexation I took refuge in the BBC World Service. Here I found interviews with men, women, scientific gurus and assorted worldwide teens whose lives were permanently changed (quietly without fanfare) by a refugee baby in an orange crate rescued by the Royal Navy. That refugee baby grew up to be the Duke of Edinburgh.

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Publicly viewed as the guy who walked behind the Queen, HRH Prince Philip Mountbatten must have known he’d have the last chuckle when he instructed his wife, “Just stick me in the back of a Land Rover and drive me to Windsor”. Apparently his choice of hearse will be a modified Land Rover Defender 130 Gun Bus. No news on whether the Grenadier Guards bearer party will place his casket in his beloved bronze green (or a black) one for the eight-minute journey to St. George’s Chapel within the walls of Windsor Castle. I’m betting on green considering he was a committed ecologist. Royal Marines, Regiments, Corps and Air Stations officers will be pall bearers.

The British do pomp and circumstance best. It will be a fitting send-off. Another page in history. In the Navy way signals will be sent, and we’ll just jolly well get on with it.

Prince Philip’s funeral will be held at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle April 17. It will be televised starting at 7 a.m.

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis was the founding publisher and managing editor of the Cloverdale Reporter. Contact her at utravel@shaw.ca.

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editor@cloverdalereporter.com

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