Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has died at the age of 99, married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years and he leaves behind his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
After the announcement today, the British media are telling the story over and over again and it’s clear that they had been preparing their archives to cover this long life in the public eye. It will fill the media for the next few days and will go up a gear again when the funeral takes place.
I met Prince Philip once — when I was about 14 — and was taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme which I genuinely do think will be one of his greatest legacies. I only did the bronze award — as have two of our daughters however I think it did me so much good. It taught me about hard work, endurance and giving back. During that year I volunteered at an old folk’s home running bingo evenings and quizzes, I trekked in a forest somewhere and stayed overnight in a tiny tent which was easily one of the worst nights under canvas I’ve ever had — and I learned to disco dance. Yes this was the era of shiny skin tight trousers and Staying Alive. I went to a building in Frome one night a week to ‘strut my stuff’.
Also during that one year there was a large event in Shepton Mallet for the scheme and I attended and was lined up to meet the Prince. The only thing I could think about was that it was really hot — and I’d sunbathed the day before and burned the back of my legs which were really swollen and sore. In those days we really didn’t know how dangerous that was. As the Prince came along the line, he looked at me (without really seeing me) and passed on by and my memory was very simple ‘OMG why doesn’t he pluck those eyebrows!’.
Today though, the strongest memory it’s brought back is the 1997 death of Princess Diana. It’s not because I’m a strong Royalist, I’m not. It’s simply this, when a member of the Royal Family passes away the public outpouring of grief and the blanket media coverage is very painful if you lose a loved one during this period of time. It makes your loss seem extremely insignificant.