Archbishop pays tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh
On behalf of the Church in Wales, the Archbishop of Wales has expressed sadness on hearing of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and has extended deepest condolences and the assurance of prayers to Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family.
Paying tribute to Prince Philip, the Archbishop, John Davies, said he had been a rock in the life of the Queen and had lived a life rooted in service and duty both to her and to others.
Archbishop John praised the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme set up for young people, and he also acknowledged the Duke’s keen interest in matters of theology.
Reflecting upon what some have described as the Duke’s “glorious gaffes” the Archbishop believed that these revealed “an affectionately kind outlook and a sharp sense of humour”.
Archbishop John said, “These are but a few examples from a long life, packed with variety and rooted in the service of others, the nation, the Commonwealth and beyond. For his gifts and talents, for the benefits that his life brought to the lives of others, for his sense of duty and calling, and for his many evident and admirable qualities and attributes, we should give thanks and pray that he might be at peace, free from human frailty, and in new life with Christ.”
Tribute to HRH The Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh
Having decided to forego what could have been a hugely rewarding personal life and career, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, stood at the side of Her Majesty the Queen at their marriage at Westminster Abbey in 1947. There he steadfastly remained. Despite his retirement from public life in 2017, it is unimaginable that, away from the public gaze, his support of and for the Queen wavered as she continued to fulfil her official duties and headship of the Royal Family. In both spheres, the Queen has, over more than seven decades of married life, faced countless crises and massive demands, and His Royal Highness, both sustained and strengthened her throughout. It is quite commonplace nowadays for someone to be described as a rock in the life of another individual. In the case of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, it is entirely fitting.
The Duke of Edinburgh is, perhaps, most prominently remembered in popular consciousness and the affections of the wider public for two particular reasons: first because of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, offering the world’s most prominent youth achievement programme, and from which the lives of countless young people from many different backgrounds have been enabled to flourish since the inception of the scheme in 1956. Secondly, he is remembered because of some of those unofficial, off-the-cuff remarks and comments with which the Duke has become associated over a number of years – ‘glorious gaffes’ they have been dubbed by some. Such remarks and comments were demonstrative of a man, endowed with sharp wit and no small amount of humour. It is to be hoped that they are also recognised as coming from someone also possessed of an affectionately kind outlook, even by those who might have found some of them to be less politically correct than they considered to be entirely appropriate.
Less well-known is the Duke’s theologically inquiring mind. Some, but possibly not many, will have heard of and read ‘A Windsor Correspondence’, a small book of some 80 pages, published in 1984 containing the correspondence that passed between the Duke and the then Dean of Windsor, the Very Rev’d Michael Mann. The catalyst for the correspondence was Sir Fred Hoyle’s co-authored 1981 work and associated 1982 lecture ‘Evolution from Space’ the subject matter of which was the probability of the existence of God and the origin of life from space, directed by a great intelligence. The Duke was also a noted, and usually constructive, critic of some of the many sermons he and the Queen heard preached over many years.
These are but a few examples from a long life, packed with variety and rooted in the service of others, the nation, the Commonwealth and beyond. For his gifts and talents, for the benefits that his life brought to the lives of others, for his sense of duty and calling, and for his many evident and admirable qualities and attributes, we should give thanks and pray that he might be at peace, free from human frailty, and in new life with Christ.
It is the Queen and the rest of their family who will feel most keenly and lament most profoundly the Duke’s passing. May they also be able to give thanks for all that he brought to others in so many ways and over so many years. I assure them all of my love and prayers and those of many in the Church in Wales.