Vale Prince Philip, 'an outstanding example of Christian service'

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, has died at Windsor Castle.

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, has died at Windsor Castle.

In a brief statement, Buckingham Palace said, “it is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband.”

The Queen and Prince Philip were married in 1947, before Her Majesty inherited the throne. At the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, Prince Philip swore allegiance to the Queen, vowing that he would be his wife’s “leige man of life and limb,” which he did for 73 years. The Queen has previously said that Prince Philip has been her “strength and stay” throughout her reign.

“He consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service.”

Tributes have begun to flow, emphasising Prince Philip’s unswerving service to the Queen.

The Governor-General of Australia, David Hurley, said he had informed the Prime Minister and that more details were to come on how Australians could express their condolences.

“As we mourn, we should also reflect and give thanks for His Royal Highness’ lifetime of service, devotion and commitment,” the Governor General said in a statement.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said Prince Philip, “continually demonstrated his unfailing support and unstinting loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen for 73 years.”

“He consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service.

“As we recover and rebuild after the terrible trial of the coronavirus pandemic, we will need fortitude and a deep sense of commitment to serving others. Throughout his life Prince Philip displayed those qualities in abundance, and I pray that we can take inspiration from his example.”

Archbishop Welby’s words echos comments made by Arthur Edwards, who worked with the royals for years as a photographer and identified Prince Philip’s greatest attribute as “kindness”.

“May God bless them and comfort them in their grief, and assure them of his loving purposes for them.”

“We saw that with Diana at her time of trouble,” said Edwards. “He’s a good Christian man, he attends a church service most weeks and when I’ve watched him in church he doesn’t just sit there – he has his own private thoughts and prayers.”

The Queen is a Patron of Bible Society in the United Kingdom, who said today that, “aside from his deep love for his family, Prince Philip’s life was driven by a profound sense of duty.”

That duty began with wartime active service in the Navy. Among his many achievements, Prince Philip established the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for young people – extremely popular in Australia – as well as making significant contributions to conservation, design, industry and technology.

Bible Society’s Chief Executive Paul Williams said: “We join with millions in giving thanks to God for his contribution to the life of our nation, and most of all for his long and loving partnership with our Queen. We pray for her, for Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, and for all who mourn his loss.

“May God bless them and comfort them in their grief, and assure them of his loving purposes for them.”

Prince Philip was born into a devout Greek Orthodox family and was baptised into the Greek Orthodox Church. When Prince Philip and the Queen – then Princess Elizabeth – were married the Prince was officially required to leave the Greek Orthodox Church and become part of the Church of England.

However, he reportedly never ceased to make the Orthodox sign of the cross in public. In the early 1990s, Prince Philip reportedly returned to his Orthodox roots, speaking in private with a Russian Orthodox bishop in London.  In 1994, at a service at Yad Vashem in 1994 honouring those people who had risked their own lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, Prince Philip paid tribute to the faith of his late mother, Princess Alice. Alice had helped a Jewish family hide from the Nazis, sheltering Rachel Cohen and two of her children during the occupation of Athens, saving them from the terrible fate of most Greek Jews.

“I suspect that it never occurred to her that her action was in any way special. She was a person with deep religious faith, and she would have considered it to be a perfectly natural human reaction to fellow beings in distress,” Prince Philip said.

Robin Woods, former Dean of Windsor, revealed another side of Prince Philip – one which has become more widely known due to its depiction in TV series The Crown.

“For years I found preaching before the Queen difficult,” Woods wrote in his autobiography, “and I came to expect critical—but always constructive—comments from Prince Philip afterwards.”

Together, Prince Philip and Woods founded St. George’s House within the confines of Windsor Castle in 1966 – a space for discussion or both religious and modern secular issues.

“We hoped to gather leading men and women with a wide range of experience and knowledge in Government, Parliament, and in civil service; in industry, commerce, and finance; in education and in medicine, for the discussion of whatever questions they regarded as being of religious and social importance,” Robin explained in his autobiography. Philip regularly gave talks at the House on the role of clergy in modern society and expressed a passion for bringing scientists and theologians together to find common ground.

In a tribute by Prince Philip’s biographer, Philip Eade wrote “As Britain’s longest-serving consort, he outlasted 14 prime ministers and carried out a staggering 22,000 solo public engagements, joking shortly before his retirement from royal duties in 2017 that he was probably the world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler. When the mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah told the prince how sorry he was to hear he was standing down, Philip riposted in characteristic fashion: ‘Well, I can’t stand up much longer!’

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