Yesterday was the 92nd birthday of HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, the Consort of HM Queen Elizabeth. He spent it in hospital recovering from what is described as 'abdominal surgery' and one of the most touching images I have recently seen, was of our gracious Sovereign walking into the hospital carrying a birthday card for the man she fell in love with when she was a 13 year old Princess and he an 18 year old Cadet at Dartmouth.
The Press love to mock him, making a huge fuss over his supposed public 'gaffes', accussing him of 'racism' or of being 'out of touch' with 'the people'. I would suggest that the people who write these attacks do so largely out of a desire to drag down someone so much more able, and with so much more to his credit than they will ever achieve. I have had the pleasure of meeting him on three separate occassions, none of them official, and none of them 'formal', yet, on the second and third encounters he immediately recognised me and said, "We've met before. Remind me of the last occassion."
He has a formidable memory for names and faces, a razor sharp sense of humour and a powerful intellect. His sense of duty is legendary, and his relationship with the Queen, his wife, is as solid as the Rock of Gibralter - despite numerous attempts by the Press to find 'dirt' to cast aspertions. The devotees of Diana accused him of all manner of things he was supposed to have said or done to 'destroy' her, all of them false. He doesn't mince his words, and calls a spade a spade. Anyone who earns a rebuke from him is going to get exactly what he thinks and not something that can be misunderstood.
Until his latest illness, Prince Phillip has followed a punishing schedule of official duties and appearances. He is Patron of, and takes an active interest in, over 800 charities. He served in some of the most active theatres of WW2, earning several 'mentions in despatches' and decorations. Since then he has served the nation and its people with humour, loyalty and dignity, often in very difficult circumstances. At 92 I would suggest that the vast majority of his detractors would be making excuses to retire, it is a mark of Prince Phillip's sense of duty that on the eve of his operation he accompanied the Queen to Westminster Abbey to mark the 60th Anniversary of her coronation, despite being noticeably unwell and having to cancel two other engagements later.
I have nothing but admiration for this man, and I hope he recovers quickly to look forward to many more years of health.
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