Friday, 9 April 2021

On the Death of The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh : A Critical Appraisal

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died this morning, Buckingham Palace announced. He  was 99 years old. He had been discharged last month from hospital, after undergoing what Buckingham Palace described as a “successful procedure” for a pre-existing heart condition, and after being admitted for an infection in February.
The Queen and Prince Philip were married for an incredible 73 years. Losing someone who has been by your side for most of your life - whoever you are - must be unbelievably painful.
It's a sentiment shared by progressive figures - royalist and republican alike - today. Read some of their reactions here.
Nevertheless  I would be a hypocrite if I chose to join in the chorus of platitudes that are sweeping the mainstream media across the nation and the world at this moment of time, so there will be no sychophantic gestures or  deference from a xenophobic dinosaur and relic from another age. .
The press will no doubt tomorrow carry  page after page covering the life of Philip Mountbatten, and one cannot put on the television or the radio without some gushing tribute to the man who is currently being hailed as some kind of national treasure.At least Channel 4 have taken the decision to continue normal scheduling after Prince Philip's death.
But everywhere else his many “gaffes” are now being celebrated, as amusing eccentricities, but the fact remains he was as fine an example of the good old-fashioned traditional British racist and bigot as you could get.
On one occasion, he warned a British student he met in Hong Kong that if he stayed there too long, he’d go “slitty-eyed.
He also once congratulated a young man who hiked across Papua New Guinea on not being eaten by the locals.In 2002, he asked Australian aboriginals whether they still “chucked spears at each other 
The Prince once asked Filipina nurses working for the National Health Service (NHS) if there was anyone left in their country, and told an Indian businessman with the surname ‘Patel’ at an official event at Buckingham Palace “there’s a lot of your family in tonight” in reference to the 400 Indian guests in attendance.
Some of the Prince’s comments on women have also attracted criticism.While receiving a gift from a Kenyan woman in 1984, the Duke saw fit to ask: “You are a woman, aren’t you?
He also told the Scottish Women’s Institute that “British women can’t cook” during a visit in 1961.
When told by a female Sea Cadet that she worked in a nightclub in 2009, the interested Duke asked: “Is it a strip club?
Although he was the Duke of Edinburgh, Philip he certainly ruffled a few Scottish feathers over the years. He once asked a Scottish driving instructor: “how do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?” during a 1995 visit.
Prior to this incident, when Prince Philip had visited China in 1986, he had told British students studying over there: "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed."
In 1999, the Duke of Edinburgh made a racist comment on Indian workers. While on a visit to an electronics factory in Scotland, he had seen a messy fuse box and said it looked "as though it was put in by an Indian." Within hours, the Buckingham Palace said: "The Duke of Edinburgh regrets any offence which may have been caused by remarks he is reported as making earlier today. With hindsight, he accepts what were intended as light-hearted comments were inappropriate," the Independent reported.
 In 1999, Prince Philip had reportedly asked black politician, Lord Taylor of Warwick: "And what exotic part of the world do you come from?"
According to the Telegraph, in May 1999, when Prince Philip had visited Cardiff, Wales, he had told children from the British Deaf Association, who were standing by a Caribbean steel band: "If you're near that music it's no wonder you're deaf".
In 2003, the prince told the President of Nigeria, who was in national dress: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”
In 2009, the prince asked a black dance troupe "Diversity" who had come at the Royal Variety Performance: "Are you all one family?"
In 2010, during a prize-giving ceremony for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, a girl told him that she had been to Romania to help in an orphanage. He replied: "Oh yes, there's a lot of orphanges in Romania - they must breed them".
The Palace has never apologised doe any of his bigoted comments mentioned above, and while I acknowledge their sense of loss, by accepting them and his behaviour in the eyes of those who  take a more critical gaze are as tarnished and complicit,
Prince Philippos Andreou Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg was born on Corfu on June 10 1921,Philip never liked to admit to his Greek origins, much preferring to identify himself with the Danish royal family.An anti-monarchist uprising forced his family to flee, so Philip left the country when he was only a baby, and on top of that, his father was accused of treason and banished.
 With Europe increasingly in turmoil throughout the interwar period, he ended up at school first in Germany and then in Britain and when the Second World War broke out, he became an officer in the Royal Navy. If he had remained at school in Germany then he would certainly have ended up a Nazi, fighting for Hitler. 
 Not only has he never shown any great liking for parliamentary democracy, but three of his sisters married men who became senior Nazis. His youngest sister, Sophie, was married to an SS Colonel who headed up Goering’s special intelligence agency. After the  death of his pregnant sister, Cecile, and her husband, George Donatus, the Grand Duke of Hesse (who were themselves members of the Nazi Party), Philip was photographed in a funeral march alongside his family members by marriage who wore full Nazi garb. Beside him marched his surviving German brothers-in-law: Prince Christoph of Hesse, husband of Philip's youngest sister, Sophie, conspicuous in his SS garb; and Christoph's brother, Prince Philipp of Hesse, in the brown shirt of the SA. Philip's uncle, Lord Louis ("Dickie") Mountbatten, followed just behind in British naval dress. As for Philip, when he was preparing to marry the future queen Elizabeth, he too cunningly changed his name from Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg to Mountbatten.
 One of his great disappointments in life was never to have become king. Instead he became  the royal consort condemned to forever go through the empty pretence of caring about the lives of ordinary people in order to safeguard both the monarchy and the social order more generally.
Along the way he picked up a lot of titles, Prince Philip's full title was HRH (His Royal Highness) The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, Knight of the Garter, Knight of the Thistle, Order of Merit, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, Companion of the Order of Australia, Companion of The Queen's Service Order, Privy Counsellor.
He was also  named a Knight of the Order of the Elephant in Denmark, a Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu in Papua New Guinea and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion." But wait, there's more. He's also received the distinction of being named "a Knight Grand Cross with Brilliants of the Order of the Sun by Peru," as well as been awarded "the Collar of the Order of the Queen of Sheba by Ethiopia, and the Collar of the Order of the Aztec Eagle by Mexico. Absolutely bonkers.
Over the years his casual  racism, bigotry, class prejudice and reactionary views on just about everything have all been either marginalised or suppressed. A man without any concern whatsoever for ordinary people and  so  out of touch with modern sensibilities,was somehow turned by the magic of PR into someone who has devoted himself to charity. 
Ok Prince Philip was the first President of the World Wildlife Fund-UK from its foundation in 1961 to 1982, and was International President of WWF (now World Wide Fund for Nature) from 1981 to 1996,but you would not have found him  chaining himself to a tree . His approach was  more of a practical one.
"If we've got this extraordinary diversity on this globe it seems awfully silly for us to destroy it. All these other creatures have an equal right to exist here, we have no prior rights to the Earth than anybody else and if they're here let's give them a chance to survive," he told the BBC. He also said he was more concerned with "the conservation of nature" rather than being a "bunny hugger," which is the term he used to describe animal lovers.Which he certainly was not because he killed animals for sport and fun. He also believed that the main environmental crisis the Earth faces is overpopulation, for which he once suggested a possible solution: voluntary family limitation. Bloody hell!.
Well now his time has finally come. And though no huge admirer, he might not have been captain of the ship he  married into, but he steered the Crown through the turbulent years of the postwar years. He will be missed as a husband, a father, grandfather and great grandfather.
There will be no state funeral for the duke. The College of Arms, which is responsible for helping to arrange state events and ceremonials, said that his body instead would “lie at rest in Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral in St George’s Chapel”.
 The death of the controversial divisive Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh  certainly marks the end of a chapter not just for the British royal family – but for European monarchy itself. Surely it's now time for the Queen to retire and Britain  to call a referendum of whether we really want Charles to be our head of state, or time to abolish the monarchy  all together, and end these symbols of power and privilege once and for all. 

No comments:

Post a comment