Prince Philip and Prince Harry

The recent death of Prince Philip gives us cause to reflect on the passing of one generation of royalty, and the posture of another. Prince Philip was born in 1921. His father was a member of the Greek (and Danish) royal family; his grandfather a Greek King. Philip’s mother was born at Windsor Castle, having connections to Queen Victoria.

Philip had a difficult upbringing. His family was banished from Greece. From age one Philip was technically stateless. His sister’s married into German royalty. This too would cause problems given the World Wars revolved around Germany. His mother suffered from schizophrenia and was committed to an institution when Philip was aged nine. Aged 10, he was alone.

In 1939 he joined the Royal Navy, and served in WWII. In 1947 he married Elizabeth, and she became Queen in 1953.

Prince Philip spent most of his life serving his adopted country, and his wife – the queen. He travelled to visit commonwealth nations regularly. He served and supported many charities.

Originally an outsider himself, who found his way into ‘the firm’ by loyal service and sacrifice, Philip was apparently welcoming to newcomers like Dianna and Meghan. But he could also be harsh on those who lacked loyalty; who did not play the role of a royal.

In short, Philip perceived himself as but one cog of something bigger, and he fulfilled his role with duty and determination. He found himself by looking outward to the system and marriage he found himself in.

Harry, two generations younger, is cut from a different cloth. For him, duty and service cramp your style. Harry is from a generation that looks inwards. As he gets in touch with his love (Meghan) and his passions, unencumbered by duty, so he believes he will find his true self.

For all his weaknesses, Philip was a man who, despite a difficult start to life, found himself by looking outwards and serving his queen, country, commonwealth, and charities. Harry, to me at least, appears to be a young man who, despite his privileged start to life (yes, with difficulties too), looks increasingly lost as he seeks to define himself apart from his family and duties.

Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister

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