I’ve had the unique ability to observe and learn about life from Prince Philip for the past 13 years.
Prince Philip was born in Greece. He grew up with little family structure. A boy who at times had no permanent address. In some ways he was an orphan, having to learn to fend for himself.
Philip had to learn not to complain, to accept the “hand he was dealt” and to get on with life. He was quoted during a BBC interview, “I reckon I just did my bit for my wife, the Queen, and my country."
Whether you knew Prince Philip from The History Channel or from the newspapers, as a historical character he did things his way.
A rugged exterior sometimes saying things he regretted, he listened to people, he tried to put people at ease and he knew how to read a room.
We are all average Joes at the end of the day, just trying to do our part.
That was Prince Philip’s philosophy and he did just that.
I remember seeing Prince Philip at the London Transportation Museum in Covent Garden, London. You would think police would have blocked off streets before he arrived. Preventing the public from not getting too close. Yet when he arrived, that’s not what happened. He showed up in an in an unmarked vehicle, hopped out of the car and walked in. No fuss, no big deal. In fact, he was known to drive around London in a green cab. Just a regular guy, at times not wanting to be noticed.
I observed him from afar at Windsor, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and at Royal Ascot. The Super Bowl of horse racing in the UK. Who goes to the race track in a morning suit? We did. He was known to have hated horse racing. But he went for his wife, the Queen. At times he reportedly slipped away from the royal box to a small room to watch a bit of cricket or to work on correspondence. Like many of us, he went for his wife.
On June 2, 1953, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, he took an oath at Westminster Abbey, “I, Philip Duke of Edinburgh, become your liege man, body and soul, life and death, with the help of G-d.”
Isn’t that what life is all about? Whether it is your partner in life, your husband or wife, we all make a promise. I will be your wingman.
In an age when men just didn’t put their wife’s career first, Prince Philip did. He ended his naval career for her.
Are you willing to take a backseat to someone else? Putting your own ego in check while being secure in who you are as a team. Sometimes we are the followers and sometimes we are the leaders. It doesn’t matter, as long as you can stand as one, a unified team.
You may have no reason to care about the royal family and you might believe that they don’t serve a useful purpose. You might think, I’m done listening to the drivel about Meghan and Harry.
As Prince Philip revealed to Gyles Brandreth, his official biographer, he thought the Harry and Meghan interview was “madness” and “no good would come of it.” But, he went on to say that he understood his grandson’s frustration with the press, and told the biographer, “It’s his life.”
A final lesson for all of us, in voicing a family opinion, but understanding that even grandchildren have to find their own way.
What have we learned from Prince Philip? Helping others is a responsibility for all of us. Putting “our person” ahead of ourselves, being loyal to a fault makes us successful and giving our children the ability to find their way even if through missteps they can become stronger. Final lesson learned. You can always recreate yourself. It is not about me, instead it’s about WE!