The End of an Era: HRH Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021

I was deeply saddened on Friday to hear of the passing of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Philip was an icon, a great friend to Canada and a great gentleman.

To Her Majesty, Philip was more than a royal icon. He was the man she loved. The man who had been by her side for 73 years of marriage.

Said the Queen:

“He has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”

Like many Canadians, and commonwealth subjects the world over, the Queen and Prince Philip have been a constant throughout my entire life. The Queen has always been the Queen, and Philip has always been there, respectfully, walking two steps behind.

Prince Philip was a man of humility, charm and humor—whose lack of political correctness I often found to be a welcome breath of fresh air.

Making his first official visit to Canada in 1951—with then Princess Elizabeth on her first Canadian tour—he would go on to visit Canada on more than 60 occasions.

Many of these visits were on behalf of the 38 Canadian public service groups, charities and military organizations he was patron of.

Prince Philip had a special love and respect for Canada, which began when he served as a naval officer in WWII and was impressed with the bravery of Canadian troops as they landed at Sicily.

One special mission for Prince Philip was encouraging personal achievement among young people. In his statement of condolence Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole noted that, since its inception in 1963, more than half a million Canadians have practiced excellence and learned about service and good citizenship through the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

Her Majesty the Queen, and Prince Philip with her, have always lived a life of committed service to their people.

Despite having his own career as a naval officer, when his wife ascended the throne in 1952, Prince Philip recognized his life was now about one thing: supporting his wife in her duty to God and to her people. As he swore at her coronation, he would be her “liege man of life and limb.”

As one journalist pointed out last week, that made him a rarity in public life—then and now— the man walking two steps behind his wife.

Prince Philip’s loss will be felt, deeply, by Canadians.

As my Leader stated:

“A great man is gone. What remains is Prince Philip’s example for steadfast service during a life of obligation, and a legacy of discreetly performed good works through which our country will be blessed for years to come.”

My thoughts and prayers, and the thoughts and prayers of Canadians, are with Her Majesty and her family, as we grieve his loss, together.

God save the Queen.