It is turning out to be a very Royal season. First there was the wedding of William and Kate. Zara Phillips's wedding follows in July. And to be published shortly are two new biographies, the first one of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, and the other one of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (at left). The narrative of Prince Philip's early life tends to be obscured by the unceasing hostility and hysterical hate-campaign directed at him by the modern tabloid establishment. But no matter: he stands apart and endures, a lesson to us all. He is easily one of the most appealing members of the Royal Family, largely due to his wit, outspokenness, dress sense, and classic hairstyle, at least for me, as well as the unique challenges faced as a young man. But of course there is much more to it than that, as Philip Eade reveals in his new book. From Peter Oborne's column in The Daily Telegraph last week:
The colossal importance of the Duke of Edinburgh, who celebrates his 90th birthday next week, is that he has defied the spirit of his time. This is why, for most of his adult life, he has been forced to endure such hostility and contempt. In the 1960s, satirists portrayed him as a member of a bankrupt establishment. The state socialists who ran Britain in the 1970s despised the Duke as a symbol of ruling-class domination. The New Right that came to power in the 1980s could not understand him at all. He was not for sale, he was not efficient, and he was not driven by the profit motive, yet he could not really be classified as part of the public sector. He appeared to have no purpose.
It is very easy to say what he stands for: duty, service, discretion, kindness, concern, eccentricity. His commitment to the cause has been exemplary. Until last year, when he cut down for health reasons, he was still carrying out well over 300 engagements a year. No wonder the political and media classes that have gradually taken control of Britain over the past few decades have so much contempt for the Duke. Disinterested public service fits in neither with the Right-wing narrative of private enterprise nor New Labour’s conception of a centralised, domineering political class.