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The lasting lesson from the late Prince Philip


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Cerith Gardiner - published on 04/17/21

His quiet act of kindness is a reminder that we shouldn't be so quick to judge.

The news has been full of the late Duke of Edinburgh over the last week in the lead up to his funeral today. There has been a myriad of positive stories being shared of his achievements as a naval officer. His lesser known achievements as the founder of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, which allowed countless youth to turn their lives around, have also come to light — as well as his sense of duty towards his adopted country and his family.

All these stories have made for some pleasant reading, particularly after the negative press the former consort to Queen Elizabeth II was so often associated with. And it’s a reminder to us all that as a society we’re often quick to criticize without knowing the person, or all the facts.

A delicate act of compassion

One particular story demonstrates the sort of person Price Philip was behind that ramrod posture. The story was shared in the autobiography of former politician Norman Tebbit, whose wife was gravely injured in the IRA bombings at the Brighton Hotel in 1984.

He explains that he and his wife were due to participate in a State Dinner at Buckingham Palace. His wife, Margaret, was in distress as she found eating with a knife and fork particularly difficult. Tebbit phoned the palace to explain the situation, and they assured him all would be well.

Margaret, who needed a wheelchair as she was severely paralyzed, was seated next to the duke. Her first reaction was naturally one of stress. However, as the food appeared Prince Philip passed his cutlery to a footman and started to eat with his hands. Margaret then felt at ease eating with her hands as well. The rest of the food was served to make finger eating possible — a discreet act of kindness that sums up the compassion of the duke.

Further tales of his quiet thoughtfulness have also emerged, and it’s important these stories are shared. They are a perfect reminder not only of how, as Christians, we remember the dead for the best of who they were, but also that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge or criticize others, in life or in death. Our duty is to pray for their souls.

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