Gyles Brandreth on the end of an era as Prince Philip retires
A flurry of nostalgia greeted the news last week that Prince Philip was finally retiring from public duties at the age of 96 and one couldn’t help feeling that this was at least the beginning of the end of an era.
Never mind the sometimes embarrassing un-PC gaffs that have kept the tabloid press entertained for decades, the Duke of Edinburgh remains a reminder of more stable and optimistic times. He has been royal consort since 1952, a point in our history where as a nation we were just starting our journey into the postwar boom years.
He may represent a patrician presence and a reminder of stiff upper-lipped repression but oddly we are going to miss him. Not I hasten to add that he is actually going anywhere. He’ll still accompany the Queen on official engagements but he will not be in the forefront anymore.
And as he completed solo engagement number 22,219 in the company of a Royal Marines military parade outside Buckingham Palace last week the media were busy compiling tributes and memories.
It was good to see that a major contributor was his biographer our good friend Gyles Brandreth who probably knows the Prince better than most.
He made it clear that the 96-year-old has remained true to himself as the modern Royal ‘soap opera’ has gradually evolved. As the Prince doffed his bowler hat one final time we were confronted with a man who while he doesn’t approve of all this hands-on, touchy, feely stuff, accepts that the 21st century royals have to do it their way.