Saturday, 10 April 2021

Do not go gentle

 It was appropriate that Stravinsky's setting of Dylan Thomas's poem to his dying father should have been playing on Radio 3 just as all BBC networks were taken over by the news that Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh, had died. One can imagine few people more likely to rage against the dying of the light than the queen's consort for more than two generations. 

As the tributes from biographers, industry and the environmental movement poured in, we were reminded of what a driven and multi-faceted individual he was. He would have been a remarkable figure in his own right even if had not married into the royal family. One imagines him rising to a high rank within the navy, then retiring but then, still full of vigour, chairing one or more of our great public companies.

Critics remind us of his casual expressions of racial prejudice, something common to people of his generation and class, which he never quite shook off. A greater failing in my view is ironically a reflection of his own strengths - that he failed (possibly through trying too hard) to instil those very attributes in his own sons. As is so often, it was his daughter, the present Princess Royal, who most takes after him, and, as a commentator pointed out, skipping a generation, Prince William very much resembles him.

One expects Queen Elizabeth, out of her oft-expressed sense of duty, not to give up the throne but to soldier on to the end. It will be more difficult without her husband of seventy-three years and ones heart goes out to her.

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