HRH Prince Philip, husband of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II, passed away Thursday at Windsor Castle at age 99. The Prince had been in poor health for some time and the news is not unexpected.
The passing of the man who defined and redefined the role of the Royal consort begins what will become a challenging time of change for the royal family. Queen Elizabeth is 95 and the first in line to the throne Prince Charles is 73. Their respective ages mean that within a short period of time the next generation of the monarchy, roiled recently with the defection of Prince Harry and his wife Megan Markle (who is sometimes quoted by putative judicial candidates in our own circuit), will assume power.
Query: Is the Monarchy still relevant and needed? Is the Monarchy an archaic tradition from a time when gentlemen wore bowlers and morning coats and opened doors for ladies? In this new age of Zoom, Robinhood stock investors, George Floyd inspired social change, and Vegan smoothies, is curtseying to the Monarch something that just doesn't mean anything anymore?
Ageing and irascible, we do not like change. To us the British Monarchy means something good for the world. With all its warts and historical issues, for all the bad there was good. England stood alone in 1939 as Europe fell to the darkness of Nazism. And part of why England stood and persevered was the Monarchy and King George VI who reluctantly assumed the throne when his brother abdicated for the love of Wallace Simpson, an American divorcee. It was King George VI, who suffered from a severe speech impediment and who was forced to use the new technology of radio and address his subjects world wide who found the strength to give millions of subjects of the British Empire the faith and courage to stand firm.
And on June 4, 1940, in the greatest speech of modern history, when Winston Spencer Churchill, the new Prime Minister addressed Parliament, the British Army trapped at Dunkirk and facing annihilation, his own party having lost confidence in his leadership and urging him to sue for peace with Hitler, it was Churchill who stood alone with the British people and thundered that they all would fight on the landing grounds, and in the streets, and on the beaches and in the fields and in the hills and that England would never surrender!!
What is often overlooked from the speech about which John F. Kennedy once said "He marshalled the English language and sent it off into battle" is the peroration, of which there is none finer:
"And if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island, or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would carry on the struggle! Until in God's good time the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the liberation of the old!"
Yes dear readers, let there be no mistake. The World needs the British Empire. Perhaps in these times of uncertainty, emerging Chinese power, pandemics, global warming approaching a tipping point of a crisis, and other unforeseen challenges, the world needs the British Empire and the monarch now more than ever.
Rule Britannia. Britannia rules the waves!