Prince Philip's life of service is worthy of honour

DEDICAtion: No-one can deny the Duke of Edinburgh's lifelong commitment to service. Picture: Travers Lewis/Shutterstock
DEDICAtion: No-one can deny the Duke of Edinburgh's lifelong commitment to service. Picture: Travers Lewis/Shutterstock

In the days since His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh passed away at Windsor Castle, I have seen countless articles and online posts characterising him across the spectrum of saint to villain.

Both mainstream and social media has once again proven to be a place of extremes featuring either genuine messages of condolence and remembrance, or using the news of the Duke of Edinburgh's passing as a reason to march out his famous gaffes as cheap shots at a man who didn't really give a fig about political correctness when he was here, let alone now he's shuffled off the edge of the mortal coil.

However, in my opinion, it is indeed a cheap shot, as the only people such poor-taste reporting and trolling can hurt are those in mourning for his loss. And no one should be made to bear that.

Let us not forget that the Duke of Edinburgh's life was a life of service: 70 years of service, not just to Her Majesty The Queen, but to his country and the commonwealth.

He joined the British Royal Navy as a cadet the year World War II broke out, and spent six months serving as a Midshipman aboard a battleship in the Indian Ocean.

He was promoted to sub-lieutenant and then became HMS Wallace's First Lieutenant at just 21 years of age.

By 31, he had been promoted to commander and had a successful naval career already behind him, when he was forced to give that up upon the death of his father-in-law, King George VI.

The loss of one's career can impact a person deeply - it affects your identity, how others perceive you, your confidence - personally and professionally, and your sense of control over your own destiny.

Feeling disempowered can drastically impact your mental health, your relationships and how you see your place in the world.

But to have to go through all of this in front of the entire world and as a man in the 1950s, no less? I cannot imagine this was an easy transition.

Despite no longer on active duty, the Duke of Edinburgh's passion for the navy and support for the Armed Forces is well-known.

My own grandfather, Jim Kermode MBE, had the privilege of guiding the Queen and Duke around the Welsh Brigade Depot in the 1960s and again at a different posting the Duke played darts against him - and wasn't winning - much to the horror of my grandfather's commanding officer.

Let's not forget that the Duke has long since been involved with raising awareness of the relationship between humanity and the environment, and he has been committed to contributing to and improving British industrial life.

He founded the World Wildlife Fund and The Duke of Edinburgh Award, he attended 22,219 royal engagements across almost seven decades, equalling more than 317 events a year on average, he made 223 visits to 67 Commonwealth countries, he has authored 14 books and he championed science and technology, long before STEM made such an endeavour "cool".

The Duke didn't retire from public life until he was 96 years old - no-one can refute his commitment to service.

Perhaps most importantly from an historical perspective, the Duke has been a driving force behind the modernisation of the Royal Family and looked to increase the people's accessibility to them, starting with insisting on televising the Queen's coronation in 1953.

He was the first person to have computers in his office at Buckingham Palace, the first family member to be interviewed on television, and he worked hard to present a more human and relatable image of the Royal Family to the world.

Perhaps this is the greatest irony of this situation: that the Duke invited us in and we handpicked what we wanted to see and ran with it.

AP News declared that Prince Philip's life had been "defined by [his] role of husband to the British Queen". However, I do not think this was the case.

Rather, I think he defined his role in the monarchy like no other consort before him, and in doing so, he ensured that his Queen and country were his first, second and third focus in this world.

He was not just a husband; he was also an advisor, a companion, a leader, a commander. And he should be remembered for that. Vale.

Zoë Wundenberg is a careers consultant and un/employment advocateat impressability.com.au. Twitter: @ZoeWundenberg

This story Prince Philip's life of service is worthy of honour first appeared on The Canberra Times.