The news has recently come out that one of the mainstays of the British Royal Family is hanging it up. At age 95, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has decided that he is going to retire and have a reduced public calendar. You kind of get the feeling if he could pull off a resignation like Pope Benedict XVI did a few years back, he would do that. But then again, it’s kind of hard to resign from a job that doesn’t really exist.
Don’t get me wrong, being the husband of Queen Elizabeth II must come with some sense of obligation. There is always a ribbon cut to somewhere or some boat to christen across the commonwealth. And I am sure if the Queen is busy, Prince Philip makes a nice consolation prize.
But, in reality the Prince can’t stop being Prince while he graces England’s green and pleasant land. We can recall when Royal relationships such as Prince Charles and Princess Diana and Prince Andrew and Princess Sarah. Even though Diana and Sarah were divorced from the family, they still kept some of their Royal titles and I am sure with that, some of the lifestyles they became accustomed were still subsidized by the British people.
This whole topic made me think about how both Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II are probably right in the middle of their twilight years. Philip is 95, Queen Elizabeth II is 91. As of right now, she is currently the longest reigning monarch in the world and she has held the British Crown longer than anyone else.
Queen Elizabeth II has been queen since February 1952. Over 65 years. She has without a doubt overseen some of the greatest political and technological changes the world has ever seen. Her coronation in 1953 was televised in color; a remarkable feat for the time. Just to make sure her subjects in Canada could see the event, the color tape was rushed via airplane from London to Montreal to be played on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation later the same day it occurred. Right now, I have access to color videos on a handheld cell phone. Yeah, times have changed.
Politically she has reigned through thirteen British Prime ministers, twelve Canadian counterparts and another fourteen from Australia. There are countless dozens from other countries that are part of the realm.
She has also seen the commonwealth shrink. There was a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. Well, those days are behind her. Many of the colonies of Great Britain gained independence under her watch. And even those countries that are in the commonwealth have relegated the Monarch’s role to ribbon-cutter and speech-giver in chief.
She has been queen so long. I would dare say 70 percent of Britons have never known a monarch other than Queen Elizabeth. I mean, it has been at least 65 years since George VI was in charge.
And for all of those 65 years, it hasn’t been easy for the Queen. Not only was the face of dignity and class for her country, she had to do it while raising four children, three of whom would be divorced as adults and navigating such sticky situations as wars, depressions and crises came and gone.
Yet, there will come a day when the Queen takes her last breath and she will no longer be with us and that will be a very sad day. I am sure the world will properly mourn the monarch and will rightfully wonder about the future.
How will the world look to the new king? Prince Charles himself is next in line and at age 68, the United Kingdom will more than likely have a monarch that won’t be around as long as Queen Elizabeth II.
But, let’s just cut to the chase. Wouldn’t the monarchy be better served if they just skipped Charles and went directly to Prince William to be the next king? William the father of the young family could grow in the role and at age 34, we would still have a good five decades in him.
What more is there to say? God Save the Queen.
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.