Some reports about Prince Philip's recent stay at a hospital for a chest infection have included a biography of his life, sounding like a preliminary obituary, ready to replace the 'Prince Philip is' with 'Prince Philip was'. At the age of 86 and currently the oldest member of the royal family, media outlets are gearing up for the inevitable. Indeed, many have already prepared obituaries, not only for the royal family but for other public figures. Morbid efficiency at it's finest.
I don't wish ill on anyone. People don't like to discuss death. But when any member of the royal family dies it is a big event. The equivalent of hitting the jackpot. "The British do death rather well" is one quote I've heard over the years. Planned down to the last detail, even the royals themselves are masters of morbid efficiency. Nothing is left to chance. That is, until Diana died, and then everything was thrown into chaos.
Other than a U.S. President/ex-president, no one marks death on such a major scale like royalty. With the masses suffering from inescapable media coverage, they go outside, gather, lay floral bouquets, and sign condolence books which will be archived unread. Comparisons to Queen Victoria's widowhood will be made. Majesty magazine will have a special issue. The Republican movement will have their slingshots, BB guns and petition forms out. Horse drawn corteges rumble through the streets, and close-ups of royal grief will be analysed. Prince Philip's controversial sayings will be poured over; sadly defining a life lived in the spotlight for 60 years. It may not be what Prince Philip would have wanted, but will people settle for anything less than that for the longest serving royal consort?
Maybe this article is premature. But mark my words, it will happen.
© Marilyn Braun 2008
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