He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments, but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years[1] – Queen Elizabeth

In His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip’s passing, the world have lost a model of a husband for a ‘working couple’ and royalty. God did not only made Prince Philip a man, “a helper suitable for him,” God made him a helper, a counterpart, a working partner, a complement, and assistance suitable for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years (Gen 2:18, 24). Prince Philip remains a testimony of God’s faithfulness that the Queen have seen with ‘strength from the message of hope in Christian gospel.’[2] Their marriage remains an example of obedience, how to make good our vows, and a call to true mission of marriage as a vocation and not a hobby.[3] Using the words of the Queen, in the midst of ‘rhetoric or the conflicting currents of public opinion. … I have done my best, with Prince Philip’s constant love and help, to interpret it correctly through the years of our marriage and of my reign as your Queen.’[4] Abraham Lincoln’s timeless truth and simple words, ‘The strength of a nation lies in the home of its people,’ is exemplified in the monarchy’s home and marriage.[5]

Prince Philip’s constant love and help to the Queen until his transition after 73 years of marriage points to the union of husband and wife as symbolic of Christ and the Church (Eph 5:21-33, Phil 2:3). Indeed, Prince Philip loved The Queen as his own body just as Christ loves the Church. According to The Queen, ‘All too often, I fear, Prince Philip has had to listen to me speaking. Frequently we have discussed my intended speech beforehand and, as you will imagine, his views have been expressed in a forthright manner. He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.’[6] Debt first covers sinners being debtors to God. Debt is also both financial and non-financial owing, as in “mortgage debt” and “debt of gratitude.” ‘A debt’ we owe Prince Philip is in “debt of gratitude.” The Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his tribute described Prince Philip as the ‘father of the nation’ who “made this country a better place.” According to Boris Johnson, Prince Philip will be conveyed in his self designed Land Rover to his final resting place on Saturday 17th April, 2021. The ‘vehicle’s unique and idiosyncratic silhouette reminds the world that he (Prince Philip) was above all a practical man, who could take something very traditional – whether a machine or, indeed, a great national institution – and find a way by his own ingenuity to improve it, to adapt it for the 20th and 21st century.’[7] Prince Philip, ‘through his achievements including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, had touched the lives of millions of people.’ The attitude of being a debtor is a key to being a grateful person or nation hence, a debt of gratitude we owe Prince Philip defines him as a model of “selflessness and putting others before ourselves.” We are not oblivious to Prince Philip’s place as the father of the nation and according to the House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the duke “never let the Queen down.”

In the words of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, God sought and found a man in Prince Philip ‘a man of many titles, … Lord High Admiral, a royal commander, Baron of Greenwich’ who made up the hedge as ‘a much loved father, grandfather and great grandfather’(Ezk 22:30). Prince Philip as a model of a husband and fatherhood beyond headship privilege or control in the family points to marriage as a sacred relationship, instituted by God before sin entered the world.[8] Prince Philip, as a model of a husband suggests a call to responsibility with the Heavenly Father’s heart. Without the Father’s heart, paradise becomes a desert. Prince Philip did not only supported the Queen, he was ‘a symbol of the nation we hope to be at our best. A source of stability. A rock.’

Queen Elizabeth description of her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in 1997 on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary encapsulates the Prince’s constant sense of modesty as a husband and the patriarch of the British royal family. The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd John Davies aptly described Prince Philip as a “rock in the life of the Queen.” Indeed, Prince Philip had lived a life rooted in service and duty both to the Queen and to others. In the words of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Prince Philip is known for his “selfless service to the country” and career in the Royal Navy during World War II. Prince Philip who just retired from official royal duties in 2017 at the age of 96 has accompanied ‘the queen on all 251 of her official overseas visits over the decades … completed more than 22,000 solo engagements since 1952, chiefly as patron to 785 organisations.’

Prince Philip Mountbatten was a Greek-born son of Prince Andrew of Greece. After attending boarding school in Scotland, Prince Philip went to training at the Darmouth Naval College at age 18. His grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg after deserting Germany in the 1st World War and became the UK ‘First Sea Lord and his uncle Lord Mountbatten (Anglicised version of Battenburg) was an Admiral in the Navy.’ Prince Philip after his training ‘was thrust into the war, firstly against Italy in the Mediterranean and then in the Pacific against the Japanese. His ships were very active and it was very dangerous.    He was one of the large number of young men who risked their lives to save this country from being overrun, mostly in the air in the Battle of Britain, but in his case at sea.’ After the war Prince Philip was given the command of a ship, HMS Magpie, at quite a young age.

During the war, Queen Elizabeth II as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch had been living at Windsor. Nearly a decade before she became queen she became the first female member of the British royal family to joined the female version of the British Armed Forces, Women’s Auxiliary Territory Service (ATS) where she learnt to drive and also to service Army vehicles. Queen Elizabeth underwent a six-week auto mechanic training course at Aldershot in Surrey and she is the last surviving head of state to have serve during World War II.

Queen Elizabeth’s engagement to Prince Philip was announced on July 9, 1947. She married Prince ‘Philip Mountbatten, a Greek-born, dashing young officer in the Royal Navy, who Elizabeth had fallen for at the age of 13.’[9] On their wedding day, November 20, 1947, Prince Philip received the titles Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. As a model of a husband, Prince Philip on his wedding day and in honour to his wife ‘gave up smoking …’[10] When King George VI died at the age of 56 in 1952, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip was left having to support Her Majesty as the longest prince consort, the fifth consort to a ruling British queen. Consorts of previous queens were: King Philip II of Spain, husband to Mary I; William III, husband and co-sovereign to Mary II (although she was nearer to the throne as daughter of James II); Prince George of Denmark, husband of Queen Anne (he was not given a title); and Prince Albert, who became prince consort to Queen Victoria in 1857. Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation ceremony was held in 1953 and in 1957 during their 10th wedding anniversary, the Queen made Prince Philip an official Prince of the United Kingdom. As a husband, he renounced his formal royal titles Prince of Greece and Denmark, to marry Elizabeth.

Two months of turning 100, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh died at Windsor Castle in the early hours of April 9, 2021. It takes a queen to make a king, but The Duke was made a Prince of the United Kingdom in 1957 in obedience to a longstanding royal tradition, yet Prince Philip ‘was the quintessential patriarch and adoring husband, loving father, and grandfather and a solid support for Her Majesty the Queen.’ Prince Philip “on his own terms” passed away “in his own bed” and ‘Queen Elizabeth, his wife of 73 years, was by his side at the end’ at home in Windsor Castle.

In accordance to current Covid guidelines in England, only 30 people, in addition to clergy will be allowed to be present at Prince Philip’s funeral service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Among the Good News as we celebrate Prince Philip is that his funeral will unite what the media and other public opinions try to divide. The funeral will surely become a family celebration among the Queen’s four children and their spouses, the eight grandchildren.  

It takes a whole Bible to make a whole Christian nation and marriage especially at a time of decline, the lost art and spirituality of biblical manliness. Prince Philip’s self-sacrifice rather than self-interest calls for our debt of gratitude. A great husband just doesn’t happen naturally. It takes an obedient heart towards God like Abraham, it takes forgiving heart like Moses, it takes understanding heart like Joseph, it takes a generous heart like Boaz had, it takes a diligent heart like Jacob had, and it takes a call to the true mission of marriage as a vocation as Prince Philip had with the Queen for over seven decades. The world, the church and our homes needs men, fathers like Prince Philip as their ‘strength and stay.’ To pay for our debt of gratitude we owe Prince Philip is to intensify our support and pray without ceasing for the Queen and the royal family. To pay for our debt we owe Prince Philip invites us to follow his footsteps first as a model of a Christian husband and a father, a Christian and home builder, bridge builder in terms of global politics and exemplary leadership. To pay for our debt we owe Prince Philip is to explore the depth of his trust and the Queen in God.

[1] https://www.royal.uk/golden-wedding-speech

[2] Green, Mark, Butcher, Catherin, The Servant Queen and the King she serves (London: Bible Society, HOPE, LICC, 2016), pp. 1, 6

[3] Okegbile, Deji, Sanctifying Marriage To Save the World: The Monarch’s Example of Marriage (London: SADL, 2018), pp.17-21

[4] https://www.royal.uk/golden-wedding-speech

[5] Okegbile, Sanctifying Marriage to Save the World, pp. 9-11

[6] https://www.royal.uk/golden-wedding-speech

[7] https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/boris-johnson-tribute-prince-philip-father-of-the-nation/

[8] Epp, Theodore H, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (Nebraska: A Back to the Bible Publication, 1979), pp. 6-7

[9] https://www.biography.com/news/queen-elizabeth-ii-mechanic-world-war-ii

[10] https://www.biography.com/news/prince-philip-queen-elizabeth-marriage-relationship-sacrifices?li_source=LI&li_medium=m2m-rcw-biography