It is hard to believe that the BBC has apparently received more complaints about their in-depth coverage of the Duke Of Edinburgh’s magnificent 80 year service to our Nation than about any other topic in television history. 120,000 people all told were so dismayed that they had missed the latest episode of their favourite soap opera that they took the trouble to make an official complaint.
That does of course mean that 66 million people or so did NOT complain, and indeed stand resolutely in awe of this great man. I was glad to have the chance to pay my own respects in Parliament on Monday, particularly highlighting three elements of his long and very varied life. First was his Royal Naval and Maritime service. HRH even helped to design the Royal Yacht Britannia; so I suggested that a fitting legacy would be a new multi-purpose Royal Yacht named perhaps “Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.” Second, I touched on the Duke’s visits to South Georgia and Antarctica, and his commitment to wildlife and the environment; and third I spoke of his most enduring legacy - the 6.7 million youngsters from 130 countries whose lives have been transformed by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
The ‘D of E’ was the boyhood inspiration of Wiltshire explorer Sir David Hempleman -Adams who was eventually summonsed up to Windsor to be appointed a Trustee of the scheme. “It’s a great Honour and a Privilege” he said to the Duke. “No its not- It’s a duty. Make sure you know the difference” was the characteristic response. His 100-year life of dutiful service should be an inspiration to us all. HRH’s sheer dogged devotion to duty- the 22,000 solo engagements which he carried out over the years plus vastly more than that in support of Her Majesty; the tens of millions of people whose lives he touched (a survey indicates that 25% of the population of Britain, or about 15/20 million people had either met the Duke, or been present at an event with him.)
By contrast, I was never much of a David Cameron fan, and he seems to have made a total fool of himself (or worse) over his links to disgraced financier Lex Greensill. Is it not such a shame that a political career which began with such gusto and promise should have foundered on the Coalition with the Lib Dems, a failed negotiation with the EU, a botched Brexit Referendum Campaign and now this brewing scandal over money. How are the mighty fallen. The glittering prizes melt if they get too close to the Sun.
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh had every glittering prize- more medals and honours and dignities than you can imagine. He had every piece of wealth and privilege anyone could possibly want, great houses, a yacht, a Royal train, Queen’s flight- you name it. But it was all as nothing to the great man by comparison with that one word- Duty. He did what was right by the Nation, by his family, and above all by Her Majesty the Queen.
So it is good that we pause for a week in our busy lives to pay tribute to a man who can be such an inspiration to us all in so many aspects of our everyday lives. I am looking forward to attending Friday’s service in Salisbury Cathedral to honour the great man; and indeed to watching the funeral on TV on Saturday. Those who care about the BBC’s coverage could instead spend some time learning from his dedication and commitment to duty.