DEATH, a permanent, irreversible cessation of all biological functions of a living organism comes with a change of breath. Sometimes slowly. Other times, speeding up, noisy, and shallow. The meagre and affluent; slave and free; subjects and kings must bow to the final strokes that signal the end of life. On 9th of April 2021, the world received the shocking news of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron of Greenwich, and Consort of the British Monarch. The Queen of England, Elizabeth II, draped in a black coat dress and a matching face mask with white trimmings stood alone and resilient, watched as her husband of 73 years was lowered into the Royal Vault beneath St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on 17th April 2021. The Queen, no doubt, has enormous powers and influence in the Buckingham Palace, the United Kingdom, and the world at large. The Queen, her household, the palace with 775 rooms with a garden considered the largest private garden in London aresome of the most secured and guided people, and seat of power in the world. They are also focal points for British people.
Elizabeth Alexander Mary, the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realm which comprises 15 countries from 1952 till date had powers over more than 21 countries before some of them gained independence. She can suspend and summon the elected parliament, declare wars, and appoint the elected Prime Minister after a general election or resignation. She can also issue and control passports, appoint and remove ministers representing the Crown, assent to bills into law, control the British armed forces, commission and remove officers joining the armed forces, bestow or remove titles, knighthood, and peerages on anyone she likes. Meanwhile, she is immune from any form of prosecution. She is above the law. All powers and laws are exercised on her behalf, in her name, and under the power of the crown by Her Majesty’s Ministers.
The Queen lived with Late Prince Philip till his death on the 9th of April 2021. After she ascended the throne, the Queen demanded that the duke was to have “place, pre-eminence, and precedence” next to her “on all occasions and in all meetings” except where otherwise provided by the act of Parliament. The Prince enjoyed this privilege till his death. He was reported to have broken the news of George VI’s death to her on 6th February 1952, completed 22,219 solo engagements, and 5,493 speeches since 1952 until he retired from royal duties on the 2nd of August, 2017. He was the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch and the longest-lived male member of the British Royal Family. The Prince was a patron, president, and member of over 780 organisations. He truly lived.
The Queen and Duke were said to have had a strong relationship throughout their marriage. This is evidenced by the Queen’s reference to the Duke as her constant strength and guide. This does not mean they did not have issues while performing their roles as royal couples like every other person. For instance, the Duke was said to have complained that ‘’I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children’’ when the Queen, on the 9th of April 1952, issued a declaration that Windsor would continue to be the name of the royal house. Prince Philip, on the other hand, had expected and favoured his surname in line with the custom of a wife taking her husband’s surname on marriage.
On 17th April 2021, the Queen sat alone in St. George’s Chapel facing the coffin of Late Prince Philip. Many of his titles were proclaimed. His coffin draped with a personal flag with his sword, a naval cap, a wreath and a letter from the queen on it was lowered into the royal vault. The pipe major of the Royal Regiment of Scotland played a lament. Afterwards, the queen stood up and walked slowly out of the chapel without a public display of emotions. The Duke is late, and the Queen grieves just like any other human.
- Adekola is a Legal Practitioner, and Head, Probate Services, Greenwich Registrars and Data Solutions Limited.
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