It’s our third consecutive dreary, chilly day in Fort Worth and, frankly, I’m ready for some sunshine. I watched the ceremony for Prince Phillip this morning, and I think, in a great reversal, it was sunnier in England than in Texas.
I viewed the funeral with mixed emotions—the music was gorgeous, and I loved the bagpiper, but then I’m a sucker for the pipes. My Scottish heritage comes out ever time I hear them. But the church (was it a chapel? Cathedral?) was very formal and very dark. It was a blessing that no cameras focused on the few individual mourners—I suppose they were forbidden—but at first, I couldn’t even tell if there were people seated in the pews. And even at a funeral, I expect the clergy to bring some life, some lilt to their presentations. These men—three that I counted—mostly read and mumbled, but then I am not familiar with the Anglican church. My impression is that much of any service follows a prescribed ritual, and there is little room for personal embellishment. The prince had apparently request that there be no eulogy.
Outside, though, the atmosphere was totally different. As the family walked behind the casket to the church, you could see both Prince Charles and Wills struggling to contain their emotions, and as many media sources pointed out, they were no doubt reliving in their minds that grief-laden walk behind Diana’s casket. But when they left the church, they walked with more purpose, and this time Wills and Harry walked together. Of course, there is much speculation about a reconciliation but there has been no word.
My two take-aways from the day: I have now seen that picture of the Queen sitting alone (social distancing), along with many comments about how sad it is, and a couple of ghoulish comments that she would be joining Phillip soon. Don’t count on that, and no, I didn’t find it sad. She is an incredibly strong woman, shaped for years for her position and now having been queen for just shy of sixty-eight years (if my math is any good). She ascended in 1952. She has lived her life for her country, from WWII forward, and while, yes, Phillip was her “stay” as she said, she will carry on with true British grit. And she has family to support her.
A friend of mine just lost her husband, also at the age of ninety-nine, and she wrote a moving essay titled, “He is still here.” By here, she meant the rural farmhouse they have shared for years. I think Phillip is still in the castle.
The other take-away made me smile. One of the clergy (forgive me I can’t sort out which one, but it was a gentleman who apparently knew Phillip well) was later quoted, discussing Phillip’s own plans for his funeral, to the effect that Phillip “liked the broad church, the high church or the low, but best of all, he liked the short church.” And that’s what today’s service was.
Slowly, we are seeing some pictures of the royal couple in casual moments, and they reinforce the idea of a great love and a live well lived together. Today I saw one of the newly crowned queen walking past her husband, she in ceremonial robes and carrying some ceremonial object and he in uniform, and in that solemn and formal moment and setting, they were both grinning, with a twinkle in their eyes. Phillip may have had to walk a pace behind her, but they seem to have been happy equals in the marriage.
At their ages (and mine, although they do have a few years on me) I think what we ask of life is not wonderful new experiences or new loves, but rich and warm memories. I know have them, and I trust so does the queen.
Beyond watching the funeral, it hasn’t been much of a day, though I did write another r profile and almost finished it. Now, it’s nearly seven-thirty, Christian is grilling steak and burgers, and I have done my best to reawaken some very tired asparagus. After supper, I think I’ll read. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Maybe sunshine.