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Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Friday April 9, 2021. He was two months shy of his 100 birthday. There have been outpourings of grief, tributes and reflections from around the world, including from Guyana. Though Guyana gained full independence from Britain, on the achievement of Republican status on February 23, 1970, Britain still remains part of Guyana.
Our Westminster system of government, legislature, judiciary and public sector are in large part influenced by the British. They have been the longest European power to claim dominion of this land, thereby having the greatest impact on the lives of Guyanese. Our official language (spoken and written), dress code, decorum, etiquette, taste, culture and so many other facets of our lives have been shaped and influenced by the British.
Queen Elizabeth II has been a staple in the life of the peoples of the Commonwealth countries, of which Guyana is a member. She still remains Head of State for many of Guyana’s sister Caribbean countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Her marriage to Prince Philips, which spanned more than seven decades, of those years, for almost seventeen, she was Guyana’s Head of State.
Undoubtedly Prince Philips, in spite of royal protocol of him always having to be one step behind the Queen, played a pivotal role in her almost 70-year reign. It is a reign, which she ascended at the relatively young age of 27, with the sudden passing of her father, King George V in 1953, she has grown into with grace and class. She has held the Commonwealth, which comprises diverse cultures, together and also seems willing to lend a compassionate ear.
Prince Philip gave up a promising life at sea, as a navy officer, to stand beside (behind) his love, and provided needed support in helping her manage family, the sprawling Empire and charities she presides over. It said much of him as a man, in a so-called man’s world, to accept a public role that also included respecting royal protocol and bowing to his wife.
As the Queen mourns and adjusts to a new life without the love of her life, her husband, ally and trusted friend, the one who was probably the only person on earth that knew her best, people will proverbially wrap their arms around her. It is rare when the Queen is in such a vulnerable position, but no doubt with the outpouring of love, tributes and sentiments the world will protect her through what arguably is one of the most vulnerable periods in her reign.