Many tributes and messages of condolence have been made since the His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh who died yesterday.
Our own Archbishop John Wilson wrote:
“On behalf of the Catholic Community of the Archdiocese of Southwark, I wish to express my profound sorrow at the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. In union with the entire nation, we mourn the loss of not only an esteemed and respected member of the Royal Family, but also a man who exemplified the very best qualities of courage, fortitude and loyalty. Although born into a very different world, his example and witness leave us, here in this present age, with a lasting and enduring legacy of the timeless paradigm of duty and service. In this season of Eastertide, when we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and his victory over death, we pray that His Royal Highness will rest in peace and rise in glory. We also remember in our prayers Her Majesty the Queen and all members of the Royal Family at this sad time, offering to them our sincerest condolences.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster wrote:
“At this moment of sadness and loss I pray for the repose of the soul of Prince Philip, Her Majesty the Queen’s faithful and loyal husband. I pray for The Queen and all of the Royal Family”.
The catholic journalist Catherine Pepinster observed that the Cardinal’s words reflect what we believe as Catholics – that the person who has died may still be prayed for, while other Christian denominations tend to focus entirely on cathedral events the bereaved and on thanksgiving for a life well-lived.
Prince Philip was baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church at St George’s Church in the Old Fortress in Corfu. They say he retained an abiding sympathy and love for Orthodoxy all his life. His mother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, became an Orthodox nun after she was widowed in 1944, was eventually laid to rest in the Russian Orthodox Convent on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Prince Philip’s great aunt is also buried there: the Russian Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Feodorovna, founder of an order of Orthodox nuns, was murdered by Bolsheviks in Russia in 1918 and canonised in 1981.
Prince Philip had a passion for the environment and interfaith dialogue and in 1986 he brought these two issues together when he invited faith leaders to a summit in Assisi to discuss the care of the planet.
O God in whose presence the dead are alive
and in whom your saints rejoice full of happiness,
grant our supplication, that your servant Philip,
for who the fleeting light of this world shines no more,
may enjoy the comfort of your light for all eternity
Featured image by Allan Warren, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons