Twitter was on fine form last week… I wasted at least an hour on Thursday morning, hitting refresh over and over as I waited for an announcement from Buckingham Palace.
One can only assume that countless emergency staff meetings are called at late notice within those walls but, somehow and for reasons quite unknown, the news of this meeting reached the world’s press. Twitter went into meltdown with so much speculation and blind panic that a pre-announcement had to be made; we were all assured that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were in good health.
Thank feck for that.
As soon as I descended into the Twitterverse over my morning cuppa, my initial worry was for the Duke. I genuinely believe that the departure of our gracious Queen will be heralded by rolling black clouds and the riding of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, so I was not concerned for the Queen. She is entirely fabulous and full of life, as I hope she will continue forever.
Prince Philip is different; he is human. Very much so. He frequently says the wrong (OK, often downright inappropriate) thing much like every elderly male relative you have ever had. You have had at least one. They sometimes say things that make you gasp or roll your eyes or choke on your Sunday roast… but you love them anyway. He is the nation’s cheeky Grandad.
This year, the Queen and Prince Philip will celebrate 70 years of marriage and, throughout their marriage, The Duke of Edinburgh has been a vital part of everything that the Queen does and everything that she is. He has been at her side, walking a few paces behind, come hell or high water (quite literally at the 2012 Jubilee Thames flotilla!) from day one of her glorious reign. He has been a moderniser, an innovator, a pioneer and a welcome source of comic relief if the countless pictures of the Queen giggling with him are anything to go by.
I cannot help but imagine Prince Philip roaring with laughter as the media frenzy of speculation whirled around the Palace gates last week. I imagine his response to The Sun’s accidental release of an early draft announcement of his death being met with a smile and a “f*ck off, I’m not dead.” To see someone of such advanced years so full of life is a constant joy.
A well-deserved retirement from public duty (save those special occasions) was the eventual announcement and I was thrilled to see the out-pouring of love and respect for this wonderful man that I previously assumed would only come after he had passed. Of course, by that time it would be too late for the man himself to know how loved and appreciated he is as ‘the man behind the woman’ and for all that he has achieved in his own right – notably The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, his work to highlight environmental issues, and establishing the Royal Family’s relationship with broadcast media.
So I would love to bake a cake for The Duke of Edinburgh to celebrate his retirement. I very much doubt that he will slow down much at all.