End of era with generation that exemplified the best of the best

My loving parents during the six weeks they met and married and then didn’t see each other for four years.

My loving parents during the six weeks they met and married and then didn’t see each other for four years. - Credit: Sally Allen

Like a vast number of other people, on Saturday I was deeply moved by the music and the memories evoked by the funeral of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Also, like so many others, it brought the heart-breaking personal losses of the past flooding back into vivid focus.

The pain was intense and on hearing ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’ and ‘Nimrod’ feelings naturally intensified.

I was extremely fortunate to meet Prince Philip on a couple of occasions due to my fundraising for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Scheme and being a trustee of the Lord’s Taverners charity of which he was 12th Man.

He was wonderful fun with a well-documented sparkling wit. He was, of course, so much more.

His generation, who had lived through World War Two, had deep and fine values hard earned through depravation and loss of loved ones on a mammoth scale.

This, together with the different values of an earlier time, instilled a deep appreciation of everything and everyone around them and a very deep sense of duty – all qualities in scarce supply in today’s world.

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Stoicism is a quality that Prince Philip had in spades, clearly honed out of great adversity as a child.

There was little time for whinging in the old days – survival was all important and this traversed all classes and monetary values. Hence the well-known mantras ‘never complain, never explain’ and ‘get on with the job’. 

Prince Philip, Sir Tom Moore and so very many others, now long gone, have exemplified the best of the best.

It was tragic to see the very frail figure of the Queen so alone.

The cruel separation and loneliness so many have suffered during this pandemic is now to be endured by another elderly lady after 73 years of being in a close, loving and supportive relationship with her husband.

I remember, as if it were yesterday, the tragic death of my father when he was just 60 years old, and my mother totally devastated at only 51.

I was just 21 years old and was immediately catapulted into the ‘mother role’ as my mother had always relied on my father for everything – as women did in those days.

We all need a support system to help us cope in normal circumstances. Death of a dearly loved friend or family member can get us spiralling out of control.

The image of the Queen sat all alone will no doubt stay with us all as a poignant manifestation of solitary grief. 

Over the last couple of days, we also heard the tragic news that the exceptionally talented and much-loved Helen McCrory tragically died at 52 – way before her time. Leaving a devastated husband, Damian Lewis and two teenage children. Old or young it is never the right time. 

Prince Philip’s beautifully crafted and extremely emotional funeral evoked the mourning of all those we have lost before, together with those sadly taken during the pandemic, when we were unable to attend funerals or comfort each other.

Family and friends are all. Life is far too short for grudges or bad feeling - for too soon the moments are gone forever.

I have long held the view that it should be flowers before death and not at funerals and very importantly, if you can take time off work to attend a funeral – surely it is better to take the time off while someone is alive to visit them and share time with them so they can enjoy it too.

Sadly, we have been unable to do either during lockdown but never put off a visit to a friend or family once things get back to normal.

Enjoy the moment and help others to as well.