By Lydia O’Kane
The passing of Prince Philip has been described in many quarters as the end of an era, and as tributes continue to pour in from around the world, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols says he leaves behind a legacy of loyalty and steadfast duty.
Speaking of the prince's remarkable life for nearly a hundred years, the Cardinal tells Vatican Radio, “There is a great outpouring of gratitude to the Duke of Edinburgh for his loyalty, for his cheerful sense of duty and for the stability that he and Her Majesty the Queen have given to this country for so many years now.”
Strength and stay
Many of the tributes that have been paid to the Duke have spoken of his lifetime of tireless service to Queen and country. In the Queen’s own words, in a speech to mark their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997, she said, "He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, "I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know."
Cardinal Nichols notes that even though he made many contributions himself in different spheres, “the prince’s primary duty was to be, as Her Majesty said when they celebrated their Diamond Jubilee, her ‘constant support and friend and stalwart’ and that’s what we thank God for, for his life and what he gave to us all, and why we pray today very very much for the Royal Family and of course for Prince Philip and the repose of his soul.”
On the announcement of his passing on Friday, the Union Jack flag over Buckingham Palace was lowered to half-mast. Many people throughout the day have been coming to Windsor Castle to lay flowers in memory of the Duke, while following public health restrictions.
But the Cardinal points out that although a country is in mourning, there is also a family in mourning, who should be the focus of our “empathy, sympathy and prayer. “
It is a family that has seen “so many difficulties,” he says, and now they are facing the loss of a much loved member.
Cardinal Nichols underlines that the prince leaves behind a lasting legacy in the form of his charity work, noting that he was one of the earliest people to talk about the dangers of climate change.
“But all of those things apart, I think the finest tributes that we pay to him are for his generous steadfast loyalty and his cheerful fulfilling of a lifelong duty, and they’re qualities that we need today.”
In a statement, the College of Arms, Britain's heraldic authority, said there would be no state funeral or lying-in-state.
"His Royal Highness’s body will lie at rest in Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral in St George’s Chapel. This is in line with custom and with His Royal Highness’s wishes."