by Niall Gooch
Friday, 9
April 2021
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15:41

Prince Philip embodied the KBO spirit

Representative of the wartime generation, the Duke kept buggering on
by Niall Gooch
Prince Philip served on the HMS Wallace in 1942. Credit: Getty

Late in the evening of 28 March 1941, about a hundred miles off the southern tip of the Greek mainland, a small flotilla of Royal Navy battleships surprised part of the Italian Mediterranean fleet, and inflicted severe damage on it. The encounter formed part of the Battle of Cape Matapan. Among the officers decorated for their role in the action was a young sub-lieutenant from HMS Valiant, Philip Mountbatten, later Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose death has been announced today.

Philip was on active service for almost the entire Second World War, in several theatres, and as many tributes have pointed out, could have risen very high in the post-war Royal Navy, had he not been obliged to withdraw from normal service when his wife became Queen Elizabeth II. It can’t have been easy, for a vigorous and assertive young man, recently appointed to his first command, to take a more quietly supportive and limited role as consort. And yet he did, stepping away from his own career to support his wife.

He never publicly complained about having to take a back row seat in this way. In his generation, for good or ill, such grumbling would be considered self-indulgent and undignified. And I suppose when you have spent long months on North Sea convoys, with constant danger from mines and submarines, or dodging Japanese and Italian dive bombers, very few other duties will seem unbearably onerous. As the Australian cricketer and Second World War pilot Keith Miller once observed, when asked about whether he felt pressure when batting: “Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not”.

The loss of Prince Philip is the loss of one of our last links to a generation where such attitudes were widespread. With the fading from the scene of the wartime generation, we are losing something valuable. I wouldn’t call it stoicism, exactly, but rather the sense that there is great value in just getting on with things and not dwelling on your own troubles or problems, and not inflicting them on other people. Winston Churchill, no stranger to genuine mental health struggles, used the acronym KBO, or Keep Buggering On.

Strikingly, what this doesn’t seem to have meant in Philip’s case is personal insensitivity or harshness. Stories abound of his good treatment of staff and servants, always an important test of a man’s character. Lynwood Restray, an African-American butler at the White House, tells the anecdote of how the Duke of Edinburgh made time for a quiet drink with him during an official reception. It’s well known that, having been one himself, he was kind and supportive to “outsiders” marrying into the royal family, such as Diana or more recently Catherine Middleton and Meghan Markle.

With her husband gone, the Queen now stands almost alone as a standard-bearer for the old Britain, of duty above all, of service and tradition, and quiet humour and determination. There are some in her family who still embody those virtues — Charles and Anne, and in the younger generation the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — but the departure of Philip feels nevertheless like a momentous event, symbolising the end of a particular chapter in British history, and a change in the British character.

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Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago

Sad day indeed, makes me think whatever will happen to our fine country once our Queen too passes. The glue that sticks our country and the commonwealth together. RIP Prince Philip.

Samir Zulfiquar
Samir Zulfiquar
1 year ago

You do realize he would have thought of you as a useless eater right?
He was not shy about advocating the depopulation of the earth, all while living in a palace and flying around in a private jet.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

And he was absolutely right about that. Have you looked at the obscenely explosive rate of population growth in Africa lately? That population bomb was ticking away since the fifties, anyone with more than half a braincell saw where it will lead to if unabated.

Andrew Grant Dutch
Andrew Grant Dutch
1 year ago

You willfully misinterpret what Prince Philip and many others have said on the matter of over-population. Have you heard of the expression “Let’s not speak ill of the dead” ? Prince Philip would have been within his rights to have been as glad if you’d never been born as you appear to be that he is now dead. If you live in the UK, I too would rather you had not been born, at least not here, as your nasty-mindedness is of the kind that will bring this country to its knees.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

An endlessly entertaining man. He didn’t just say what he thought, he said what we thought.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fraser Bailey
Stuart Y
Stuart Y
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

So very true wonderful comment

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
1 year ago

KBO indeed. The wet blankets whinging about everything today are not being bombed or half starved. They weren’t called up to fight and die. They have no idea how fortunate they are.

Geoff H
Geoff H
1 year ago
Reply to  Graeme Laws

And therein lies the rub. They are a molly-coddled vacuous bunch of ‘entitled’ filleted fish with nothing to fight for except their ‘feelings’ and being ‘offended’. Bless.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

He was my favourite royal. A people’s Prince through & through, and a princely handsome one. Sad that he’s gone, and glad too that he lived a long life. Hope his nature comes shining through in one of the great-grandkids.

Samir Zulfiquar
Samir Zulfiquar
1 year ago

A “peoples prince” who thought of everyday people as useless eaters

Kathryn Richards
Kathryn Richards
1 year ago

Is that why he changed the lives of millions of young people for the better?

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago

No he didn’t

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
1 year ago

The Duke of Edinburgh seemed able to train and discipline himself into a role for which he was not ideally suited. I suspect when he married the then Princess Elizabeth he was assuming he would be able to follow his naval career for possibly 20 years, but George VI’s sudden death made that impossible. The fact that he made such a good job of being Prince Consort is testimony to his love for the Queen, his determination and inner strength, his strong sense of duty and indeed his sense of proportion – a gift greatly lacking in debates raging currently in the public square. Age can produce a sense of proportion. Experience, especially suffering, danger, closeness to death and various hardships over a long period can produce it. (I love the quote by the great Keith Miller). The study of History can produce it and so can a belief in and relationship with Almighty God and an awareness of eternity.
May Prince Philip rest in peace and rise on the Last Day in God’s glory.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael Whittock
Cynthia Neville
Cynthia Neville
1 year ago

Thank you for a moving tribute.

Andy Martin
Andy Martin
1 year ago

To the writer of the article, I know The Duke was in the navy, but even so rather than ‘buggering on,’ a phrase redolent of certain jolly naval onboard activities featuring rum, BUM and concentina, couldn’t you have shown a bit more respect and chosen another phrase, for your tagline such as ‘bashing on?’

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
1 year ago

“He never publicly complained about having to take a back row seat in this way.”
And yet no-one was left in any doubt about his feelings on the matter.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fred Atkinstalk
kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago

I was reading a biography of crime writer Margery Allingham-her husband knew Prince Philip during the war. Later the Prince became a member of a group of ex-war people called Thursday Club-but even then people couldn’t leave him alone-photographing him at a private party and cricket match and putting it in the newspaper etc. He gave up a lot to be consort to Queen and if he got annoyed occasionally who can blame him?

Samir Zulfiquar
Samir Zulfiquar
1 year ago

I noticed that the article writer forgot to mention that Prince Philip wanted to depopulate the planet.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

And he was absolutely right about that. The obscenely high population growth in the thirdworld is the biggest problem the planet’s ecosystem has ever faced.

Samir Zulfiquar
Samir Zulfiquar
1 year ago

A dude who lives in a palace and flies around in private jets funded by taxpayer money lectures regular people that they’re a burden on the planet. Talk about throwing stones from a glass house.
Also what makes you think he would care about your life any more than Africans or Indians?
I for one have not so much as a flicker of sorrow for the passing of that ghoul.
As a matter of fact, I feel like a huge burden has been lifted of the shoulders of humanity.
Good Riddance!

D Ward
D Ward
1 year ago

Yawn.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

No amount of a person’s “private jet” journeys can wreak as much damage on the planet as an “ordinary” female black African multiplying at the rate of 1:6 on average, in an age when infant mortality is drastically reduced (courtesy of the civilised “west”).
That said, you’re perfectly entitled to your mirth upon his death – now you can understand how many of us felt when Mandela kicked the bucket, even though TV was bvggered for at least two weeks thereafter.

Kathryn Richards
Kathryn Richards
1 year ago

You are a sad individual Samir, who totally (deliberately) misunderstands. Or maybe your English isn’t as good as you think.
At no point did he advocate ‘depopulating’. He, quite rightly, advocated smaller families. The world population has doubled from 4 Billion just 65 years ago to 8 Billion today. Climate change, pollution, starvation would not be an issue if we still had 4 Billion.
But you hold on to your jealousy/envy. Because that’s what it is, isn’t it?

ricksanchez769
ricksanchez769
1 year ago

The Duke’s views were a bit misguided. Year over year over the last 10, the US and Canada have had bumper crops of wheat, corn, soybean, rice etc etc. There is still starvation but that is purely politically induced (despotic and corrupt governments etc). What would you have a poor black family in the DRC do? More workers (ie children) to help tend the heard, grow the food, scrounge for $ to buy provisions – determined people will KBO. My God, look at Venezuela – in 1993 I spent 7 days on a resort – lush beaches, parrots in the jungle – and now – infants and children are so malnourished they are 2/3rds the size of a UK or American kid – in a resource rich country.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago

Boring self regarding woffle

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
1 year ago

You’re a boil on the backside of humanity.

Geoff H
Geoff H
1 year ago

Yes, it does. It is sobering to realise that this planet does not need us to survive – unlike bees and other useful creatures. How the Earth must just want to shake us all off like a dog shakes off water. But give it time, a bit more sawing on the branch we are all sitting on and she won’t have to.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff H

Also population control was a subject a certain climate change enthusiast-almost as old as the Prince himself was talking about in the 1970’s. People were told to limit size of their families ( a message only the west seem to have taken to heart )as over-population was feared.

Samir Zulfiquar
Samir Zulfiquar
1 year ago

I see you are a devout acolyte of the mainstream media.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

I see you are a rabid adherent of the cult of internaz¡sm. (And of a different cult as well, quite likely.)

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago

You are wrong . You are repeating untruths. That would never had state to his face .