Philip’s intellect, work ethic and commitment to family remembered in service

David Conner delivered an address at the service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey.

29 March 2022

The Duke of Edinburgh’s intellect, work ethic, sense of humour and devotion to his family were celebrated in an address by the Dean of Windsor.

The Right Reverend David Conner paid tribute to Philip as a “remarkable man” who was committed to “a host of down-to-earth enterprises”.

He pointed out that the duke could be “abrupt” and suggested that at times he could forget “just how intimidating he could be”.

Addressing the congregation in Westminster Abbey, Mr Conner said: “He was practical, wanting to put flesh upon his dreams, and (acknowledging the limitations of living in this so-called ‘real world’) he devoted his astonishing intellectual and physical energy, his enormous capacity for sheer hard work, to a host of down-to-earth enterprises.

“These included the equipping of young people to face tomorrow’s challenges, the encouragement of respect and care for the natural order, and his pioneering work in facilitating conversation between representatives of the different world faiths.

“Through his passionate commitment, he drew others to himself in admiration and respect and, in the case of those who lived and worked most closely to him, genuine love.”

Mr Conner added: “He would hate to think that I should paint a picture of him as a ‘plaster saint’; someone without the usual human foibles and failings.

“He was far too self-aware ever to be taken in by flattery. Of course, it must be said that his life bore the marks of sacrifice and service.

“Certainly, he could show great sympathy and kindness. There is no doubt that he had a delightfully engaging, and often self-deprecating, sense of humour.

“It is quite clear that his mind held together both speculation and common sense. Moreover, nobody would ever doubt his loyalty and deep devotion to our Queen and to their family.

“Yet, there were times when he could be abrupt; maybe, in robust conversation, forgetting just how intimidating he could be.

“A kind of natural reserve sometimes made him seem a little distant. He could be somewhat sharp in pricking what he thought to be bubbles of pomposity or sycophancy.

“On the other hand, we should not forget that he himself was sometimes wounded by being unfairly criticised or misunderstood.”

Concluding his address, the dean said: “As we give thanks for the life of a remarkable man, perhaps our greatest tribute to him, most especially in these far too troubled times, will be for us to accept the challenge, implicit in his life, to rekindle in our hearts something of that call, and to pray (as I think he did) for the inspiration and the guidance to play our part, however small, in working for a kinder future.”

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