WINDSOR, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 12: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attends the wedding of Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St. George’s Chapel on October 12, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Alastair Grant – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
By Lord Navnit Dholakia Deputy leader, Liberal Democrats, House of Lords
THE death of Prince Philip has left a huge void in Her Majesty’s life.
Equally, the nation and people the world over have felt the same void. You expect the end of life at some stage as inevitable, but we did not expect this to happen to people we love most.
Prince Philip, who was always by the Queen’s side, was so much part of our lives that it came as a shock when the news broke about his death.
It is often said that we always remember where we were when the news reached us. We share the grief and sadness felt by our royal family. Millions of words will be written and spoken about this most likeable personality whom we shall not see by the side of Her Majesty.
Let me add just a few words of my gratitude to the royal family whose constant care and concern about diversity have been at the forefront of our lives in our adopted homeland.
My parents were Indians who settled in East Africa. So I bring the perspectives of two different worlds.
Britain and India have been joined at the hip from the time of the British East India company and the British Raj.
Britain is the world’s oldest democracy and India is one of the largest democracies in the world. Many of the values we share has its roots in our democracy. The rule of law, freedom and peace are inherent in what we all believe. These have been sustained throughout our love-hate relationship. Yet the Queen and Prince Phillip are held with love and affection in that country.
I remember the days of one of the royal visit where queues stretched for miles just to get a glimpse of the royal couple. The relationship now is stronger than it has ever been before. A substantial number of Indians have now been recognised for their contribution towards the social political and economic life of this country. We thank the Queen and Prince Philip for giving shelter to so many who have worked to enrich the lives of so many of the populace in their new homeland.
We must not forget the role played by Her Majesty as head of the Commonwealth and Prince Philip by her side. We must not forget that the Commonwealth survives as a group of nations with a total commitment from the royal family for its success.
Prince Philip will be remembered for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Thousands of youngsters of all colours have benefited as participants. It also has an international dimension. When I was in Kenya during a visit, I was impressed with the number of youngsters participating in activities there. The value of this soft diplomacy is impossible to quantify, but suffice to say that young people are far more confident in their future with the opportunities they have gathered as participants.
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited Kenya soon after their marriage. They were staying at the Treetops Hotel where news reached them about the death of King George VI. We received them as a princess and prince, Kenya sent them back as the Queen and her consort. All these years we were blessed with this wonderful couple and our prayers are with their family.
Lord Dholakia was speaking in a House of Lords debate on Monday (12) paying tribute to Prince Philip.