Fated encounters Prince Philip

Diplomatic Reception. / Dominic Lipinski/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Have you ever met the Queen? Caught a glimpse of her from a distance? Or at least seen some members of her family?” Such queries continued to pop up through the years whenever friends visited when I was residing in London.

These simply-cannot-be-ignored-conversations always steered more to this direction, once they realized that my assignment with the National Tourist Office was attached to the Embassy of the Philippines to the Court of St James.

My first apartment did not help quench the situation. It was on Piccadilly, right opposite Green Park by the side of Buckingham Palace. From my living room, I would observe the Royal Standard flying proudly to signify the Monarch’s presence.

After hosting visitors for lunch at my second work accommodation on Kensington Court, they discovered nearby Kensington Palace was the home for many Royals, including Prince Charles, Princess Diana and their two young Princes William and Harry.

Diplomatic Reception. / Dominic Lipinski/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The recent passing on of Prince Philip has made me recall my several encounters with The Duke of Edinburgh.

The very first one was during my initial Trooping the Colours, a widely-celebrated event to mark The Queen’s official birthday.

Prodded by house guests, we crossed the park and joined the well-behaved crowds behind barriers. This was where I sighted the Prince on horseback, with his two elder sons, the Prince of Wales and the Prince of York, along with the Duke of Kent, all in full military regalia. His posture – straight as a rod – during the entire ceremony was utterly astonishing. I quickly assumed this resulted from his decades-old armed forces background. Clamoring for more, we lingered on for the clan’s expected appearance on the balcony to view the impressive flyover salute.

At the Royal Ascot. / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The next sighting of His Royal Highness — delightfully repeated in numerous years — was during the Royal Ascot, which attracted the world’s top horse breeders and their prized possessions for competitive races.

The event, synonymous with elegance, required a strict dress code. This was where we caught the Prince gladly cheering on the horses, which some I assumed, belonged to the Queen’s stable. It was a sight of a gentleman having a real good time, surrounded by family and friends.

I came across the Duke yet again at the many annual Diplomatic Garden Parties at the huge green patches of Buckingham Palace. Courtiers made certain the Royals spent ample time with citizens recognized for heroic deeds. Due to my proximity, I overheard some conversations, where the host was authentically interested and genuinely concerned. But that is as far as I can share.

Once the Royal Family descended to the Royal Tent, we appreciated their hospitality at the adjacent Diplomatic Tent. Just within eyeshot was the Prince, whose charm yet dignified presence made everyone relax, especially with his no-malice quips and anecdotes.

My next brush with him was during the steeped-in-strict-court-protocols Annual Diplomatic Evening Reception, an extravagant white-tie affair at the Buckingham Palace with major Royals in full attendance.

With precious appointments from ceiling to floor, the ladies were radiant and resplendent with their long gowns, tiaras, bejeweled necklaces and earrings.

Once again, we had the grand opportunity to meet the Queen and the Duke. Ever conscious, but rightfully a few steps behind Her Majesty, his face was always lit up as he maintained meaningful eye contact with the guests, putting everyone at ease.

One of the most unforgettable moments carved in my memories was the funeral walk behind the hearse carrying the remains of Diana, Princess of Wales, the much beloved People’s Princess, from her home at Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey for funeral.

How can I ever forget the sight of five grieving gentlemen — Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry and the Earl Althorp — walking side by side in perfect cadence. As the father and sons and the Princess’ only brother were often bowed, Prince Philip looked straight ahead. But once in a while, I would observe he would lean back with a caring, loving eye at the boys.

Judging from the seemingly unstoppable outpouring of praises from near and far, religiously shared by media from all over the globe, Prince Philip is a hero a million times over.

Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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