News from your Keynsham and Saltford MP - May 2021
"To become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks.”
This oath of medieval lineage was used by the Duke of Edinburgh at the Queen’s coronation on June 2, 1953, and has become one of the two defining quotations of the modern monarchy – and the reason that the institution has been so successful during the second Elizabethan Age.
Prince Philip’s oath provides the answer to the question of how the monarchy continues to flourish once all political power is ceded. It is about service to an institution embodied in an individual who represents the nation.
The many obituaries have enumerated the volume of work that the Duke carried out over his lifetime. The tens of thousands of engagements, the thousands of speeches and, although no one has yet estimated the number of hands he shook, it must be over one million.
As that liege man, he sublimated himself wholly to the interests of the nation. The Duke’s tireless example showed how monarchy can still be important and useful. To do this, not only did he have to be endlessly dutiful, but also memorable.
Royalty are blessed and cursed by the fact that everyone they meet will remember every word that is spoken. The Duke’s ability to be pithy may have amused the media from time to time, but it ensured that all whom he met had a story to tell afterwards. The Duke’s steadfast dedication, demonstrated not only devotedly but with good humour, was a linchpin to our monarchy and so to our constitution and the health of our nation.
The oaths made by Her Majesty and Prince Philip before God link the sovereign to our collective history, allowing and encouraging her personification of the nation.
People are honoured to meet or be thanked by the Queen or her immediate family because of this symbolism. A plaque being unveiled by her consort is special because of the religious element of the coronation, the divine blessing if not right that the sovereign enjoys.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to the Duke is that he made it look easy. That is the proof of how well it has been done and a reminder of the debt we owe for a long life as the country’s first vassal, Her Majesty’s liege man.