DAN WOOTTON: Farewell, Prince Philip – I pray his death will bring his family back together 

The Crown is facing some of its 'gravest challenges' after the death of Prince Philip - 'a future thinker' and passionate environmentalist who embraced new technology

The Crown is facing some of its 'gravest challenges' after the death of Prince Philip - 'a future thinker' and passionate environmentalist who embraced new technology

The Crown is facing some of its ‘gravest challenges’ after the death of Prince Philip – ‘a future thinker’ and passionate environmentalist who embraced new technology

A proud man but not too proud to put his wife’s work first.

An outsider who embraced new technology and allowed the mass media in to share a little of the private lives of our royals with the wider public.

A passionate environmentalist who encouraged folk to think about the planet during their daily lives.

A proponent of a less stuffy monarchy, streamlined and in touch with its subjects.

Not Prince Harry, but the Duke of Edinburgh, perhaps the greatest force behind the modernisation of the British Royal Family this century.

Without Prince Philip, it’s not impossible to think that the monarchy may not have even survived into 2021.

His influence, especially in the early days of the Queen’s reign, cannot and should not be underestimated in history.

As he leaves this earth at 99-years-old, the Crown is facing some of its gravest challenges.

Sixty-eight years ago, as the Queen prepared for her coronation, aged just 27, the future was also less than certain.

The trauma of the Abdication was still a raw memory for a nation that had been at war barely seven years earlier.

Backward royal courtiers at the time were stupidly opposed to such an important and historic event being televised.

It was Prince Philip, a future thinker very much aware of the coming revolution of new media, who insisted his wife would be crowned on camera.

Nearly three decades before the launch of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Prince Philip helped make the Royal Family the first ever stars of what we now know as reality TV

Nearly three decades before the launch of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Prince Philip helped make the Royal Family the first ever stars of what we now know as reality TV

Nearly three decades before the launch of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Prince Philip helped make the Royal Family the first ever stars of what we now know as reality TV

Prince Philip had made the British Royal Family the biggest stars on the planet and it’s that star power that has kept the Royal Family so consistently loved by the British public and brought in so much money in tourism to the UK thanks to the consistent interest from abroad

Prince Philip had made the British Royal Family the biggest stars on the planet and it’s that star power that has kept the Royal Family so consistently loved by the British public and brought in so much money in tourism to the UK thanks to the consistent interest from abroad

Prince Philip had made the British Royal Family the biggest stars on the planet and it’s that star power that has kept the Royal Family so consistently loved by the British public and brought in so much money in tourism to the UK thanks to the consistent interest from abroad

That decision would change the shape of the public’s relationship with royalty forever more – we demanded access to our monarchy in ways that were previously unthinkable.

Nearly three decades before the launch of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Prince Philip helped make the Royal Family the first ever stars of what we now know as reality TV.

A 1969 BBC film gave unprecedented access to the private lives of the Queen, Philip and their children, even showing them around the dining table.

Thanks to Philip’s decision, our royals were no longer remote ceremonial figures, but human beings with a normal family life.

We wanted to be a part of their lives, so the royal soap opera was born.

Granting so much access was a decision that Prince Philip soon came to regret, realising it opened up his younger offspring and their partners to a new scrutiny as the 24/7 broadcast media environment exploded.

In his later years, he attempted to pull back somewhat, with largely cantankerous and combative media appearances. His ITV special with Phillip Schofield in 2016 was particularly difficult to watch.

But for all the problems the overwhelming interest may have caused, Prince Philip had made the British Royal Family the biggest stars on the planet.

Thanks to Philip’s decision, our royals were no longer remote ceremonial figures, but human beings with a normal family life. Pictured: The Queen with Prince Philip and their children

Thanks to Philip’s decision, our royals were no longer remote ceremonial figures, but human beings with a normal family life. Pictured: The Queen with Prince Philip and their children

Thanks to Philip’s decision, our royals were no longer remote ceremonial figures, but human beings with a normal family life. Pictured: The Queen with Prince Philip and their children

Prince Philip died on Friday aged 99

Prince Philip died on Friday aged 99

Prince Philip died on Friday aged 99

Prince Philip died on Friday aged 99

The 94-year-old Queen was able to spend so much quality time with Philip at Windsor Castle over the past few months

It’s that star power that has kept the Royal Family so consistently loved by the British public and brought in so much money in tourism to the UK thanks to the consistent interest from abroad.

Despite retiring from public life in 2017 due to his increasing ill health, at the time of his death today, Prince Philip remained the fifth most popular royal, according to YouGov, following Prince William, The Queen, Kate and his beloved daughter Princess Anne.

Now I pray that it is Philip’s devastating death that will finally bring the warring Windsors together.

The 94-year-old Queen needs resolute unity during what will be her darkest days in the coming weeks as she grapples with the fact her self-proclaimed “rock” is no longer by her side.

As traumatic as the coronavirus pandemic has been for the monarch, who has struggled being physically cut off from her people for over a year, it brings me some delight that she was able to spend so much quality time with Philip at Windsor Castle over the past few months.

Despite retiring from public life in 2017 due to his increasing ill health, at the time of his death today, Prince Philip remained the fifth most popular royal, according to YouGov

Despite retiring from public life in 2017 due to his increasing ill health, at the time of his death today, Prince Philip remained the fifth most popular royal, according to YouGov

Despite retiring from public life in 2017 due to his increasing ill health, at the time of his death today, Prince Philip remained the fifth most popular royal, according to YouGov

Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Prince Philip

Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Prince Philip

Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew

There are hopes Philip’s devastating death will finally bring the warring Windsors together. Pictured left: Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Prince Philip, right, Prince Andrew

Now it’s time for her family – all senior royals – to step up.

The dramatic fallout sparked by Prince Harry and Meghan’s incendiary and ill-timed interview with Oprah Winfrey must be put to one side.

Prince Charles, William and Harry need to put on a united front for the Queen and country, securing the international reputation of the monarchy.

The public will also have to accept the presence of scandal-plagued Prince Andrew, who remains a key confidante of his mother.

This pandemic has provided another strangely ironic gift for Prince Philip in death.

His worst nightmare was a massive fuss for his funeral. Covid regulations will now mean that his final farewell will be relatively small and family-focussed.

But no matter how many people are allowed into the church or to line the streets, over the next week the British public will remember a vibrant Duke who lived his life to the full, was wonderfully un-PC, and provided our Queen with the unwavering support she needed to serve us.

Thank you Prince Philip. I will remember you the monarchy’s great moderniser of the 20th century.

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