Capel Methodist Church: Lessons From A 99-Year-Old

I am writing in the immediate aftermath of the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, but by the time this is in print, he will have been buried for two weeks and many column inches of obituary and tributes will have been published. Already within 48 hours of his death, hours of TV and radio coverage, newspaper and internet articles have filled us in on his extraordinary life.

I’m not attempting an obituary here, just personal reflections that have come to me in the initial reactions to his death

  • I realise I only knew a fraction of the man. He was always in the shadow of his wife and  quite content to be there. At her Coronation just five years after their marriage, he pledged his life to serve the Queen. He could have had a career of his own, perhaps becoming First Sea Lord, but he surrendered that to serve the Queen, the nation and the Commonwealth. As Archbishop Justin Welby said, “he was a man with a deep and genuine sense of service and humility”.
  • His marriage was underpinned with love and a lifelong commitment. He was faithful to his marriage vows, having celebrated 73 years of marriage last year. They were each the chief member of their mutual appreciation societies. The tributes from his wife for their golden and 70th wedding anniversaries speak volumes. He was her strength and stay and she was his best companion.
  • I guess I have often thought of him as a bit brusque and speaking his mind – sometimes controversially. He did make a few gaffes but mostly on issues that he was passionate about. Before conservation and environmental issues were rarely discussed, he was a prophetic voice raising awareness. As the Archbishop said, “He had a righteous impatience. He would not accept the status quo. If things were not right, he would say so and say so quickly, and clearly, and often bluntly”.
  • The tributes of his children and some of their spouses speak about his calmness, his listening ear and his wisdom. He wouldn’t always react immediately but would stop, reflect and think about a potential way forward.

I ask myself and you:

  • Am I willing to serve, even if it goes unnoticed?
  • Am I willing to work at my marriage and affirm my spouse to ensure it is lifelong?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • Where am I making a difference?
  • Do others recognise me as a listener and a reflective person?

I have something to learn from this man who imperfect but willing to serve – not just till he was 65, but for over 30 years beyond normal retirement.

We pray for his beloved wife, our Queen, for whom there is an enormous hole in her life with the loss of her “strength and stay”.

Rev Andrew Sankey
Minister at Capel Methodist Church
8 Roundridge Road, Capel St Mary Ipswich IP9 2UG / 01473 311178 / 07966 187216

Live streaming of services every Sunday, 10.15 for a 10.30am start at: (available 24/7)

May 2
           Helen Walton of The Leprosy Mission
May 9           Alyson Ellis
May 16         Andrew Docherty
May 23         Andrew Sankey
May 30         Alan Cutting

Time of Reflection, in the church from 9.30-10am
May 2         Emma Bowyer
May 9         Alyson Ellis
May 16       Sue France
May 23       Andrew Vellacott
May 30       Andrew Sankey

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