HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Homily from the Mass for the repose of the soul of Prince Philip

Homily preached by The Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool, at Mass for the repose of the soul of The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh   4pm on Saturday 10 April 2021 in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.
 
 Readings at Mass: Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20: 19-31.
 
One of the characteristics of Prince Philip which endeared him to the nation was his enquiring mind and his interest in people and what they were doing as well as who they were. Wherever he visited, it was this gift that endeared him to the people he met and made them feel that the work they were doing was valued and that they themselves mattered and were of use. No one who ever met him would say that this attitude was superficial or that he was just doing what princes and dukes do – his interest in things and people was real. Whether he had been married to the Queen or not, whether he was a duke or not didn’t really matter – what mattered was that people felt better after they had met him. They felt better about themselves and knew that they mattered.
 
What was it then that made Prince Philip such a loved and unique person? I would like to think that it was due to his capacity to love. The second reading today from the First Letter of St John says: ‘We can be sure that we love God’s children if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us’. Even though St John says that God's commandments are not difficult, for most of us and for Prince Philip, I’m sure, keeping the commandments is at best a work in progress; however, the sense of duty which evolves from keeping the commandments was engrained in him, and I believe was a result of the love that he had for his beloved wife, our Queen, and for his children – and beyond them he loved his wider family and the navy and the nation which adopted him and took him to their hearts. Duty without love is heartless, and ultimately is grudging and worthless. Duty and love are complementary, two sides of the same coin.
 
As a Christian, a religious man in many ways, Prince Philip believed that Jesus is the Christ and in that sense was begotten by God. At times we know that his religion went cold on him, but he never stopped questioning and commenting on sermons of bishops and priests. I believe it was the price a bishop had to pay for accepting the command to preach to the Royal Family at Sandringham. He was someone who sought God, the author of truth and meaning. At Mass this afternoon our first prayer is that Prince Philip is now with the God whom he sought and who loved him into being. That is a Christian duty, but a duty born out of love. We pray that Prince Philip is now with his Father in heaven in a place of peace and light. But Prince Philip was also keen on people of all religions respecting each other and indeed working with each other. There are many values in the great religions of the world that are common and he couldn’t see why these weren’t emphasised so that humanity could work together and religion could be a source of unity and not division. His experience, his world-wide experience as representative of the Queen to the Commonwealth, helped him see that not only was this desirable for world peace but it was also possible. He was a man of vision in this respect.
 
Our second Christian duty is to give thanks to Almighty God for the life of Prince Philip and for what he achieved through his fidelity to the Queen and to the role to which he had been called – and we do this lovingly. In fact, there is no other way to give thanks except as an act of love. Out of concern for others and for the environment, he did many great things and he remained faithful to them. He was in for the long haul. The example he gave is one that is much needed nowadays: the ideas of life-long commitment to another person and to service are fast receding.

Finding satisfaction in marriage, with all its ups and downs, comes as love matures. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme ingrains in young people ideals of service and commitment as well as recognition of personal achievement that stay with a person throughout their lives, shaping them as future citizens. His remaining faithful to the World Wildlife Fund has made the world a better place, respecting the love which God has for us in the world he created. His understanding of ecology and his work in drawing together different parties went far beyond saving the giant panda to offering hope for the future of the planet to us all. He had an enquiring mind which explored ideas in theology, philosophy, and science and technology – as witnessed by his collection of books. He was ahead of his time, and it is only in recent years that ideas of world fraternity and ecology have become part of day-to-day understanding.
 
Fidelity or faithfulness is not a popular idea because it doesn’t follow fashion, doesn’t allow for whim or fancy but it is based in duty and lasting love. But it goes in hand in hand with another characteristic of Prince Philip which was humility. He was often self-effacing and slow to claim credit for his achievements and did what he did because that was the way he was made.
 
We will all miss this intelligent, caring, humorous and thoughtful man who gave back to his family, the nation and the world much more than he received, but our grief can only be a shadow of that felt by Her Majesty the Queen, their children and all their family. It is to them that I extend my sincerest condolences at their loss. As we share in the grief of the Royal Family, I want to assure you of the prayers of the Archdiocese of Liverpool for Prince Philip, and our grateful thanks before God for the wonderful gift that was Prince Philip.
 
May he rest in peace.

Archbishop's statement on the death of Prince Philip

The Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool, has issued the following statement on the death of The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

‘I pray for the repose of the soul of Prince Philip and for Her Majesty the Queen and all the members of the Royal Family at this time of sorrow.

‘We give thanks for Prince Philip’s life of loyal public service to our country, the support he has faithfully given to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family and his presence among us for so many years.

‘May this good and faithful servant rest in the peace of the Risen Lord.’

The Archbishop will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul of HRH Prince Philip at 4pm tomorrow, Saturday 10 April, in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.

At this time numbers remain restricted at the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Mass will be livestreamed on the Cathedral Facebook page and You Tube channel.