AUSTRALIANS have likely given the Royal Family more thought than usual in recent weeks.
The Oprah Winfrey interview with Harry and Meghan dominated headlines, particularly the allegation that a family member had raised concerns about the potential skin tone of their then future child.
That saga likely seems a long time ago after Friday's news that the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip had died just two months shy of his 100th birthday.
He visited these shores almost two dozen times during his years of service at the side of the Queen, including her introductory tour in 1954. Before then, he served in World War II and just two years after the visit founded the eponymous Duke of Edinburgh awards for youth throughout the Commonwealth.
More than 775,000 Australians have participated in the award, which Prince Philip said he gave his own name reluctantly, since 1959.
"The duke's life was one of the duty and of service, of loyalty and honour. Memories of him will of course tell stories of his candour, and a unique and forceful and authentic personality. But above all, he was a man who was steadfast, who could be relied upon, always standing by his Queen," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
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Condolences go to all members of the Royal Family who, above all, are mourning the loss of a patriarch. His Operation Fourth Bridge planning of his own funeral commemorations have coincided with COVID-19 restrictions on how the British public can farewell him.
In Australia, the tragic moment will also be one in which many will ponder the future of our nation's position with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, and a reminder that the queen's stable reign is tragically not without its own end to come.
The monarchy question is not the most salient one in this moment, granted, but this moment will undoubtedly raise the question privately for many. Perhaps it will even influence the answers of some. For now, it is time to pay tribute to the contribution of a man who, albeit prone to and known for gaffes, rarely stepped aside when he could step forward. His life of privilege as a member of the Royal Family was also one of service, an example of what their rarefied status could allow them to give back. Now is a time to keep the Royal Family in our thoughts, and to remember the work of a man whose service has endured longer than many of us. Vale, Prince Philip.
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