On the death of Prince Philip

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, passed away last Friday aged 99. Obituaries across the world paid tribute, stressing his modest stance at the Queen's side, which was unusual for a man of his generation, and his sometimes questionable sense of humour. Europe's press takes the opportunity to reflect on the status and future of the British monarchy.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

The monarchy has a firm place in the people's hearts

The grief displayed by the British at the news of Prince Philip's death shows how firmly the British royal family is rooted in the people's hearts, Le Figaro comments:

“Neither Diana's tragedy nor Andrew's scandal (his name being mentioned in the Epstein affair) or, more recently, the psychodrama over Meghan Markle have harmed the dynasty. Britain has just gone through a long and difficult exit from the European Union. It has been badly shaken by the coronavirus crisis (127,000 dead). Violence may resurface in Ulster and Scotland may renew its desire for independence, however the continuation and stability of the crown defy the zeitgeist, calming and even strengthening the entire population. That is the deeper meaning of the flowers that have been laid in front of Buckingham Palace since Friday.”

Le Temps (CH) /

A foretaste of an immense void

The death of Prince Philip is a harbinger of the critical change of generations that is imminent in the UK, Le Temps points out:

“The death of the Duke of Edinburgh looks like the rehearsal for another inevitable transition. ... What will remain when Elizabeth II is no longer there to rally the country behind her? The succession is by no means a given, as future generations have neither the queen's aura nor her proven ability to conceal their personal anguish, however legitimate it may be. ... Now that the country has opted to live independently and only for itself, it must find a new binding element.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Continuity in these turbulent times

The change of generation that is now beginning in the House of Windsor does not necessarily mean the end of the British monarchy, says Ilta-Sanomat:

“There has been speculation that the gradual ending of the monarchy will begin when individual Commonwealth countries no longer want to be subservient to the monarchy after the departure of Queen Elizabeth II. However it is also possible that all the turbulence of recent years in the lives of the British and members of the Commonwealth will make them want to cling even more to the monarchy. Because Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic have already caused so much turmoil, few will want even more uncertainty.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Constantly changing with the times

The longevity and relevance of the monarchy are not the result of chance but of a clever ability to update as required, writes Nick Timothy in The Daily Telegraph:

“As a courtier once said to me, the Royal family does nothing as vulgar as 'modernisation', and its ancient origins are its strength. But at least as much as the Queen, Prince Philip was responsible for making sure the monarchy changed with the times and remained a unifying force. Prince Charles and Prince William will need to act in the same spirit.”