Prince Philip's Easter Sunday absence 'unusual' but not unexpected
Josh K. Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, April 2, 2018 12:58PM EDT
Prince Philip’s absence from an Easter Sunday church service at St. George’s Chapel is “a little bit” concerning, but not out of step with the 96-year-old’s retirement from public life, according to CTV royal commentator Richard Berthelsen.
The Duke of Edinburgh was listed on the program at the event, where he was expected to appear alongside the Queen, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and several other members of the Royal Family. He backed out due to what Kensington Palace described as a hip issue that affected his mobility, and has now missed three public events in 10 days.
“It is a bit unusual for the prince to miss the Easter Sunday Service,” Berthelsen told CTV News Channel on Monday. “The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are both very devout Christians, and they take that part of their lives very seriously so for the Duke to actually miss Sunday Service at Easter – which is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar – is pretty unusual.”
Prince Philip retired from his official duties as a member of the Royal Family last August, so it’s not entirely surprising to see him skip an event that he might not have felt healthy for, Berthelsen said. But it’s hard not to notice his absence, given the importance of the event.
“He’s an incredibly proud man, and if he is walking with a limp or any other thing like that, he may just feel he doesn’t want to appear in public and have all the pictures, and have all the speculation,” Berthelsen said.
However, Berthelsen suggests he may simply be taking it easy on his body ahead of a whirlwind stretch on the Royal Family’s calendar. Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge is expected to give birth to her third child with Prince William later this month, and Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle is scheduled for May 19.
“This was the whole intent of their official announcement of retirement,” Berthelsen said. “He’s probably looking ahead to this wedding in May that he really wants to be there, and he really wants to be in the best form he can possibly be.”
Harry and Markle were also absent from the Easter service at St. George’s Chapel, although Berthelsen chalks that up to a desire to avoid stealing the spotlight from the Queen. “That’s where (Markle) is going to be married herself in a few weeks’ time,” he said. “Members of the Royal Family are preserving what strength they have to get through all of this.”
But there will be no rest for Queen Elizabeth II, who will attend what might be her final meeting of the Commonwealth members on Apr. 16. The Commonwealth is a voluntary group of 53 countries formerly under British rule, including Canada, with the Queen at its head. The issue of successor is expected to top the agenda, Berthelsen says.
“That’s going to be a very major occasion, and there may be some comment and some direction about the future of the Commonwealth in the new reign,” he said. He added that Prince Charles is not guaranteed to take over for the Queen, and that other members of the family, including Prince Harry, will likely play important roles in the Commonwealth’s future.
“We may get some sense of that in the weeks ahead,” he said.