The elegy, written by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, was posted to the royal family’s social media accounts on Saturday, a year after the Duke of Edinburgh, famously described by the Queen as her “constant strength and guide”, died peacefully in his sleep at his Windsor Castle home.
The poem, entitled The Patriarchs: An Elegy, is read by Armitage over piano music and a poignant video montage showing photographs of the duke’s life, including his wedding day and the birth of his children.
First published on the day of Philip’s funeral last year, the poem pays tribute to his distinguished career in the Royal Navy.
It reads: “On such an occasion / to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up / for a whole generation – that crew whose survival / was always the stuff of minor miracle, / who came ashore in orange-crate coracles, / fought ingenious wars, finagled triumphs at sea / with flaming decoy boats, and side-stepped torpedoes.”
The duke’s generation is described in the poem as “husbands to duty”, “great-grandfathers from birth” and “last of the great avuncular magicians”.
In its final verse, it reads: “But for now, a cold April’s closing moments / parachute slowly home, so by mid-afternoon / snow is recast as seed heads and thistledown.”
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Buckingham Palace announced Philip’s death just after noon on April 9, 2021, issuing a statement that spoke about the royal family joining with people across the globe to grieve.
He died just a few months short of his 100th birthday.
A man known as much for his keen interest in engineering and science as his outspoken comments and gaffes, the duke was central to the monarch’s life.
Watch Royal Editor Chris Ship's report from April 9, 2021, looking back on Prince Philip's life
Philip became an international figure when he married the Queen more than 70 years ago, and his death was marked with tributes from world leaders, foreign royal families and charities he supported.
At the recent service of thanksgiving for Philip’s life, Dean of Windsor the Right Rev David Conner paid tribute to his abilities and also highlighted his shortcomings – just as the duke would have wanted.
He described Philip as a man of “passionate commitment” who devoted his “intellectual and physical energy” to a “host of down-to-earth enterprises”, but he could also be “abrupt” in a “robust conversation, forgetting just how intimidating he could be”.
The Queen is believed to be at Windsor Castle and it is understood she will mark the first anniversary of the death of her husband privately.
In her Christmas Day broadcast last year, she reflected on a year of personal grief, saying there was “one familiar laugh missing” as she acknowledged the death of her husband.
She gave a personal tribute to her “beloved Philip” and remarked how his “mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him”.
At the duke’s funeral, attended by just 30 mourners due to Covid regulations, the Queen was pictured sitting alone wearing a face mask.
The royal family marked what would have been the duke’s 100th birthday – June 10, 2021 – with pictures of Philip posted on social media in tribute.
Princess Eugenie wrote on Instagram: “Thinking of Grandpa on what would have been his 100th birthday.”
The princess shared an image of her grandparents, Philip and the Queen, together at her 2018 wedding, outside St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
The Earl of Wessex, however, told CNN that his father was “incredibly self-effacing” and probably would not have wanted the hassle of celebrating turning 100.
Edward said: “I don’t think he ever really necessarily wanted to reach his centenary because I just think he thought there would be too much fuss and that wasn’t him, that was just not him at all.”
The Queen poignantly marked the occasion by watching the planting of a newly-bred rose named after her late husband, a gift from the Royal Horticultural Society, which was placed in the Windsor Castle gardens.
On Saturday, an exhibition opened featuring a naval uniform worn by the duke and his admiral’s cap – on display for the first time.
The exhibition, at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, looks at the Queen’s close links to the Navy as part of celebrations for her Platinum Jubilee.