Prince Philip critics would have been sent to the Tower in centuries gone by - YEP opinion

It was a matter of hours after the announcement of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death that I spotted a flag flying at half-mast for the first time.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 11:45 am
The Union Jack flies at half mast over Leeds Civic Hall in tribute to Prince Philip.

Like everybody else, I have seen plenty since, but that first sighting - outside an otherwise lifeless pub - served as a reminder of how significant his passing is to the vast majority of the population.

I always fancied having a flag pole in the front garden of Chez Tapp, but it doesn’t rank highly enough in home improvement priorities to warrant serious consideration.

If this minor pipedream is to be fulfilled at some point, I would want an array of flags hoisted high above my satellite dish at the appropriate time.

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If I did manage to convince Mrs Tapp that we needed a 15 ft pole at the front of our home, I would’ve joined the huge number of Brits and public buildings in displaying a Union Flag at half-mast this week.

In these times of continuing restrictions on what we can or cannot do, dropping a 5ft by 3ft piece of fabric halfway down its pole is one of a handful of ways to show respect to the most distinguished of individuals.

You could write a poem but unless you are the Poet Laureate, why would you want to inflict more gloom on the nation?

I speak not as an enthusiastic royalist who sports a ‘Charles loves Camilla’ tattoo or displays the entire Royal Doulton silver jubilee collection in the corner cabinet, but as somebody who recognises the outstanding contribution the grand old Duke made to British life. Broadly speaking, I’m in good company, as most people I have spoken to since Friday’s sad announcement have spoken of him in the fondest terms.

Although his 73 years of marriage to the world’s most famous woman brought him unrivalled privileges and comfort, he was viewed by many as the embodiment of the greatest generation, a no-nonsense old man - who got on and did what was expected of him, and more.

He has left his mark in many ways: anybody with the Duke of Edinburgh Award on their CV will bore you to tears about how beneficial it has been to them.

There is a small, vocal minority who have exercised their right to free speech to loudly question whether the passing of a 99-year-old warranted the wall-to-wall coverage it received.

It has been reported that the nation’s kicking post, otherwise known as the BBC, has set up a dedicated complaints webpage to deal with those who were dismayed with the amount of perceived forelock tugging on their screens and radios.

The inevitable blanket coverage on three of the four main terrestrial channels led to a minor outcry from some who objected to the cancellation of scheduled Friday night programmes.

Personally speaking, waiting a few days to find out whether a dish of lobster blancmange would win Masterchef isn’t the end of the world.

There are scores of channels to watch so those not wanting to watch lengthy tribute pieces could turn over. Yet there are those who insist on making their barbed point about the Royal Family, even at a time of genuine sadness, by using the malign force of social media. In centuries gone by, such critics would be sent to the Tower - now we have the mute button. I will seek out a half-mast flag wherever I go and briefly pause to remember one of the greatest of public servants.