Gratitude Day 618
Ephesians 5:32 – Marriage is the beautiful design of the Almighty, a great mystery of Christ and his church.
This photo just made me laugh. And yet, there is SO MUCH in this one little photo.
Apparently, Queen Elizabeth is returning from an engagement. Normally, members of the Queen’s Guard stand at attention as she passes through.
Now, look closely at the guard in this photo.
IT’S PRINCE PHILIP!!
That’s right. He’s donned one of those bearskin hats and a complete Queen’s Guard uniform and stands at salute as his wife passes by. I think the Queen’s smirk on her face indicates she is completely surprised to find her husband wearing one of these time-honored uniforms.
Since the passing of Prince Philip last weekend, droves of photos of his relationship with his wife, Queen Elizabeth, have been released. TOTAL DISCLOSURE: I know almost nothing about the royal family other than what any normal American would know. I don’t have any inside information about their marriage and relationship.
Based on what I’ve read and photos like the one above, here’s what I am guessing: Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth were completely and totally dedicated to each other in their marriage. No matter what. And this, I believe is a great model for the rest of us.
Here’s a man who set aside his life to support and encourage his wife and her role. In fact, at her coronation, Philip bowed before his young wife. This single act defined much of the next 70-some years of his life.
Philip willingly took a back seat to what he would have preferred and seemingly deferred to his wife on many matters. Rather than allowing this to become a stumbling block in their marriage, Philip seemingly embraced and accepted this role as well as any man could have. I have no doubt that Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth have had bumps along their over seven decades of marriage. Any marriage would have. But their commitment to their relationship and each other took precedence over everything else. They simply stuck together.
It seems that Prince Philip had a cheeky side to him. Humor was part of his demeanor and something he embraced. Maybe this was his way of adding levity or helping them keep perspective of their role and responsibilities.
I guess this because, well, this is what my husband has so often put into our marriage. While I have no clue what it is like to be the Queen, we do have a little experience of feeling like our relationship is examined through a magnifying glass. As a pastor, we have been very much aware of how people respond to us and what we do. there have been many times when we were invited as a couple to various things. Sometimes Rick wanted to attend and sometimes he didn’t. I remember one particular instance early in our dating career where we were invited to an event because of my role as a pastor. We were asked to do something that Rick was not comfortable with. We had about 30 seconds to decide. I felt like it was a watershed moment; one that would define how our relationship moved forward. When something made him feel a little uncomfortable, would he hang back or would he support my role as a pastor and thus the ministry I felt called to do and overlook his preferences? I needed to be careful and make sure that not every ministry event elevated itself to this level. I learned to accept that he should make choices about certain things. But I also needed to know that he had my back when I needed it.
From my extremely limited perspective, it’s clear to me that Prince Philip had Queen Elizabeth’s back.
We see this on the night of their 50th wedding anniversary. At a party in their honor. Queen Elizabeth shared a short speech. She shared many of the expected and normal things one would anticipate. But at the end of the speech, the Queen spoke of her husband. Not one to show much emotion, the Queen’s words were heart-felt and profound when she said, “He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments, but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years. I, and his whole family and this and many other countries, own him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know,” she said.
This, my friends, is how a strong partnership relationship should be. One in which partners provide strength and comfort and support for each other. One in which humbly accepting your role is a priority. One in which partners always have each other back, even when they disagree.
Being married to someone for 70ish years is such a major accomplishment. One the Queen and Prince Philip embraced and lived and modeled for all the world to see. It seems that Prince Philip did it humbly. With humor. With respect and honor of his wife and country. With love for his family. It’s a choice he chose to make and one that teaches the rest of us so much about those relationships that mean the most to us.
Because of the pandemic, the funeral and celebration of Prince Philip’s life will be dramatically scaled back. My guess? Prince Philip is quite happy with this arrangement. It’s turning out just like he would prefer.
For relationships that inspire me in my marriage, I am grateful.
Almighty God – be with the Queen and her entire family as they grief the loss of their loved one this week. Be with anyone, anywhere, who is missing someone special in their lives. Amen.
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