The Crown and the Gurkhas

Lieutenant General Sir Peter Duffell (right) as a Lieutenant Colonel commanding First Battalion 2nd KEO Gurkha Rifles with his Colonel-in Chief, the then Prince of Wales, visiting a training exercise in 1982. (source: Lieutenant General Sir Peter Duffell)

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In the aftermath of the passing of our beloved Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I reached out to one of my favorite military figures, Lieutenant-General Sir Peter Duffell, who is a retired high-ranking officer of the Gurkhas and the former Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong. Sir Peter – who is notably the author of the enthralling book Gurkha Odyssey: Campaigning for the Crown (Pen & Sword) – generously accepted to share his insights with me, in an exclusive piece I am extremely happy to share with you below. These comments detail the relationship between the Gurkhas – who are among the very best soldiers in the world, but who also serve in one of my favorite units in the British Army, with the Scottish Regiments – and the Crown.

Many sincere thanks for sharing this with us on this mournful and historic occasion, Sir Peter!

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In the volume of commentary that has followed the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, almost every aspect of her reign and the life of King Charles III has been well documented including their very personal links with the Armed Forces of the Crown.

Everyone who has served in uniform will have sworn allegiance to Queen and Country and will have been reminded constantly through their titles, insignia, medals, standards and colours of proud and important links with the monarch.

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Prince Philip had a library of 13 000 nonfiction books

Royal biographer Ingrid Seward (source: Twitter)

In the aftermath of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh’s death and the publication of my review of her excellent biography about him, Editor in Chief of Majesty Magazine, Ingrid Seward kindly and generously accepted to respond to a few questions about the longest serving consort in the history of the British Monarchy. For anyone interested in knowing more about the life and times of Prince Philip, I could not encourage you enough to get a copy of Prince Philip Revealed (Simon & Schuster). Without any further introduction, here is the content of our exchange:

Lots has been said and written since the announcement of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, but what would be, in your opinion, his main legacy?

His main legacy is his remarkable sense of duty which enabled him to do so many things. I suppose the Duke of Edinburgh awards are the main thing he will be remembered for.

As a biographer, you have certainly met with Prince Philip on several occasions. What is your best memory of those encounters?

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The Iron Prince

Much has been written in the last couple of days about the late Duke of Edinburgh being a rock for his wife, Her Majesty the Queen, and the Crown. But it is rather as “the man of the house” of Windsor that we can realize the extent of the centrality of his role. Thanks to Ingrid Seward’s amazing biography Prince Philip Revealed (Atria Books – Simon & Schuster), anyone can understand why this consort was so instrumental in the success of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

A “product of a broken home”, Prince Philip understood, from a very young age that life is difficult and that you need to prepare for its challenges. Private school gave him the structure and discipline he couldn’t find in his own family. Later in life, his insistence on ensuring that his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, follow the same path would leave scars in the soul of the future king. But that’s another story.

In a nutshell, Philip ensured that his family would live in a relative environment of normalcy. From his drive to modernize the kitchens of Buckingham Palace to his designing of “[…] a portable barbecue that would fit into the back of a Range Rover so he could take it out onto the moors at Balmoral”, or his insistence for the adoption of television as a medium to reach out to people, the author succeeds in making you feel that Philip was a down-to-heart man. He was keener to “[…] adapt a range of clothing that would keep him warm during the winter months” than to succumb to pump and circumstances and obsequiousness.

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