In light of the sad news about HRH Philip, here's an anecdote about him that stuck with me
A long time ago I worked in the UK government at GCHQ. And, like most places in HMG, civil servants would occasionally qualify for awards of varying national significance.
Towards the top end of those awards were various categories of honors, and right at the top of that list are various rare honors awarded and handed out by the Queen herself.
So every so often the Queen, often accompanied by the Duke, would come to Cheltenham to watch the races, visit the special donut building, and award those honors
A friend of mine while I worked in Cheltenham was a truly exceptional mathematician and was awarded one such honor
Now it should go without saying that the Queen is a very busy person, and doesn't have a lot of time, and she meets a *lot* of people (especially back then). So these things are pretty regimented to keep time.
So for each person, what would happen is they'd meet the Queen, she'd say "now what do you do" and they'd be faced with the task of distilling their life's highest achievement into maybe a sentence or two
Like "I am the lead analyst on the blah-blah desk", or "I work in countering WMDs". And the Queen very politely says something very short like "congratulations" and gives them a medal and then off to the next person they go
And through this all, an elderly HRH Philip is behind her, and in the not-nearly-as-tactful-as-his-wife way that was his trademark, trying hard to hide his boredom at his wife giving medals to a room full of civil servants for what must be the billionth time in his life
Anyway, they get all the way round to my friend. And the Queen asks: "so, what do you do". And my friend quickly summarizes his entire career into a sentence. "Ma'am, I'm a mathematician"
But before the Queen can get to her usual "congratulations" and give him a medal, HRH Philip explodes with a sudden burst of excitement!
"A MAGICIAN you say? Go on! Show us a trick!"
Leaving my poor friend stunned, and the room silent for two seconds before the aide summons himself to quickly usher the Duke on, the Queen hurriedly gives him his medal and a "congratulations" and they move on to the next person round the room.
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