LETTER:In praise of Prince Philip

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The Independent Online
From Sir Sigmund Sternberg

Sir: You chose to mark the 74th birthday of Prince Philip with a critical article by Polly Toynbee which went beyond what is fair and reasonable.

Delving into his family history, Polly Toynbee describes his mother, Princess Alice, as having gone "mad". This did not prevent her from saving the lives of many Holocaust victims. I was present, representing British Jewry, a the ceremony in Jerusalem last year when Prince Philip received an award by Yad Vashem on behalf of his late mother. Also present was his sister, Sophie, to whom Prince Philip displayed considerable care and attention.

I had the privilege of meeting him again last week at the reception with the Queen in St James' Palace of the Council of Christians and Jews when his interest in people was again manifested. There was no evidence of a "royal repressed voice". Prince Philip is at an age when many people have long retired; yet he is - in Polly Toynbee's own words - "an energetic patron" of 850 organisations.

His life is an outstanding success story. Having overcome his deprived background, he went on to build a reputation worldwide, far removed from the "archetypal patriarch - dutiful, bullying and redundant", of Polly Toynbee's imagination.

Yours faithfully,


Sternberg Centre for Judaism

London, N3

12 June