Prince Philip had that rare ability to put people at ease

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Friday 09 April 2021 20:02
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Mourners gather at Windsor Castle following death of Prince Philip

One cannot express fully the sadness one feels following the news of the death of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh.

I had the honour and joy of being with him at different occasions. I remember well an occasion where there were just 10 or 12 of us considering a particular project where his joviality and sense of humour put me at ease in the royal company. While he maintained his position, he made me feel equal. That was the greatness of the man.

Jehangir Sarosh OBE

Bushey

“Bury the Great Duke/ With an empire’s lamentation”. The words will have to be changed somewhat but Tennysons’s famous ode on the death of another great personage (the Duke of Wellington) will no doubt be much quoted in the coming days. The Duke could be controversial but, like the Queen, he has been a fixture of many people’s lives from cradle to grave.

Royalty today no longer attracts universal deference. However, Prince Philip was clearly someone who lived his life according to deep underlying principles of duty and patriotism.

Any kind of public grieving is difficult at the moment but I have no doubt that the great majority of the nation will want, in one way or another, to pay respect to the Great Duke.  We will surely not see his like again.

The Rev Andrew McLuskey

Ashford, Middlesex

A true Englishman with the typical British spirit, Prince Philip played with great style but was out just before he could make a century.

Peter Fieldman

Address supplied

Violence in Northern Ireland

Mary Dejevsky (‘Does Boris Johnson even care about what’s happening in Northern Ireland?’, 8 March) is right to note the lack of coverage on the BBC until several days into the crisis, which I first learnt about from the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) news on the web. I also learnt first from them about the risks posed by the Manaus variant of Covid-19, and of forecasts that London hospitals were about to run out of intensive care beds. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the BBC is loath to report news that the government doesn’t want reported.

I have been a staunch supporter of the BBC since first moving to the UK in the 1970s, but none of its entertainment, musical, documentary or public service programming can compensate for a compromised news output. Perhaps it’s time to put the BBC out of its misery, and abolish the licence fee in favour of a subscription model. That would also remove their obligation to provide unbiased news coverage.

Rachael Padman

Newmarket

As an Ulsterman living in Scotland, I read Mary Dejevsky’s piece on the current unrest in Northern Ireland with a good deal of interest. Her observation that we have peace without reconciliation is spot on but is the best we can hope for until some new political voices make themselves heard above Sinn Fein and the DUP.

However, I take issue with her final observation, that a border poll leading to a unified Ireland could be the last act of the Belfast agreement. Surely, in that event, the agreement would be a guarantor of the culture of Ulster Scots and a protector of their wish to present as British. Or am I being naive in thinking that the Cruthin will ever get an even break in Gaelic Ireland?

Jim Stanley

Dunfermline

The Good Friday Agreement, a delicate balance resolving the almost intractable differences between the communities in Northern Ireland, was achieved by sensible and able statesmen – people with a long view of history.

Sadly, this Conservative administration is populated by far less able people, with a perspective limited to the next three word slogan or catchy headline, and no semblance of a statesmanlike approach. The essence of the Agreement has thus been trashed in pursuit of a populist anti European agenda. It is clear where the blame will lie for any bloodshed and death.

First damage to the fishing industry, then to exports, now taking Northern Ireland back to the 1970s. We don’t hear much about “Project Fear” now. Perhaps too close to the truth.

Arthur Streatfield

Bath

After 100 days of Brexit, Johnson’s great master plan is unraveling. This is just the start but one of the biggest with his personal signature all over it: the Northern Ireland protocol. Johnson will attempt in his usual manner to postpone any problems by appealing to the EU and Joe Biden to delay its implementation until 2022; but how long can he keep it up when so many Johnson-traps are waiting around the corner?

Peter Smith-Cullen

Dunston, Norfolk

Electoral reform

John Rentoul (‘Electoral reform is never going to be a “priority” for the Labour Party’, 8 April) asks whether proportional representation (PR) is really anybody’s priority? He doesn’t think so.

I believe it is. It is not a political issue, it is an ethical issue in terms of fairness and allowing the electorate to have a meaningful voice.

In the last election, it took 866,000 votes to elect one Green MP, 336,000 for a Lib Dem MP, 51,000 votes for a Labour MP, 38,000 votes for a Conservative MP, while the SNP needed 26,000 votes for each MP. Looking at these figures, and moving party loyalties to the side, I believe that the majority of people would question the fairness of the current voting system.

Combined with boundary changes, likely to benefit the Conservatives, these statistics mean that Labour may have no option but to remove the blinkers and start a dialogue on electoral reform with other parties. This hopefully would help engage our young people and let them see that, with reform, their vote will matter.

Paul Dickson

Peebles

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