Why – here’s a Celtic ‘Happy Birthday’, Phil the Greek

Ninety years old … and it’s a big Welsh Happy Birthday to Phil the Greek!

He’s the man who’s lived 64 years in shadowland … always lurking behind the Queen … a man living in the shadow of a powerful woman, and many men in Wales think they know EXACTLY what that means!

This is the man who never got crowned himself because his family were kicked out of Greece. Then he married the Queen of England, but never got crowned there either. This is the man who had to kneel before his wife at her coronation and pledge  to be her “liege man of life and limb”.

He’s got his very own coat of arms … with a positive statement that really ought to be a prayer … but his situation can’t  have been easy throughout life.

Coat of Arms of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.svg

No crown, no recognition for his standing … you know he couldn’t pass his own name on to his children, either? As he himself protested “I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.”

Oh yes! The Welsh love the oppressed under dog, especially if he’s oppressed by the English!

You see, whatever the rights and wrongs (and no Welshman living by me is very much of a monarchist) over and above it all, you’ve got to say Prince Philip is one heck of a character. And there’s nothing we like more in Wales than character (apart perhaps from ‘a good laugh’ – and it looks like he well meets that requirment too). In Wales we love Prince Phillip’s wildest comments. We LOVE the  fact that ‘He’s a boy!’ … it’s an ACCOLADE around here … and here’s why I think that this a good thing too.

See it like this: no-one doubts the benefits of animal and plant BIOdiversity. It’s accepted as a given … an orthodoxy you cannot question. The biosphere is stronger and more resilient for biodiversity.

Yet where character is concerned … it is sameness and conformity – ‘normality’ that generally (I’d say mistakenly) gets preferred.

But where quality of life is concerned … where life in human society is concerned … Welsh Wales tends to reckon that character-diversity is really worthy of a little bit of cherishment.

The reason we like Phil is that he’s the one living Royal you can trust to come out with the sort of thing your auntie’d say

… and then everyone would laugh.

And the day would be brighter.

As would every day when the story was retold.

Which it always would be.

Quite a lot.

What Phil has got in spades is not bio-diversity, but character-diversity … and that actually counts in Wales as SOCIAL WEALTH!

And we need that wealth of diversity in God’s Church.

Unity? Yes.

Not same-ness.

But unity.

Not plainsong … but harmony.

Unity striven has to be striven for (Ephesians 1:11) because that is the eternal plan and purpose of God in Christ.

But that unity is created in a shared life of cherished diversity:

  • different backgrounds (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
  • different origins (Galatians 3:28)
  • different gifts ( 1 Corinthians 12:12)
  • different character-types (2 Peter 3:15-16)

Harnessed in harmonic unity. And you don’t get to pick who you sit next to, and you don’t get to pick out just friends to come, and you have to get over yourself and get on with everybody else … so that “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) And we’re better for it.

Of course it isn’t EASY to live with characters. But it definitely IS rich … and that richness should still be LIVING in God’s church!

So (God help you) happy birthday, Phil the Greek!


About welshrev

Simon is a church planting pastor and Rural Chaplain based at Grace Church Llandeilo and serving the Heart of Wales. He has a Facebook page as Rev Simon Bowkett and the Grace Church website has lots of information and resources at www.grace-llandeilo.org.uk Facebook page is 'Grace Christian Community Llandeilo' ... you would be welcome to drop by there for a chat!
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