So, Philip Mountbatten, born Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderbutg-Glucksburg, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Consort of the United Kingdom, and many other titles, died peacefully at age 99 on April 9 about 2 months shy of making it to 100. I am not going to either praise him or poke at him, with his long history that contains many things on both sides of that open to judgment. Certainly he was part of a colonialist monarchy, but them most of its empire broke up and went away during the period he was in his position in the British monarchy. I am more interested in some related items, noting initially that all sorts of people will be making lots of silly tings out of this ,starting with Brian Kilmeade of Fox News who somehow has decided that it is all the fault of Harry and Meghan having their interview with Oprah Winfrey. Not.
I do not think it triggered his death, which seems to have been coming for some time and almost happened during his recent long stay in the hospital. But I am noting the odd coincidence that the day before he died saw the worst outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland in decades, possible since the famous Easter Peace agreement came about, which led to a long largely peaceful period between the two sharply split communities in Northern Ireland. What is sad to me is that I especially saw this coming as an outcome of Brexit since visiting Belfast four years ago, taking a train from Dublin to there and back, no notice of crossing the border at all either way. We took a tour around the formerly “troubled” neighborhoods, now troubled again. One does not hear much about them, especially given how quiet they have been for so long. But there are still high walls in places with unpleasant graffiti on them and numerous signs that the people on each side of those walls really do not like each other much and have sharply conflicting memories about what happened back then, even as all then were saying they supported the peace agreement.
An important part of that peace was that UK was in the European Union, which made it easy to have the essentially open border with the Republic of Ireland to the south while remaining part of the United Kingdom, the essential compromise underlying the peace, even as some on each side would prefer different outcomes or situations. It was clear as the negotiations with EU on Brexit proceeded that the Irish question was one of the hardest issues to deal with, and the compromise made has now led to unhappiness and renewed conflict between the communities, with teenagers on both sides engaging in conflict, although it seems to have started with Protestant Unionist ones unhappy with the creeping economic border between Northern Ireland and the rest of UK on the island of Britain in place to keep the border with Ireland open as it has been. They see this as creeping towards unification with the Republic of Ireland, which has become more likely as the population balance has become more even in Ulster where in the past the Protestant Unionists easily outnumbered the Irish republicans. It looks like the fears I and others had that Brexit could lead to the end of the peace agreement were unfortunately very well founded.
As for the Battenberg link, well that was what the Mountbattens were called in England prior to World War I, when their blatantly German name came to be an embarrassment, so given that “berg” in Germans means “mountain,” changing the name to Mountbatten, with this accruing to Phillip’s influential uncle, lord “Dickie” Mountbatten, of whom Prince Charles was reportedly very close to. Lord Mountbatten was a high commander in the UK navy in WW II and helped arrange the marriage of his nephew to then Princess Elizabeth, who reportedly fell hard for him when they met in 1939. He took the name of his uncle when he became a British citizen on marrying her in 1947.
Anyway, Lord Mountbatten has an estate on the coast of Ireland. He would be killed along with several other people in 1979 when he was on a yacht off his estate with them in a bomb attack by the IRA, probably their most famous and notorious such bomb attack. The peace agreement had put all that sort of thing in the past. But now we may be heading back to such things. It is indeed ironic that this reappearance of the violence that killed his uncle reappeared on the day before Prince Philip died.