WEST VILLAGE, Manhattan — It was the number one topic of conversation at the British restaurant Tea & Sympathy on Greenwich Avenue.
“I was lucky enough to meet him at Buckingham Palace,” Leon Champion, a British expat, told PIX11 News. “A man that definitely voiced an opinion, open and frank, and captivated a room.”
They were toasting the memory of Prince Philip, who passed away at age 99 Friday morning.
Among the Camden Hells beer and fish and chips, they were remembering a man who was married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years, who may have been a womanizer and was sometimes politically incorrect, an adventurer whose dreams may never have been realized, according to the popular TV series “The Crown” but he was, according to his fans, so devoted to duty and the monarchy.
“He’ll be sadly missed. A national treasure,” Dominick Reilly, a Tea & Sympathy patron, told PIX11 News. “I loved watching him in ‘The Crown,’” he added.
Some respected him for playing second fiddle to the queen.
“I like the fact that he was man enough in a decade when it was unacceptable, he was willing to subjugate himself and become the second string,” Sean Kavanaugh’s-Dowsett, owner of Tea & Sympathy, said Friday. “She will always be be the queen and he would always be the second string player.”
And even though the Duke of Edinburgh was a descendent of Greek and Danish royal families, the editor of the “Fe-mail” women’s column in the Daily Mail wants us all to remember how hard his early life was.
“He was born into incredibly difficult circumstances,” Charlie Lankston said. “He fled Corfu as an exile, as a baby taken out in a fruit box. He lost his sister and her two children, he was not someone who came into the world and lived an easy life.”
Royals expert Diane Clehane says theirs was definitely a love match that dates back to when they met, when Elizabeth was 13 and Philip was 18, but don’t expect much emotion at next weekend’s funeral.
“She has been preparing for this, bracing for this. I think with her it will be a quiet grief,” Clehane said. “She’ll be keeping calm and carrying on.”