Born on the Greek Island of Corfu, on a kitchen table, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark went on to shed his birth titles to marry Princess Elizabeth II, soon to be Queen of England. For 74 years he was her husband, making him the longest-serving consort in history. Philip’s passing was not a surprise given his recent health challenges and his very respectable innings of ninety-nine laps of the sun. Equally not surprising, is the outpouring of tributes for a man who was a respected Navy Commander, and an infamously sharp-tongued curmudgeon.
Prince Philip was far more than just Queen Elizabeth’s husband though, once describing his role as “the World’s most experienced plaque unveiler”. His tireless commitment saw him working for three decades beyond the regular Royal retirement age, visiting 143 countries, delivering 5,493 speeches, and attending 22,191 engagements over the course of his duty. But beyond the baby-kissing and handshaking, he also championed teen development with his Duke of Edinburgh Awards, gained military and commercial pilot’s licenses (for planes and helicopters), was an active environmentalist, and always said what he thought, often to the chagrin of Buckingham Palace’s publicity department.
In many ways, many of Prince Philip’s attributes can be seen as a blueprint of what it takes to win today in the world of radio and audio content creation. He demonstrated five core characteristics that are arguably essential ingredients for success.
He was hard-working. An important reminder to never let your work ethic slide. The most successful of us are always at the coalface and understand that staying on top and staying relevant often takes more work than getting there. Putting your feet up never leads to great accomplishments.
He was humble and supportive. He understood his place in ‘the team’ as the Queen’s Wingman and he knew he could not overstep the boundaries of his role. He was a vital cog in the engine of the Royal Family’s work, but he always saw the big picture for what it was. This is the same for Station or Show teams where it’s paramount that each player has a clear understanding of their place / unique role – and that they see the value in each other player for what they individually bring. Philip was famously self-deprecating, and this humility served him well.
He was committed to learning. He never stopped. His insatiable appetite for knowledge of both new skills and a deeper understanding of current events made him both relevant and refined. He could converse with 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds, factory workers, and university professors. Awareness of the world arms you with the weapon of relatability and only constant learning can give you that.
He had a cause. The planet – and long before it was cool. He pioneered environmental awareness and warned against practices like poaching, deforestation, and pollution. And not just serving plants and animals, he was also a Patron for over 800 charitable organizations. He used his position to build awareness of critical issues, of plights of the less fortunate; and in doing so, showed the human side. Charity work should be part of the DNA of every successful broadcaster too – it’s emotive and connective and shares deep values and vulnerabilities with the audience. And your input of time, love, and promotion will make a genuine difference to the cause.
He was bold and opinionated. Often dangerous but definitely memorable; his quips and sarcasm often formed a wake of headlines behind him. But like all HD personalities, he was authentic and fearless and for the occasional cringe, he was respected for his ‘tell it like it is’ attitude. Of course, this boldness sometimes led to negative reactions – he joked about it after the 1968 tour of Australia “as so often happens I discover that it would have been better to keep my mouth shut!”. Boldness shouldn’t be feared though when measured and planned, it’s the faster route to memorability than unadventurous monotony.
So never stop, work hard, keep learning, be humble, give a shit and do it unabashedly so the world can see who you are.
Vale Prince Philip 1921-2021