A week ago the world said 'farewell' to a great character.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, passed away at the grand old age of 99! Had he lived another eight or so weeks he would have turned 100. What a life! What a lifetime of experiences!
My Dad always reminded us that he was six days older than the Prince ... and he was!
My Dad, Arthur Maitland Le Feuvre, was born on June 4th 1921 and Prince Philip on June 10th. But that was all they had in common really.
My own Dad died many years ago ... on May 17th 1985 ... taken far too soon at the age of 63. But he remains alive for me, in my heart, in my memory. No matter that I haven't seen him physically for so many years, his love for me and my love for him remains the same.
Today will be a tough day - perhaps the toughest yet - for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. After more than 73 years of marriage and more than that of love, she will lay her beloved husband to rest. Because of the coronavirus restrictions which prevent crowds from gathering, it sounds like it will be a small and family affair in St George's Chapel in the family home - Windsor Castle. And perhaps that's how it should be.
I've been to Windsor many times, as I lived nearby for more than a decade, and it is a beautiful place. And I know that the 'locals' especially will want to be there to support her today, and I'm sure some will make that journey to the Castle to do so safely.
Now, whether you're a Royalist or not, you have to feel sympathy and sadness for the Queen and for the wider family. Even though the Prince lived such a long and active life, which I'm sure is to be celebrated, the loss of him will be deeply felt.
And so I, for one, am praying today for peace to fill the Queen's heart and soul. For her deep Christian faith to sustain her at this difficult time, and for her to know that she is supported and upheld not just by her family and friends, and the people in her own town, but by many around the world. Those who know her and knew the Prince and the many millions who do not and did not.
Yes, the Duke was a Prince and his family are Royal but ultimately they are all human beings and this time of bereavement will affect them as grief affects us all. That dreadful empty feeling of loss and grief which seems to suck the life out of you at times. So today I also pray for the Duke's children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and all those knew him and loved him, not as a leader or an iconic royal figure, but as a Dad, grandad, great grandfather, friend, boss.
'Grief' is something which affects us all differently. It can prevent us moving forward, to be always looking back. For some, it appears to have little effect, but I would argue even those who put on a brave face will know the suffering of bereavement, even if they don't wish to show it to the world. It is the human condition.
But over the years, since I lost my own darling Dad, I've learned that even though those we love may no longer be alongside us, and once the gut-wrenching sorrow has begun to dissipate just a little, even if it never entirely leaves us, there comes a point when we can smile again at the memory of those whom we have loved. They continue to enhance our lives, continue to make us the people we are and are yet to be, and they and their memory continue to fill our hearts with love and joy.
So today I just leave you with a thought that seems to express this a bit better than I can...