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Queen's former chaplain speaks of Prince Philip's 'mature courageous faith' on what would have been his 100th birthday

by Chantalle Edmunds
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Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden has spoken of the Duke of Edinburgh's faith on what would have been his centenary calling him "an example to us all."

Philip, the nation's longest serving consort, died on April 9, just nine weeks before his milestone birthday.

In an interview with the BBC, Prince Edward said that, while the family would have "loved" the duke to have been able to experience his centenary, Philip would have been less than excited for the event.

The Earl of Wessex told the broadcaster: "He didn't really want all the fuss and bother. I think he wasn't really looking forward to the centenary, even if we were."

Rev Ashenden, who was a Queen's chaplain between 2008 and 2017, told Premier that Prince Edward's comments about Prince Philip came as no surprise to him: "Although he was a very private man and didn't talk about his faith, he had a renewed interest in Greek Orthodoxy, partly stimulated by his experience of the monasteries on Mount Athos, which are places of nuclear holiness, and beauty and very profound Christianity. 

"And the thing about being a Christian is just a simple, If God wants me to be here in my body, all well and good, but the fact is, I'm longing to be with Jesus, and I'm built for heaven. And I've been preparing for heaven for years. And I think that I have no doubt at all that Prince Philip's mature, courageous faith would have meant that he wouldn't have wanted to hang around in an increasingly crumbling body, but would have been perfectly prepared and ready to die. And I think in that sense, he's an example to all of us, as it's important with all the saints, we're not supposed to hang on to life here forever. We've been built for heaven and we are preparing for it," he said.

As to how the Queen may be drawing on her faith on her husband's birthday, Rev Ashenden added that it's likely the Queen will be giving thanks:

"One of the first things that Christians learn to do is to give thanks for the ways in which God enriches our lives, and particularly with the people who've loved us and we've loved. So I think that as she says her prayers in the morning, she probably says, 'Lord, thank you for the gift of this new day. Thank you for my health. Thank you for these years. Thank you for my family. Thank you, above all, for the love of a very, very good man and the blessing of a very good marriage.' So I think she'll do it with praise and with gratitude and Thanksgiving."

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