Much of my world view of international politics in the late ’60s, early ’70s was gleaned from the work of the great Toronto Star editorial cartoonist Duncan Macpherson. One example, above, shows HRH Prince Philip, returning home from a royal visit to Canada with multiple cowboy hats. His wife, The Queen, waits with a rolling pin. On the throne, newspaper headlines covering all the stupid things Philip said on his trip.
The Duke of Edinburgh passed away April 9, just two months shy of his 100th birthday. Besides the occasional mis-speak, he and I had one other thing in common — June 10, our birthdays. He had, however, a few years on me.
A writer for CBC News, Janet Davison, interviewed me recently about the Netflix series The Crown and, in particular, the way Philip was depicted. In the most recent seasons, the actor playing him was Tobias Menzies.
Now, first of all — was there ever a better name for an actor? “And the Emmy goes to… Tobias Menzies!”
It is my view that Menzies erased some of the buffoonery from Philip’s image — or at least the view Macpherson and others burnished — by portraying the Prince as often the most reasonable person in the palace. Menzie’s Prince, I told Davison, was “a no-nonsense but admirable guy, much more sympathetic than conventional wisdom about the man.”
The best example of Philip as a sympathetic character came this past season on The Crown when the Prince was eventually shown meeting weekly with clergymen who were housed on the palace grounds. That guy seemed like somebody who learned from his mistakes. The Crown is a drama, not a documentary, but it is fact-based. It was a depiction I hope is generally true.
Philip’s death will surely trigger new documentaries that may provide a more balanced view. In the meantime, God Save the Queen and the treasured works of Duncan Macpherson.