United Kingdom

Fury as Greens blast Prince Philip in the Scottish Parliament over his love of 'bloodsports' 

The leader of the Scottish Green Party sparked fury today with a mealy-mouthed tribute to Prince Philip over the ceremony given to his death in the middle of the Covid pandemic. 

Patrick Harvie contrasted the national mourning since the Duke's death at the age of 99 on Friday with that shown to 150,000 people who have died in the UK since last Spring.

He used his speech in a special Holyrood session called to mark the death of the Queen's consort to faintly praise his life-long environmentally, sniffily saying it came despite his love of  'the bloodsports of the wealthy'.

The 48-year-old republican was the only taint on the session at the Scottish Parliament called to allow politicians to mark the historic occasion. 

Nicola Sturgeon, who wants Scottish independence, praised Prince Philip for his devotion to the Queen as 'the husband of a powerful woman' today as the home nations commemorated his death.

But when his time came to make remarks, Mr Harvie said her offered his party's 'sincere condolences' to 'all those who will miss him, adding: 'In this chamber as in this country we do not all share the same views of the monarchy or the same feelings today. It would be wrong to pretend that we did.'

He went on: 'This has been a year of terrible loss, for the world, including up to 150,000 Covid deaths across the UK, most of them announced without ceremony as daily statistics.

'The toll has been heaviest on those with least. But while there is no great leveller in how we live our lives we are today reminded there is no extreme of wealth, privilege or status which can protect us from mortality… 

Patrick Harvie contrasted the national mourning since the Duke's death at the age of 99 on Friday with that shown to 150,000 people who have died in the UK since last Spring.

Scotland's First Minister told a specially called session of the Scottish Parliament that he had been 'a thoughtful man, deeply interesting and fiercely intelligent' with whom she had bonded over a love of books. They are pictured in Tweedbank in 2015.

Patrick Harvie's full speech at Holyrood 

'Let me join the other leaders in offering my sincere condolences to Prince Philip's family, his friends and all those who will miss him.

'In this chamber as in this country we do not all share the same views of the monarchy or the same feelings today. It would be wrong to pretend that we did.

'And as a party which wishes for an elected head of state we reflected carefully on whether and how we should take part in today's proceedings. 

'But just as it would be wrong to give a performance of feelings not sincerely felt, it would equally be wrong to imply by our absence any kind of personal disrespect to those who have lost someone important to them, either personally or otherwise.

'This has been a year of terrible loss, for the world, including up to 150,000 Covid deaths across the UK, most of them announced without ceremony as daily statistics.

'The toll has been heaviest on those with least. But while there is no great leveller in how we live our lives we are today reminded there is no extreme of wealth, privilege or status which can protect us from mortality…

'In this respect every human being is indeed equal, death comes to us all and every family feels the pain of loss.

'So regardless of our different views, respect and compassion are due in equal measure to everyone of us at such times.

'Such moments bring pain to family and friends and for a public figure like Prince Philip others will share that pain, to a greater or lesser degree. But for an individual, a family or a society, death is also part of life's cycle, bringing a change of the generations

'Those who come after will build on the legacy of what they have left but will also rethink, reinvent and alter course

'They still owe much to those who went before, who may have lived by different values.

'Many have spoken about Prince Philip's environmentalism. Today's environmental movement overwhelmingly places responsibility for the global crisis on the powerful and would not seek to reconcile conservation with the bloodsports of the wealthy.

'Yet it is still the case that a debt is owed to those whose environmentalism did achieve global awareness, even if it was shaped by different values to today's.

'It is said Prince Philip wished to modernise the monarchy and no doubt in time it will again consider if it can do so. How a royal family can keep pace with the modern democratic society it is supposed to serve and how it must show respect for the diversity of that society in its words and its deeds.

'Others will question whether it can, whether it should retain its place or not. That debate is not for today.

'Today is a moment to extend our thoughts to Prince Philip's family and to all those who are grieving for their loved ones in a spirit of respect for the equal value of every human life.'

'In this respect every human being is indeed equal, death comes to us all and every family feels the pain of loss.

'So regardless of our different views, respect and compassion are due in equal measure to everyone of us at such times. ' 

The late Duke helped found the Worldwide Fund for Nature in 1961 and devoted a large chunk of his life to green causes, something his passed on to his eldest son, the Prince of Wales.

But he was also a keen fan of country sports, including shooting and fox hunting. 

Addressing this in his speech, Mr Harvie said: 'Many have spoken about Prince Philip's environmentalism. Today's environmental movement overwhelmingly places responsibility for the global crisis on the powerful and would not seek to reconcile conservation with the bloodsports of the wealthy.

'Yet it is still the case that a debt is owed to those whose environmentalism did achieve global awareness, even if it was shaped by different values to today's.

He continued: 'It is said Prince Philip wished to modernise the monarchy and no doubt in time it will again consider if it can do so: how a royal family can keep pace with the modern democratic society it is supposed to serve and how it must show respect for the diversity of that society in its words and its deeds.

'Others will question whether it can, whether it should retain its place or not. That debate is not for today.

Holyrood and the Welsh Assembly today sat for sessions allowing politicians to pay their respects to the Duke, and Westminster will join them this afternoon.

Despite her separatist politics Ms Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, told Holyrood that Philip had been 'a thoughtful man, deeply interesting and fiercely intelligent' with whom she had bonded over a love of books.

Putting forward a motion of condolence this morning, Mr Sturgeon said that the monarch and her late husband were 'a true partnership'.

'He faced the additional challenge of being the husband of a powerful woman at a time when that was even more of an exception than it is today,' Ms Sturgeon said.

'That reversal of the more traditional dynamic was highly unusual in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and even now isn't as common as it might be.

'Yet, the Duke of Edinburgh was devoted to supporting the Queen - they were a true partnership.'

The First Minister also said the role of consort to the Queen 'cannot be an easy one, particularly for someone who is spirited and energetic by temperament'. 

In a more personal passage, the First Minister added: 'I was struck by how different he was in private to the way he was sometimes characterised in public. 

'He was a thoughtful man, deeply interesting and fiercely intelligent. He was also a serious bookworm, which I am too so talking about the books we were reading was often, for me, a highlight of our conversations.'    

The Scottish Parliament has sent its 'deepest sympathies' to the Queen following the death of Prince Philip.

Leading a motion of condolence in Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: 'It is right that our parliament pays tribute to him today.

'In doing so, we mourn his passing and we extend our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and her family.

'We reflect on his distinguished war-time record, his love and support for the Queen and his decades of public service to Scotland, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

'Above all, we celebrate and we honour an extraordinary life.'

Putting forward a motion of condolence this morning, Mr Sturgeon said that the monarch and her late husband were 'a true partnership'.

The First Minister (pictured with the royals in 2017) also said the role of consort to the Queen 'cannot be an easy one, particularly for someone who is spirited and energetic by temperament'.

And new labour leader Anas Sarwar told Holyrood: 'On Friday we lost an extraordinary public servant, who dedicated his long life to our country, as well as transforming lives for young people across the world, and promoting the issue of global conservation that we all now recognise is so important.

'On behalf of the entire Scottish Labour Party, I offer my condolences to everyone in mourning here and across the Commonwealth, all his loved ones, the Royal Family, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and in particular Her Majesty the Queen.

'For more than seven decades, Prince Philip was a constant at the Queen's side.

'None of us can even begin to understand the pressure of being monarch, in what has often been described as a lonely job.

'But we know from all that has been said and written how much the Queen cherished the support, counsel, and love of her husband.

'And while their lives might have been very different to ours, as humans we can all empathise with what it means to lose a loved one.'

The early return of Parliaments in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff came after a weekend in which all four of Philip's children spoke movingly about the loss of their father.

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, led tributes in the Senedd, saying: 'The Government in this Parliament... I extend our sincerest sympathies at the end of an exceptional life lived.'

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