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Elizabeth, captive of tradition and training, could not have established this cordial atmosphere alone. Like all royal children before her, she was sheltered from childhood from the outside world, rarely met any commoner who was not a servant, was spared the experience of school .by a succession of royal tutors. But Philip, a relatively impoverished princeling, was reared like a commoner, has washed dishes, fired boilers, even played on a skittles team organized by the owner of a local pub. As husband to the Queen, he has literally brought the world to his wife's door, and opened that door wide on the world itself. Artists, writers, businessmen and even trade unionists who would have been shown the back door in Queen Victoria's day now lunch regularly at Buckingham Palace.
With a naval officer's knowledge of engineering and an amateur's enthusiasm for science, Philip has poked his head into factories and laboratories, has surprised and pleased workers and scientists with his knowledgeable questions (as the Queen stood by with often ill-concealed impatience). He speaks extemporaneously when he feels moved to it, does not hesitate to criticize, once told a group of industrialists tartly: "I'm afraid our nomen are a thousand times more harmful than the American yes-men. If we are to recover prosperity, we shall have to find ways of emancipating energy and enterprise from the frustrating control of the constitutionally timid."
He has a breezy common touch, once greeted some late-arriving newsmen with a comradely: "What pub were you boys at?" Observed the sedate Sunday Observer: "It may arouse misgivings in those who saw, with admiration, the reigns of King George V and King George VI achieve their resplendent success by very different means. But the new style of monarchy shows the vitality and adaptability of the ancient institutions; it suits the uncommon gifts and energies of the dynamic man who is now at the Queen's side; and, most important of all, it happily meets an urgent need."
The Consort. More than almost any other public office in all the world, the job of consort to a reigning Queen is what its holder chooses to make it. The vast, amorphous amalgam of protocol, precedent, precept and law which is the British constitution contains no passages outlining a consort's duty. Most of the consorts who preceded Philip did just what they chose. With a prosperous kingdom of his own, Philip of Spain only occasionally visited the British realm of his wife Mary Tudor, who reigned from 1553 to 1558. Methodical William of Orange (1689-1702), declaring firmly that he could never "hold on to anything by apron strings," gently elbowed his wife and coSovereign Mary Stuart aside, and ruled alone. Prince George of Denmark, consort of Queen Anne (1702-14), was described by contemporaries as "very fat, loving news, the bottle and the Queen"; he took so little interest in affairs of state that he has become English history's most forgotten man.