On this, the day of Queen Elizabeth’s ninety-fifth birthday, the loss of her husband of more years than I have been alive is especially poignant. My mother adored the queen. Maybe sharing the war years of my mother’s formative teens created a bond. Or it could have been their astrological birth sign.

Until I uncovered more information about the Queen’s husband, I had been uninformed about the Prince’s extensive efforts on behalf of the Environment. I had little idea the first time and little more the second I climbed the steps named after Philip, of what we shared. He left his name on those steps nine years before I first encountered them. I only learned this week what an indelible mark that climb made on him. It profoundly influenced me.

Looking up at Prince Philip’s Steps on Genovesa from Darwin Bay
Ascending Prince Philip’s Steps on Genovesa, climbing party viewed from above.

Not so much the dramatic and precipitous nature of the rock steps as what I encountered at the top struck and stayed with me.

Barren landscape studded with wildlife

In his book “Wildlife Crisis,” published in 1970 and unknown to me when I went there three years later, he stated, “It is here, above all, that the whole problem of conservation becomes most obvious.” The tenuous nature of the life that clings to that windswept bluff isolated in the blistering heat of the equator was astonishing.

Shortly after the Galapagos Conservation Trust was created in 1995, Prince Philip took an active interest and became a regular supporter of the Trust’s work.

An outspoken champion

While I have mixed feelings about monarchy, royalty and all the fal de ral and pomp involved, I have no interest in delving into that controversy. I am compelled to express the sadness I feel that in spite of public figures such as the Duke of Edinburgh making high profile efforts to call the fossil fuel industry out for the damage it does, they continue unabated.

Even with the Duke of Edinburgh’s outspokenness, we are still in dire straits. The climate crisis gets worse instead of better. There seems to be little genuine concern and willingness to make the changes needed by those who need to make them most. As steep and arduous a climb as the steps named after the Prince are, the struggle to right the damage we have done to nature remains even more daunting.

Species are going extinct at alarming rates and the juggernaut seems unstoppable. In recent days, the news has been so full of reports of worsening pollution, rising temperatures, increased CO2 emissions and more that I have lost track of the references and abandoned trying to track them down for the sake of verification. Instead I present this as my own lament at all we are losing and have lost. With it a plea, to redouble our efforts before all hope is lost. This effort is not limited to high profile names. It requires you and me and everyone we know doing all we can and then some more. And not ceasing to speak up whenever we can, for those who cannot.

Words fail me. More another time.

Good Night.


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