On the afternoon of 8 September 2022, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully in her sleep. She was 96 years old and, as the only monarch most of us have ever known, had been ever present in our lives.
Six days before, a working man passed away peacefully in a Sussex hospital. He was 80 years old. He and I shared DNA and a name, and he was the only father I have ever known.
While the titles, palaces, crowns, mitres, thrones and millions in cash passed instantly and automatically to The Queen’s successor – King Charles III – my father’s estate will pass into probate to ensure that Her/His Majesty’s government can extract every last ounce of flesh from his life of toil.
My father will not lie in state and there will be no day of national mourning. World leaders will not send letters of condolence to my family. Gun carriages will not carry my father to his final resting place; and he will not receive an 80-gun salute to mark his passing.
Despite all these differences in death as in life, The Queen and my father shared some common traits.
Throughout her reign, The Queen was the rock upon which a nation was built. She was its core and its backbone; its guiding light; the very best of us and who led by example. That was my dad. He was the fulcrum around which the Anthony clan was built. He was our moral compass; the person that set the standards by which myself and my sister were raised. Everything I like about myself – my work ethic, my respect for others (particularly women), my desire to do what’s right rather than what is easy – was inherited from my father. He taught me to walk and to talk. He taught me to fish and he taught me to drive. But, above all, he taught me to be a man.
On 12 May 1990, my father was stood beside me on the day I got married. The decision to have my father as my best man had been simple. My dad was the best man I knew. That was true when I was 25 and it remains true 32 years later.
Heroes and idols come and go: Bobby Moore, Muhammad Ali, David Bowie. But it is the footsteps of my father that I have tried hardest to follow. Those footsteps stopped on 2 September 2022 and, for the first time in my life, I don’t know where to go.
In my life I have been a boyfriend and a husband. A journalist and a father. A grandfather and a broadcaster and podcaster. But before all that, I was my father’s son. And although it required no effort on my part, it is one of the things of which I am most proud.
On 19 September, I will join with my fellow countrymen and countrywomen as we say goodbye to Her Majesty The Queen; perhaps the greatest ever Briton.
On 30 September, I will join my family and friends to say goodbye to my father; unquestionably the greatest dad of all.