It was a joy, even on a dull day, to watch the brightest Snowdrop in England take passengers along Liverpool’s Mersey river, providing a living art and history lesson as she sailed.
One of two ships painted as contemporary dazzle ships, Snowdrop is the only one in operation. The design was originally conceived in monochrome, but the artist added bright colours to make the design cheerful.
The project was a hat tip to wartime artists who covered British ships in black and white patterns, known as dazzle camouflage, to confuse any U-boats surfacing briefly to try to sink them. Torpedos needed to be fired just ahead of the boats which would continue on into them. Wild patterns were the sailors’ best hope of making it harder to work out which way their ship was travelling.
Sir Peter Blake was quoted in The Guardian as saying he feared what the reaction to the ‘dazzled’ ship might be in some quarters. He explained, ‘I was very respectful of it: I checked things like whether I was okay to change the funnel.’ That made me smile. For more about the project, check out the Liverpool Picturebook.
I’m sharing this dazzle ship as a token of respect and gratitude to Prince Philip who served on a ship during wartime and loved being at sea. Our Queen fell for him at first sight and this is a sorry day for those who loved him, including many British people unrelated to him other than by affection.
If I had rights to share the picture of Prince Philip standing in the pouring rain while inspecting troops, aged 97, doffing his bowler hat in respect, I would, for that image is how I will remember him.
There are prevarications around this but, for me, one of many consequences of sexism in British society is that while a man born to be king can have his wife sit beside him as queen, a woman born to be queen cannot have the equivalent, as king is held to have higher status than queen. I had hoped that might be addressed in Prince Philip’s lifetime but now it cannot be.