Death took on great names in the United States and Great Britain on Friday. The super powers mourn both on corridors of royalty and entertainment.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband and the longest-serving consort of any British monarch, has died at age 99.
In the US, rapper Earl Simmons, aka DMX, who had been on life support since April 2 following cocaine overdose, lost his fight. He died at 50.
A statement posted on the royal family’s website Friday morning said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family joins with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
Both DMX and Prince Philip are figures with a huge global influence, and the news of their death has stirred emotions.
“Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end,” the Simmons family said. “He loved his family with all of his heart, and we cherish the times we spent with him.”
Prince Philip spent 65 years supporting the queen, retiring from his public role in 2017 and staying largely out of the view since. In his active years, he helped set a new course for the monarchy, championing Britain itself, as well as environmental causes, science and technology.
AS for DMX, his music was often menacing and dark, with the occasional nod to Christian spirituality, New York Times noted. He committed crimes, served time in different correctional institutions and battled addiction long before he released an album, and his troubled past informed the gritty content and inimitable delivery of his rhymes.
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Dec. 18, 1970, Earl Simmons was the first and only child of Arnett Simmons and Joe Barker. He grew up in Yonkers, a city just north of the Bronx that became a hotbed of racial tension in the 1980s.
His father was an itinerant artist whom he rarely saw, and his mother struggled to raise him and his half sister Bonita in a violent neighborhood. In his memoir, “E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX” (2002, with Smokey D. Fontaine), he wrote that there was often little food at home while he was growing up and that as a precocious, hot-tempered and disobedient child, he was often beaten by his mother and her lovers.
He commandeered the stage with electrifying performances that ignited passion, selling millions of records. DMX was the first musician whose first five albums reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart. He was the standout artist on the Ruff Ryders label, often rapping over tracks by the star D.J. and producer Swizz Beatz. Rappers like Eve, Drag-On and the Lox, a group made up of Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch, also recorded on the label.
In the late 1980s he started performing as a beatboxer, creating beats using only his mouth, with a local rapper named Ready Ron. (He took the name DMX from the Oberheim DMX drum machine, a model popular in the 1980s.)
He said he was 14 when Ready Ron introduced him to crack cocaine by passing him what Mr. Simmons thought was marijuana. It’s an unfortunate taste that eventually ended his life.
On the other hand, Prince Philip won a reputation for his early efforts to help modernize the royal family’s image during a time of great change for Britain and the world, especially at the outset of Elizabeth’s reign in 1952. NBC noted that he also developed a reputation for the occasional brusque comment and crass, if not racist, jokes.
Philip helped bring the royals to life on television rather than through radio reports. He was the first member of the royal family to do a televised interview and he presented a show on a royal tour of the Commonwealth. He is also said to have had a hand in televising the queen’s coronation in 1953 and in organizing a groundbreaking 1969 television documentary about the family.
He championed causes that caught his imagination, and helped found the Royal Academy of Engineering, which promotes engineering excellence and education, and served as the first president of the World Wildlife Fund.
He created the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, a series of challenges to encourage young people to take up adventures in the outdoors, and had a hand in restoring both Windsor Castle after a devastating fire, and Westminster Abbey. He also promoted the use of the English language outside Britain in the years after the breakup of the British empire.
What’s more, he made the operations of the royal estates more efficient, according to royal biographer Ingrid Seward, who wrote “Prince Philip Revealed.”
NBC’s tales of his early life denotes adventure, crisis and military service. Born June 10, 1921, on the Greek island of Corfu, he was the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Greece’s king, Philip’s uncle, was forced to abdicate when Philip was a baby, and the family fled to Paris, with Philip famously carried to safety in a crib made from an orange box.
At age 7, he moved to England, where he lived at Kensington Palace, now home to Prince William. Philip lived there with his paternal grandmother, Victoria Mountbatten, and later attended Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland.
At 18, Philip joined the Royal Navy and graduated from the Britannia Royal Naval College as a top cadet. He saw active duty from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, and in 1945 at the end of World War II, he was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered.
Prince Philip renounced his Greek royal title and became a British citizen. Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, also gave him a new title: the Duke of Edinburgh.
However, as tributes pour in for the two, the distinction between them is seen beyond royalty and entertainment. Prince Philip was a life fully lived, while DMX was a life cut short. But they’ll both be missed.