House of Lords
Monday 12 April 2021
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Gloucester.
A minute’s silence was observed in memory of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Motion for an Humble Address
To move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows—
“Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to convey to Your Majesty the heartfelt sympathy of this House on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Prince Philip gave selfless public service to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for over seventy years. He will be remembered for His distinguished Naval service in the Second World War and, following marriage to Your Majesty, for His energy and commitment across so many areas of national life, including conservation, science and technology, design, sport and Your Armed Forces. His major achievement in creating the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme has transformed the lives of millions of young people around the world. Above all His role at the side of Your Majesty, supporting Your life of service as our Sovereign and encouraging the work of Your family, has been a steadfast presence for us all.
We assure Your Majesty that His memory will be held dear by those who knew Him and honoured in the history of our country. Our prayers join with those of the entire nation for His Royal Highness, and for Your Majesty and all the Royal Family at this sad time of loss and sorrow.”
My Lords, it is right that we come together today, in person and virtually, to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts are first and foremost with Her Majesty the Queen, who has lost the person whom she described as her “strength and stay”. The humble Address rightly conveys the heartfelt sympathy of this House and assures Her Majesty and all the Royal Family of our prayers. Together with them, we mourn.
The nation and the whole Commonwealth has lost one of its greatest figures, but let us also remember that he was a Member of this House. He was introduced on 21 July 1948, just before Earl Mountbatten of Burma—someone who was supremely formative in his early life. Although he never spoke in this House, he attended countless times alongside Her Majesty the Queen for the State Opening of Parliament. The images of them walking through the Royal Gallery and seated on the Thrones behind me are some of the most iconic of our age.
Looking beyond the splendour and pageantry, however, it is an image that goes to the heart of their relationship. It speaks of patience, constancy and fidelity. The visible presence of Prince Philip alongside Her Majesty the Queen for over seven decades provides a glimpse into the unique role he played in private, supporting Her Majesty and serving the Crown humbly and selflessly. Today, we give thanks for the sacrifices he made and for the immeasurable good that he did. His legacy will live on, as will our sincere gratitude.
I now call on the Lord Privy Seal to move the Motion for the humble Address.
My Lords, we are here today to remember and pay tribute to the life of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as we mourn the loss of the “strength and stay” to Her Majesty, our country and the Commonwealth. However, we also gather to commemorate and celebrate Prince Philip’s extraordinary life, distinguished by decades of dutiful, loyal and selfless service.
He was the embodiment of public service in the truest sense. On his retirement, at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace revealed that he had undertaken 22,191 solo engagements, made 635 overseas visits on his own account, delivered 5,493 speeches and authored 14 books. He was colonel-in-chief of eight regiments and was patron, president or otherwise associated with 992 different organisations. He served honourably and with distinction in the Second World War, being mentioned in dispatches for his service aboard HMS “Valiant” during the Battle of Cape Matapan. This was only the beginning of a promising naval career. He later took command of his own ship, HMS “Magpie”, and it is widely considered that he would have reached the very highest ranks of the Navy had he continued his full-time service. In almost a century, he lived through the invention of the jet engine, man setting foot on the moon and the creation of the internet.
After Her Majesty acceded to the throne, Prince Philip’s devoted service spanned the terms of 14 British Prime Ministers—Sir Winston Churchill being the first—as well as countless leaders across the Commonwealth and beyond. Within the Commonwealth in particular, Prince Philip was highly respected and held in deep affection. He understood long before others how the modern Commonwealth network was and is, in Her Majesty’s own words,
“in many ways the face of the future”.
Prince Philip was a modern man, a trailblazer ahead of his time, from becoming one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy to being appointed the first president of the World Wildlife Fund UK. He was passionate about engineering and industry, a pioneer of the sport of carriage driving and a champion of environmental causes long before they became mainstream. I was one of the millions of young people who benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, completing the bronze, silver and gold awards while at school. It was the DofE, as it is known in families across the country, that first taught me the importance of public service. For my community service, I volunteered in a mental health centre and in a care home—experiences that I remember to this day and which helped shape the person I am. This remarkable scheme now inspires and empowers young people in over 140 countries across the world and will remain a fitting and lasting legacy.
I had the honour of meeting the Duke of Edinburgh most recently at a lunch following a Privy Council meeting at Windsor. I could not help but feel nervous when I realised that I was seated next to him, but he immediately put me at ease with his wit and charm. He liked to say that he could make anyone laugh within 15 seconds. Well, I might have been an easy target, but he did just that. While he sipped on a pint of beer, we discussed the skill that I had ingeniously picked for my gold Duke of Edinburgh award—wine making. It rather tickled him. His conversation and company were warm and welcoming, and I feel extremely privileged to have spent that time with him.
Of course, Prince Philip was a Member of this House, and I know that many of your Lordships knew him in various capacities and to differing degrees. Noble Lords will have their own memories and stories of him, as he left a lasting impression on all who met him. I look forward to hearing some of them today.
Her Majesty and Prince Philip were married for 73 years—an example to us all—with four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Prince Philip was a proud and devoted husband and family man. He was also the longest-serving consort in British history, an unfailing and stoic stalwart to Her Majesty. His willingness to forgo his distinguished naval career and devote his life to supporting Her Majesty forged an unrivalled partnership. There are many reminders of the late Queen Victoria and Prince Albert around our House. They are immortalised in portraits above the throne in the Robing Room and in statues in the Prince’s Chamber. Like Victoria and Albert, Her Majesty and Prince Philip were a formidable team who achieved so much together. Generations to come will remember them in that way.
To The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, we owe a tremendous debt of thanks for a lifetime dedicated to Her Majesty, Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, our country and the Commonwealth. He put service and duty above self—a legacy for which he will be remembered and a model for us all to follow. Prince Philip will be greatly missed by all those who knew him, met him and respected him from afar. This country has suffered a great loss and our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with Her Majesty the Queen and all the Royal Family. I beg to move.
My Lords, when a life spans almost a century, each generation will have a different perception and different memories of that person. Since the announcement of the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and the press coverage of his extraordinary life, so many have said, in some admiration, “I didn’t know that”. For a man who lived most his life in the full glare of public interest and attention, that is unusual. It illustrates not just the longevity of his life or his position, but his interests, contribution and personality, and the range and depth of his public service.
Across the world, he is of course best known for being the person Her Majesty the Queen described as “my strength and stay”. That statement, in its simplicity, captures the essence and significance of his role as her consort. For anyone in public life, but especially in the role and for the work expected of Her Majesty, the need for someone whom you can trust, love, admire and rely on without reservation is essential.
Over the past few days, it has been very clear that the nation, and, indeed, the world, has nothing but respect, admiration and affection for his unfailing support and unstinting loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen. It is a role for which there is no blueprint, but the integrity, honesty and character of His Royal Highness made it a role for which he has now perhaps written that blueprint. But to see the Duke’s life through only that lens is not enough.
Many, after reading about his life for the first time, will not have known of his unconventional start in life or the challenges and complexities of his family. They may not have been aware of his impressive naval career, which he would have expected to continue, had he not fallen in love with the young Princess Elizabeth. Theirs was not an 18th-century arranged marriage to cement political alliances but a genuine love that endured. And perhaps—because each generation thinks it is the first to discover innovation and modernisation—some would not have been aware of how progressive he was in so many areas. When we are young, we seek to force the pace of change and, as we get older, we get more irritable at those behind us, pushing to go faster and further. Those reading about the young Prince Philip for the first time would not have been aware of his fascination and enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, science and technology.
Looking back at those early speeches, they were at times controversial but they were also very forward-looking, which is perhaps why they were sometimes controversial. They were also very prescient, particularly regarding environmental impacts. When chairing the commission for the 1953 coronation, he proposed that cameras be allowed inside Westminster Abbey for the coronation for the very first time. Many, including the Prime Minister, were horrified and opposed; some even considered him to be a dangerous radical. But it went ahead and, for the first time ever in the UK, the 20 million people who watched—many crowded around the small black and white sets they had rented for the day—outnumbered radio listeners. It was the first major world event to be broadcast live on TV, and we saw TV starting to take over from cinema newsreels as the mainstream media.
Prince Philip’s relationship with the press and politicians was not always easy. A mixture of quick wit and impatience led to some interesting headlines. But too many one-dimensional and partial reports offered an incomplete picture of an essentially private man. Yet across the country, many are now retelling stories—some real, some embellished, some no doubt apocryphal—of meetings and conversations that he had, and they are doing so with great affection. Many in your Lordships’ House will have known and met His Royal Highness. Some will want to share those memories; others will cherish them in private. I have my own memories, and I recall them with a smile.
No reflection on His Royal Highness’s life can possibly be complete without recognition of the remarkable Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which for decades has transformed the lives of millions of young people from all walks of life. It was pioneering and has stood the test of time, continuing to challenge, reward and enrich both individuals and communities.
His Royal Highness was clear, in both life and death, that he did not want, in his words, “a fuss”. Yet we want to pay our respects and recognise the importance of his role in our nation’s history. The humble Address today is to Her Majesty the Queen. Even with all the press coverage and the thousands of conversations about his life across the whole country today, the great loss is of a much-loved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, family member and friend. From these Benches, we offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.
My Lords, trying to sum up the life of Prince Philip and his contribution to our national life in a few minutes is quite a challenge. But a good place to start is Prince Philip’s own views on the matter. When asked to sum up his contribution to public life, he responded with typical frankness:
“I've just done what I think is my best. Some people think it's all right. Some don't. What can you do? I can't change my way of doing things. It's part of my style. It's just too bad, they'll have to lump it.”
For Prince Philip, doing one’s best had several distinct components. He obviously did his best as a loyal, steadfast, and supportive consort to his wife. Given his early naval career, to fulfil the role of Queen’s consort clearly required a major gear change. That cannot have been easy, yet he did it with great devotion and aplomb. When people look back on this Elizabethan age, they will see how much it was sustained by the extremely close partnership between Prince Philip and the Queen.
But while fulfilling the role of consort with great dedication, he took a leaf out of Prince Albert’s book and devoted a huge amount of energy to a wide range of causes and positions which sought to improve the lives of people and protect our planet. The work he did over many years with WWF was ground-breaking and his views about the interconnectedness of all species and the responsibility which we have to protect them, although commonplace now, were widely pooh-poohed at the time.
As we have heard, his sponsorship of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme was even more significant; it has touched and transformed the lives of millions of young people across the country and the world. For me, without the scheme I would not know how to do a fireman’s lift, would never have struggled to put up a tent on the Yorkshire Moors in a howling gale, would never have tried to coax a reluctant Primus stove into life. Some of these skills have proved more useful in later life than others but, as with everyone else who has participated in the scheme—sadly, in my case, only to bronze level—it gave me a broadening of horizons, a greater sense of self-reliance and a greater awareness of the natural world. For me, the scheme was a useful complement to adolescence but, for many more, it was a life changer and even a lifesaver. Of course, Prince Philip had a formal connection with literally hundreds of charities and other bodies, all of which have expressed their gratitude to the contribution he made to their work.
My own experience of being with the Duke of Edinburgh is limited to the period when I was Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard and so attended various functions at various palaces. My wife was also able to join me at some of these. When introduced to the Duke of Edinburgh for the first time, Ailsa was asked where we lived. She replied that she was rector of Putney and that we therefore lived there. “Good heavens,” he exclaimed, “are there Christians in Putney?”
The last time I was in his company was at a formal dinner at St James’s Palace for members of the Yeomen of the Guard and their wives. It was a bitterly cold winter evening and the Queen and Duke—already in his 90s—came from Buckingham Palace, in formal evening dress, and spent about 45 minutes talking to groups of yeomen and their wives. They did so with great energy, put everyone at ease and really engaged in this series of short conversations. As the Queen and Duke left, I escorted them part of the way and then left them to make their way out down a long corridor. Watching them from behind, I could make out an animated conversation and an occasional chuckle. They had enjoyed it but, more importantly, they had made all those to whom they had spoken feel special and valued. To have a monarch and consort who, over many decades, have together and individually made people from the widest possible range of groups across our society feel special and valued has been a huge blessing for this country.
Today we send our condolences to the Queen and the Royal Family for a personal loss. But as a country we mourn the passing and celebrate the achievements of someone who for over 70 years sought to develop the individual spirit and promote the common good.
My Lords, it is a great but melancholy privilege to speak on behalf of the Cross Benches. I do so in wholehearted support of the Motion and in complete agreement with the three speeches that have already been made. We are indeed reflecting on a shared sense of national loss that has followed the death of a man who made a remarkable and indeed unique—it is very occasionally that you can use that word correctly—contribution to national life and universal sympathy for the personal loss of Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family. In truth, there is nothing much more for me to add—it has all been said—but there are some occasions when, and some people for whom, sustained repetition is amply justified. It is so in this case.
I am going to begin in Malta in August 1942. I was a small baby there. Against overwhelming enemy attacks, the shattered remains of the Pedestal convoy entered Grand Harbour. In Malta they still celebrate that occasion: the Santa Marija convoy. The very last conversation I had with my Maltese grandmother happened to be on that anniversary. She was entirely lucid well into her 90s. She spoke about starvation and that convoy, and with some force reminded me so simply, “A lot of brave men died for us.” His Royal Highness was not serving on that particular convoy, but he was at sea fighting in the Mediterranean, along with vast numbers of brave men who had already died or who would, in my grandmother’s simple words, die for us.
Today, of course, very few of those who fought and survived the war are still with us, and those who did are very old. Any tribute to those who risked death and mutilation should reflect just a little deeply that they were not the old men and women they are now; they were young men and women in the prime of their lives, in the flower and promise of youth, when there was all to lose and there should have been much more to come. My grandchildren are that age. Those of us in the Chamber and in the House have children and grandchildren of that age.
Noble Lords will forgive me if I remain briefly in Malta. As a small boy I saw a black-and white-photograph—there was no television, no colour, no photographs beyond that; there was still food rationing—of the wedding of the radiant Princess and her young, handsome naval officer. At least, that is what my mother said, and she should have known. We then learned that the young couple were going to live in Malta. My memory is that the delight was almost palpable. My certain knowledge now is that their time together in Malta continues to be a source of national pride. Everyone in Malta knew they were there. Everyone knew where they lived. Most people still know where they lived: a pleasant non-palatial house in a small village outside Valletta called Gwardamanġa. There were no paparazzi, intrusive photography or plaguing interference; they were just allowed to get on with their lives and were left alone. They were, of course, not quite any young couple, but nevertheless they had the responsibilities of a young couple, not the immense burdens, responsibilities and unending duties of state, Empire and Commonwealth for which the call came sadly early and to which, as others have already said, they both gave a dedicate response. As we reflect on that response, we should be rather humbled by it and left a little breathless at their joint achievement. It is rather a chilling thought that I offer that the fulfilment of their duties to us has meant that, in truth, since 1952 they have never really been left alone.
Many years after they left Malta, Her Majesty the Queen came to open a court at Leamington Spa accompanied by His Royal Highness, who was well into his 90s. From my point of view the symbolism was crucial: this demonstrates that the judiciary is the Queen’s judiciary; it is not the Prime Minister’s or Parliament’s, it is hers. The principle was underlined at the ceremony. Then, of course, we had a visit around the building on a very carefully set route that was all organised. I was with His Royal Highness. Noble Lords will be interested to know that we did not adhere to the planned route: we changed direction and went round one corner, I am sure deliberately, just a little too early. Our route took us past a number of closed doors. Every time we passed a closed door, he said to the person next to it, “What goes on in there? Where does that lead?”, or something to that effect. Somebody would give the explanation and he would immediately say, “Open it.” We opened a number of doors that were not supposed to have been opened. When he thought the job inside had been done well, he said, “Good.” When he did not, he did not. It was one short simple word, but quite good enough to convey far more than gushy, flowery compliments that that was well done. As the noble Lord, Lord Newby, reflected, around the country many people will have been the recipients of a “Good”. It will be part of the family tradition, part of the lore. They will talk about it this weekend.
Without repeating the respect that has been referred to, the admiration and the growing and sustained intensifying affection for His Royal Highness and Her Majesty, I, on behalf of the Cross Benches, offer our condolences to her and to the Royal Family, and our understanding and sympathy that, for all the roles they play in this world, the absence of this one man—just one man—will, in their crowded, busy lives, leave them in a vast desert.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow four such eloquent speeches from the Front Benches, and it is with great sadness and much sympathy that I convey from these Benches the condolences of the Lords spiritual especially to Her Majesty the Queen, but also to all her family on the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. In thousands of churches and homes around the nation and the world yesterday, as on every Sunday, prayers were said for the Queen. This weekend we have also thanked God for Prince Philip’s life of extraordinary service. There are some rare people who bring energy into a room. As we have already heard, the Duke of Edinburgh was very much one of those people. His presence lifted a gathering. He might have challenged and interrogated, but whatever he said he never bored anyone.
As was mentioned on Radio 4 this morning, one of the rites of passage for diocesan bishops newly in post has been to preach at Sandringham in January. One arrives on the Saturday evening. There is often a barbecue—yes, I do mean in north Norfolk in January—at which the Duke of Edinburgh cooks superbly. I still remember the food. On the Sunday morning the bishop preaches. Let me be very honest: I often cannot remember my own sermons. Prince Philip listened intently, thought deeply and, over lunch, interrogated knowingly. His reading theologically was wide, his memory retentive, his analysis perceptive. Few bishops failed to leave with greater thoughtfulness and few failed to admire. We quite often had to answer questions about what a bishop had said in a sermon two or three weeks earlier with which he disagreed. He was effectively polling the Bench.
The Duke of Edinburgh had a profound moral imagination, extraordinary foresight and even vision. He saw the world not just as it is but as it could and should be, as worked out in his commitment to young people, especially through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, to the Commonwealth, to our Armed Forces, and to engineering, technology and design, where he played a formative and important part, as well as to conservation and the environment. In Edmund Burke’s words, he had an instinctive sense that the social contract was found in the traditions we inherit from the past, in our obligations to the present and in our responsibility to those yet to be born.
His genuine and deep sense of humility and his service came from the same place, which was his faith. That was also discussed this morning. He had a sincere Christian faith absolutely untainted by false piety, of which he was very intolerant, whoever showed it—quite rightly. It was formed and developed by wrestling with great issues, and refined by meeting such an extraordinary variety of people around the Commonwealth and the world and learning about their lives. He understood deeply how important faith is for the vast majority of the world’s population. He engaged the rich diversity of faiths within the UK and the Commonwealth. He was a pioneer in recognising the crucial role that faith leaders play in advocating for creation care. He was literally half a century ahead of his time in this area. His commitment to the present and future good of this nation and of the Commonwealth was reflected in technology and engineering as an expression, for him, of our God-given intelligence and responsibility.
His service was a profound expression of his faith. He knew who he was, and his faith was central to who he was and how he lived his life. He worked out his call to serve and follow Christ in the context of his calling, which, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, rightly said, was unique. His life, his work and especially his family and his service to Her Majesty, as her senior and premier subject and as her husband, formed his vocation—yet he was always utterly true and authentic to himself. That mixture is a lesson for all, especially perhaps on these Benches.
Much has been said in the last few days about an exceptional man of great service, duty and wit. It is of course Her Majesty and the Royal Family who will remember him most dearly, and for them, our prayer is that even as they walk in the valley of the shadow of death, they know that the good shepherd is with them and upholding them.
My Lords, others have spoken and will speak about the huge range of interests and skills that the Duke of Edinburgh possessed. As Master of the Horse, I will focus on his contribution to equestrianism and equestrian sports. His Royal Highness was, from an early age, a keen sportsman, playing cricket and hockey with great dexterity and, in the late 1940s, he began an active polo career. He quickly became a remarkable player, twice leading his team to victory in the gold cup for the British open and founding the Guards Polo Club at Windsor. Prince Philip reached a handicap of five, taking the sport much more seriously than most amateur players.
By the time that he retired from active polo in 1971, he had developed a love for carriage driving, taking it up competitively in the 1970s. After his second competition, the European championships, held at Windsor, he recalled:
“I came in not quite last, but very nearly.”
Ultimately, he represented Great Britain in six world and three European championships, in a career that spanned more than 10 years, becoming a world-class carriage driver and winning team gold in the 1980 world championship.
Prince Philip became president of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports—known by its French abbreviation, the FEI—in 1964, and served until 1986. A true leader, he recognised that more could be done to bring order to elite competition. Deeply involved, thanks to his true love for horses, His Royal Highness channelled his passion into driving standards up across a broad range of equestrian sports, writing the rules for international carriage-driving competitions and introducing new disciplines.
While, in the equestrian world, his name is most closely associated with carriage driving and polo, he instigated the FEI Jumping Nations Cup series—now a major part of the elite athletes calendar—during his tenure as president of the FEI, and he actively encouraged the launch of the FEI Jumping World Cup. He was also instrumental in the creation of the FEI World Equestrian Games.
His Royal Highness became president of the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 1991 and took a close and personal interest. He had a watchful eye and your Lordships will not be surprised that he often made suggestions to the committee of ways to improve the show and its competition. He created the Prince Philip pony club games, and the nation’s competition at Windsor was a highlight that demonstrated his interest in youth development.
St Matthew, at chapter 5, verse 15, says:
“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel”.
His Royal Highness used all his considerable assets to shine a light on equestrian sports, in the United Kingdom, around the Commonwealth and internationally. His passion for all things equestrian was of course shared by the Queen and passed on to their children, particularly the Prince of Wales, who was also a successful polo player, and the Princess Royal, the first member of the British Royal Family to compete at an Olympic Games, who succeeded him as president of the FEI.
The Duke of Edinburgh was an honorary member of the Jockey Club from 1947, and enthusiastically supported the Queen in her great passion for racing. The Duke of Edinburgh handicap was named for him at Royal Ascot. A high point was his presenting the Queen with the Queen’s Vase after Estimate won that race in 2012. Not to be outdone, he had owned the winner of the 1968 English Greyhound Derby.
He was an extraordinarily fearless horseman, and his impact on equestrian sport is remarkable. He was famously direct and much enjoyed the company of the family of carriage drivers, who regarded him truly as one of them, and of his grooms, who were devoted to him, not least for his interest in them. You knew when he was not entirely approving of something, be it the design of a horse-box, the way someone was driving a pair or a team, or something being in the wrong place in the picnic box. He expressed himself very clearly when that happened, but he was excellent company and had a fund of amusing and often apocryphal stories from his own life. He was a man of incredible energy and a great sense of humour. The equestrian community joins the rest of the nation, the Commonwealth and indeed the world in mourning the loss of a remarkable man, and in sending our condolences to Her Majesty and the Royal Family.
My Lords, speakers this afternoon have been, and will be, covering the involvement of Admiral of the Fleet, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in myriad organisations, institutions and good causes. I will cover just one, the Royal Navy, a service to which he was palpably devoted from when he joined, as an 18 year-old, and through the rest of his life. His distinguished war record and subsequent command of a warship, the frigate HMS “Magpie”, gave him the absolute credibility to speak with knowledge, experience and ease to sailors and marines of whatever rank. Incidentally, he was inordinately proud of his role as Commandant General Royal Marines.
His famous curiosity, interest and genuine wish to find out from whomever he spoke to what they were up to, whatever their status or specialisation—engineer, logistician, operator or whatever—meant that he captured the absolute attention of all with whom he engaged, and he invariably won their utmost respect and admiration. The experience of meeting him would leave people more often than not feeling stimulated, always better informed and occasionally storm-torn, but always encouraged and refreshingly clear on His Royal Highness’s view. His high sense of duty and loyalty to the White Ensign could not have been clearer. He epitomised the ideals and ethos of the service, setting a lifelong example to which we can all aspire but which very few would genuinely match. In all, he was an inspiration to everyone in the Royal Navy during his long life.
I can hear his voice in my ear saying, “That’s quite enough, Boyce”, so I finish by saying that he will be greatly missed by the service.
My Lords, I express my condolences to Her Majesty. I will reflect on a number of the elements that have already been touched on in the life of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. I reflect on what the Leader of the House and my noble friend Lady Smith said about the enormous change that has taken place during the Duke’s life and how that reflected the change that we have experienced here in Europe. The Duke had to flee; he became a refugee, obtained a Danish passport and then fled from Germany to Gordonstoun and experienced the welcome that we as a nation have given to so many—in other words, reflecting the life of the nation and the world over the past 99 years.
I reflect on something very close to my heart: his total commitment to volunteering, service and young people. I am reflecting on a young man called Lewis from Stocksbridge in Sheffield who, as an apprentice with the waste service in Sheffield, joined the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and found his feet and his confidence and his ability to progress. He continues to volunteer, although he is well into his 20s. I reflect on the fact that, all those years ago, when I became a volunteer at the age of 16, I understood, as His Royal Highness understood very well, that it was very much a two-way street; that when I volunteered to help Mrs Plumb, who was in her 80s, I had not realised that Mrs Plumb thought she was volunteering to help me. That is the way in which he encouraged young people to give their service, as he had throughout his life given service to this nation and in support of Her Majesty the Queen.
I also reflect on his attention to detail and his sense of humour, which has been mentioned a number of times today and over the past few days. My very good friend the Reverend Dr Billings and my wife and I were at the ceremony to commemorate the offering of the Maundy money in Sheffield in 2015. After the service at the cathedral we joined the welcoming line in the town hall. My friend Alan Billings had been elected police and crime commissioner after some considerable controversy in South Yorkshire and the stepping down of his predecessor. When the Duke came down the line and spoke to Alan Billings, he had already done his homework. He said, “Who managed to get you into this terrible job?”. There was a moment’s silence before I confessed that I had persuaded him to take on the role. The Duke said in his inimitable way, “Well, with a friend like this, you don’t need any enemies”. I recall him as a man of honour, a man of commitment and a man who gave his life in service to our country and to his monarch Her Majesty the Queen. He will be greatly missed.
My Lords, Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have been around as continuity and stability through the whole of my life, and I must confess to feeling a little affected and uncertain about what all this means, not just emotionally but for all of us. I can scarcely appreciate the impact it must have on the members of the Royal Family and on Her Majesty the Queen, and I send my deepest sympathies and condolences. The Queen and the Duke have been there for the whole of my life.
As a young boy, I joined the Boys’ Brigade and that introduced me to the possibility of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Like the noble Baroness the Leader of the House, I progressed through, learning much. The expeditions had a particular impact on me. Returning from the Sperrin mountains with cold Irish rain guttering down the back of my neck and eating cold baked beans out of tin, I learned that there is a profound difference between comfort and satisfaction. Of course, the satisfaction was all the greater because it gave the possibility at the end of going with my parents to Buckingham Palace, which was probably the proudest day of my young life at that time.
All through from then, the Duke had an impact; for example, he visited my community in Northern Ireland more than 50 times, even during difficult and troubled times. For much of that time, he and Her Majesty were, of course, best appreciated by the part of the community that I came from—the Protestant community. But that was to change dramatically in the later part of the peace process, particularly when Her Majesty came to Parliament Buildings, and then with the extraordinary and transformational visit to the Republic of Ireland. And in 2012, there was the profoundly, historically significant handshake with Martin McGuinness. I remind noble Lords of this event because how enormous it was may not always be appreciated. In republican theology, the war is not with northern Protestants but with Britain, and no one represents Britain more than Her Majesty the Queen. The man who shook her hand, Martin McGuinness, was more than any other the representative of not just political but violent republicanism. That handshake meant the end of the war. It meant the end of the war for republicans. The man who was standing beside Her Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh, was a victim, because his uncle, who was in truth more of a father figure to him and who helped to bring the two of them together, had been murdered by the IRA—an IRA led by Martin McGuiness. He did not shake his hand and he was not effusive, but he was there. To me, there is something profoundly significant about the courage, steadfastness and leadership of a man who can do that.
Of course it was not all seriousness in his life. Her Majesty loved having members of what she called the “home team” to entertain diplomats and others at garden parties. I well remember one when I was there as Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Duke turned to me and said, “You’re Irish, aren’t you?”. I said, “Yes, sir”. He said, “Have you heard about the two Irishmen who went past the pub without going in for a drink?”. I said, “No, sir, I haven’t”, and he said, “No, I’ve never heard of two Irishmen going past a pub without going in for a drink”. I fell about the place laughing, and Her Majesty looked round—she was standing just beside us—and said just one word: “Philip”. It expressed a degree of remonstrance and indulgence.
He was extraordinary, but he was also a man of great depth, as the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury has said. For him, meaning, faith and commitment in life were truly important. I think for him it was not always just the content of belief but the conduct of life that was crucial: to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. It seems to me that the one who worshiped was a servant king, and that was the transformation the Duke engineered in our monarchy. He and Her Majesty the Queen entered at a time of imperial rule; they leave when the monarchy represents public service. That is what I remember from him, and I will seek not just to celebrate that life but to emulate that legacy.
My Lords, reading some of the thousands of words written about His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and his many achievements, what is striking is the number of different and successful organisations he started or changed out of all recognition. Any one of them on its own would be regarded by one of us as the highlight of a successful career. How proud one would have been to have made such a significant contribution to wildlife conservation, how pleased to have written the rules for carriage driving competitions, to have written 14 books, to have done so much for the preservation of playing fields, more and more of which are under pressure for development, or to have founded the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, from which more than 7 million people have benefited, all while carrying out literally thousands of engagements as well as being a constant and unswerving support for the Queen. It is not for nothing that Her Majesty referred to him as her rock.
We hear much nowadays about the disadvantage of being brought up in a fractured home. We hear it trotted out as an excuse for wrongdoing. Prince Philip was brought up without a home, not really even a country, but he got on with life. He never asked for special consideration, he never made excuses. He did his best, and what a best it was.
We should all go down on our knees and thank God for giving Her Majesty and this country someone who would contribute in so many ways and whose unswerving sense of duty and obligation were strong enough that for more than 70 years he would put the welfare of this nation, Her Majesty and the British people above all else.
Not much is made of it, but Prince Philip had a great consideration for others. A small example of this is his tailor, who left the well-known Savile Row establishment where he made suits for Prince Philip to set up on his own. On hearing this, Prince Philip immediately ordered three new suits. As the tailor said, “He didn’t need them. I just filled his wardrobe”.
Above all at this time we must sympathise with Her Majesty the Queen. Her grief and sense of loss are inconceivable. The horror of no longer having someone who has been at your side for 70 years is unimaginable. It is even worse for Her Majesty, who in her unique position has lost the only person with whom she could openly confide on any subject. Only Her Majesty’s enormous strength of character will enable her to continue to carry out her duties.
Many will mourn the Duke of Edinburgh. They will be from all sorts of backgrounds. Those who were fortunate enough to have known him will miss a friend; when they saw him, it was invariably with pleasure and always wishing they had spent longer together.
My Lords, I join others in expressing, here in this House, my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family on the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. As perhaps many of us know at first hand, however prepared we think we are for a loss such as this, the shock of bereavement is acute.
So much has been said and written about Prince Philip in these past few days. To the surprise of some—it is a revelation to many—we see an affectionate and more rounded picture of this extraordinary man. He would perhaps have raised that quizzical eyebrow of his at the praise he is receiving, but he deserves every word of it.
Plenty has rightly been made of the way he defined his role in those early years as the restless and hyperactive innovator driven by his passions, the creator of his ground-breaking award scheme, the conservationist so far ahead of his time, the advocate for engineering, design and technology, and the convenor for his growing interest in faith, religion and philosophy. He was a philanthropic entrepreneur long before we knew what those were.
Less has perhaps been made of Prince Philip in his middle years, as the innovator gave way to the consolidator at home, across the Commonwealth and more widely. He remained a constant and very visible supporter of our armed services and those of the realms. He arranged the seamless succession of Prince Edward to lead the international award scheme. He tirelessly supported the WWF’s increasing global agenda until he stepped down as international president at the age of 75. He helped to set up the Royal Academy of Engineering. He encouraged interfaith dialogue on conservation through the Assisi declarations.
These are all major achievements in themselves, but he never let these passions get in the way of what he so clearly saw as his primary duty: to support the Queen. He knew, as did the Queen, that he was in a unique position to offer support by being totally honest, straightforward and, if necessary, critical in a way that nobody else could.
Day after day, year after year, he was a willing and accomplished part of that royal double act at public events and engagements here and around the world, working a room, greeting another line-up or meeting people on walkabouts. At the same time, the Queen looked to him to give a lead on family matters, to advise, to cajole, to dispute and to reconcile, as families do. Above all, he was an advocate for and a believer in change. He recognised that the monarchy has constantly to evolve. In the early years he drove this himself, and later in life he was a source of much guidance and advice.
Like many British institutions, the monarchy might sometimes seem difficult to explain. That it continues to inspire trust, loyalty and affection is founded on the Royal Family’s ability to make a clear contribution to the life of our nation, adapting with the years. Throughout this long reign—through times of unparalleled political, economic, social and cultural change—the Queen, anchored in her faith, has by example gently reminded us of the values of courage and humility, of service and duty, of continuity and change. We can never know the true extent of the support she has been given by Prince Philip, either directly at her side or through the breadth of his own contribution, but it has without doubt been immense. History will judge him very kindly.
My Lords, your Lordships who have spoken have paid fine tributes far more eloquently than I can. First, I add my sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen.
My contribution is to quote the last two sentences of A Question of Balance, which His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, wrote in 1982. He examines his own belief and concludes that
“in the final analysis only individuals can find satisfaction and contentment”
and that, as the evidence of history shows, these cannot be guaranteed by some patent ideology or political system, or even by material prosperity alone. In the end, satisfaction and contentment
“are created by the relationships between one individual and another at work, in the community and in the home. You do not have to be a practising Christian to see that human rights begin with Christ’s teaching–‘Always treat others as you would like them to treat you’.”
My Lords, I join in adding my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.
I knew the Duke in several capacities but speak today chiefly as a member of the Queen’s Body Guard for Scotland. I was privileged to escort the Duke on a good number of occasions at garden parties and, gosh, he was good fun. He always scored with every audience from whatever background, with an easy word, a warm smile and infectious good humour. Our role as a bodyguard was to be with him for an hour and escort or deliver him to the Queen’s tea tent.
A very particular memory is of his meeting a former crew member of a British cruiser sunk in the Mediterranean during the war at the very time that the Duke was serving in that theatre. We all stood back as a very long discussion ensued. The Duke, in his 80s, stood as the veteran sat in his wheelchair. In the hubbub of the garden party, they talked peacefully—comrades transported back. Eventually, and with warm firmness, they shook hands again. The Duke was now faced with a simple choice: continue to meet the line of other garden party guests already chosen from the crowd, or be on time for tea with the Queen. In a very rare example of departure from loyalty to his sovereign, he was very late for that tea.
My Lords, as I stand, I can hear Prince Philip in my ear saying, “West, it fills me with despair that I will have to listen to another eulogy from you”, so I intend to keep it very short.
His Royal Highness Prince Philip came from a generation of naval officers who were very reticent in showing their emotions. For someone like the Duke of Edinburgh, a sense of duty was paramount. That did not mean that he did not feel the pain and poignancy of wartime and other losses; he just came from a generation that did not emote madly over them.
He was a fine seaman. He was highly professional. He despised flattery and flim-flam. He enjoyed the ebullient repartee of the wardroom; from some of the examples from noble Lords, one can see how that led on to how he spoke and acted in life. He had a good war and was decorated for bravery. For nearly 100 years he remained connected with the sea, starting of course in an orange box on board the cruiser “Calypso”, when he was rescued from Greece.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s life of service has been an inspiration to generations of naval officers and Royal Marine officers, and the Royal Navy will be forever grateful for the strengthening of the bond between the senior service and the monarchy. We as a nation owe him a huge debt, and he will be dreadfully missed.
My Lords, the death of Prince Philip has left a huge void in Her Majesty’s life. Equally, the nation and people the world over have felt the same void. While we know that the end of life at some stage is inevitable, we do not expect this to happen to the people we love most. Prince Philip was always by the Queen’s side and so much part of our lives that it came as a shock when the news broke of his death. It is often said that we always remember where we were when certain news reaches us. We share the grief and sadness felt by our Royal Family. Millions of words will be written and spoken about this most likeable personality, whom we will no longer see by Her Majesty’s side.
I wish to add a few words of my gratitude to the Royal Family, whose constant care and concern about diversity has been at the forefront of our lives in our adopted homeland. My parents were Indians who settled in east Africa, so I bring the perspective of two different worlds. Britain and India have been joined at the hip from the time of the British East India Company and the British Raj. Britain is the world’s oldest democracy and India one of its largest. Many of the values that we share have their roots in these democracies, values such as the rule of law, freedom and peace, which are inherent in what we all believe. These have been sustained throughout our love-hate relationship. The Queen and Prince Philip are held with love and affection in that country. I remember one of the royal visits where queues stretched for miles just to get a glimpse of the royal couple.
The relationship is now stronger than it has ever been. A substantial number of Indians are now recognised for their contribution to the social, political and economic life of this country. We thank the Queen and Prince Philip for giving shelter to so many people who have worked to enrich lives in their new homeland. In all this, we must not forget the roles played by Her Majesty as head of the Commonwealth and Prince Philip by her side. We must not forget that the Commonwealth survives as a group of nations through the total commitment of the Royal Family for its success.
Prince Philip will be remembered for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Thousands of youngsters of all colours have benefited as participants of the scheme, which has an international dimension. When I was in Kenya during a visit, I was impressed with the number of youngsters participating in activities there. The value of this sort of diplomacy is impossible to quantify; suffice it to say that young people become far more confident in their future as a result of the opportunities that they gather as participants.
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited Kenya soon after their marriage. They were staying at the Treetops when news reached them about the death of the King. We had seen them as Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Kenya sent them back as the Queen and her consort. For all these years, we have been blessed with this wonderful couple. Our prayers are with the family.
My Lords, I add my tribute to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and send my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.
I consider myself privileged to be chair of trustees of the UK Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. I send particular thanks to the Earl of Wessex, who is a trustee of the UK award as well as chair of the international award, which operates in 130 countries around the world. He and the Countess of Wessex are tremendous supporters and passionate about changing the lives of young people by giving them new and different opportunities.
It has been humbling over the weekend to hear so many people talking about the legacy of the Duke of Edinburgh, particularly in relation to the awards—deeply personal experiences of challenge that come in many different forms, where taking part in the award has helped to guide the individual. It has been fascinating to learn of your Lordships’ own personal experiences. The scheme was originally set up in 1956 to help boys, and then girls; in the UK alone 6.7 million young people have now achieved an award. Prince Philip said:
“If you can get a young person to succeed in any one activity, then that feeling of success will spread over into many others.”
Every person I have spoken to has talked about things that the award has given them: the chance to develop resilience, make decisions, learn from the consequences of those decisions, and try things that they might not have realised they would like doing. One of the most incredible people I have spent time with did their award while in prison; now young offender institutes are one of many places where the award is offered. At events that the Duke of Edinburgh attended, he warmed the room with his interest in what the young people had done, what they had enjoyed and what they had found challenging. He also had time for parents and carers, recognising the role that this important group of people had in guiding young people.
At the awards we firmly believe that, in a time of uncertainty when GCSEs and A-levels are not happening in the same way, the award can be a constant in young people’s lives and is more relevant than ever before. One million young people could be locked out of education, employment and training as a result of Covid. We have all been incredibly impressed during the pandemic with the creativity that has been shown by young people who keep carrying on and keep signing up.
What anyone would want from the award if we were starting with a blank piece of paper is what we actually have, which shows how far ahead of his time the Duke was. While the individual activities that young people do to complete the award have changed since its inception, the basic premise of volunteering, physical challenge, developing a skill and taking part in an expedition still holds true. If you put people in a room from each of the decades that the award has been running, they will have the shared experience of challenge and fun—some ups and downs, certainly, but a tremendous sense of achievement. What better way to commemorate the life and cement the legacy of His Royal Highness than a commitment on the part of the nation and the Government to support an expansion of youth work and extracurricular activities for young people.
I pay tribute to my predecessor as chair, the noble Lord, Lord Kirkham, for his unstinting support for young people, the team and myself. He helped guide the awards to the position that they are now in and, if I may use a sporting analogy that I hope His Royal Highness would appreciate, handed on the baton in an incredibly strong position.
I thank the other organisations and the volunteers, teachers and youth workers—everyone who has gone above and beyond to help deliver the award and His Royal Highness’s vision to young people. Beyond the participants, the award impacts tens of millions of people. It is perhaps with the passing of His Royal Highness that we truly realise the impact that he had on public life, and at the awards we look forward to at least the next 75 years—and beyond.
My Lords, as my noble friend the Leader of the House reminded us at the beginning of this debate, it was the Queen herself—Her Majesty—who said several years ago that the Commonwealth
“in lots of ways is the face of the future.”
While Ministers in successive Governments, along with a lot of commentators and others, may have ignored this prescient message, Prince Philip was certainly never one of those. On the contrary, as we have heard, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, both national and international, has spread like wildfire cross the Commonwealth and given it new vitality, connectivity and cohesion at every level, as the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson has just, quite rightly, been emphasising.
Both the digital revolution and, now, the pandemic have given these schemes even greater relevance and appeal, and they are spreading out far beyond Commonwealth members. I am told that up to 144 countries are now running Duke of Edinburgh’s Award schemes, and that more than 8 million young people have participated in the idea since it began in the 1950s. It is all still growing fast; it is all very fresh and expanding. Last year there were just short of half a million new entrants, both here in the UK and across the world, with 1.3 million 14 to 24 year-olds completing award programmes.
All this is the true path, like no other, to a better, more stable and prosperous future for many countries and societies. The impact will indeed last for generations, as Gordon Brown eloquently reminded us on the BBC this morning. There have been links too with a similar Irish scheme, as Mary McAleese, the excellent former Irish President, following her meeting with the Duke some years ago on his visit, explained yesterday. It could help a lot on that difficult front too.
It is hard to think of a finer legacy that anyone could bequeath to help heal the world and define our own nation’s role and pathway in entirely new world conditions.
My Lords, while this is a sad occasion, it is also, as has been displayed by the many heartfelt speeches that we have heard, an opportunity to celebrate and pay tribute to the life and work of the Duke of Edinburgh. I begin, like many Members and former Members of the House of Commons, by saying how conscious I have always been of the work of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, which has motivated and inspired so many young people from my old constituency and helped to change lives for the better, opening up new opportunities for young people from a huge variety of backgrounds.
I can claim to have met the Duke on only two occasions, but both were special and memorable so I would like briefly to share them with your Lordships’ House. The first was at Windsor Castle when I was fortunate to attend a banquet that was part of the state visit of the then President of Germany, Roman Herzog, the first such banquet to be held at Windsor Castle after the 1992 fire. At the very end of the event a small group of us were standing with our cups of coffee, relaxing and talking about the success of the event, when the Duke came up to us, started chatting and then, to our surprise and delight, offered to show us the renovations and restoration work that had been carried out following the fire. We all felt very fortunate to be entertained on our own private tour and to learn about the details of the restoration directly from the Duke of Edinburgh, who of course had been so closely involved in that work.
The second occasion was also at Windsor, when, following a ministerial meeting, those present were invited to an informal lunch with members of the Royal Family. I was then a Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food—now Defra—and I found that I had been placed next to His Royal Highness for the lunch. I have to say that I wondered somewhat nervously how this would turn out and whether perhaps his reputation for forthright views might complicate things. In fact, the conversation flowed effortlessly thanks to His Royal Highness, who was keenly interested in agricultural policy. He grilled me on what the Government were doing and thinking, and I remember at one point reflecting that he would have made a formidable interviewer on the “Today” programme, for example. In asking searching questions, he demonstrated a huge knowledge of farming and the latest agricultural developments, combined with an obvious deep commitment to the countryside and to rural life.
In one of the many tributes over the last few days, Sir David Attenborough was quoted as saying that the first time he met His Royal Highness it was absolutely clear that if you turned up and had not mastered the papers, he would detect it very quickly and you would be in trouble. That certainly accorded with my own experience, but as a result I gained huge respect for His Royal Highness and for the role that he carried out over so many years, which is why I wanted to share these memories with colleagues today.
My Lords, there is little that I can add to the many words that have extolled the remarkable qualities of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. His intelligence, imagination and relentless sense of duty would have taken him to a position of leadership in any area of life that he chose. It is our great good fortune, as a nation and as a Commonwealth, that he chose to devote his life and those abilities to the service of Her Majesty the Queen. So, as we remember and pay tribute to this extraordinary man, we should pause to reflect not only on the significance of his contribution to the monarchy but, as the noble Lord, Lord Janvrin, did, on the significance of that institution in our national life.
We stand apart from others in the continuity of our constitutional arrangements. We do not have an elected Head of State, nor an appointed one. We have a Head of State whose unique position, as the Prime Minister has said, plays a vital role in the balance of our national affairs. That gives us very special advantages. We have of course been blessed with a monarch who commands love and respect on all sides. A couple of years ago, on a visit to a Caribbean island whose Head of State she is, I read a newspaper editorial proffering some advice to a new Governor-General: “If you are in doubt about any decision you are about to make,” it read, “just pause and ask yourself: ‘What would Her Majesty do?’”
It is difficult to see how Her Majesty could have achieved that pinnacle of affection and respect without the strength and stay of her husband. As we mourn the passing of this remarkable man, whom we shall so greatly miss, we should reflect with gratitude on the extent to which we are the beneficiaries of the dedication to public service of the Queen and the Duke. We pay tribute to the memory of the man to whom we owe so much.
My Lords, in a speech marking her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, Her Majesty the Queen described her husband as her constant strength and guide. There is no doubt that he has made an immeasurable contribution to our monarchy and our nation. Prince Philip has been that source of strength as a husband for nearly 75 years and, for nearly 70 years, the longest-serving consort to a British monarch. He was forthright, intelligent and forward-thinking, serving as patron to some 800 organisations and leaving his most lasting legacy through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, something which has changed and inspired many young lives, not least here in Northern Ireland. Again, the words of Her Majesty the Queen sum it up, saying of his lifetime of service that we
“owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”
Throughout his life, Prince Philip exemplified the qualities of duty, sacrifice and service to a country and to a Commonwealth, all carried with great humanity and great humour. We here in Northern Ireland take great pride, too, in the fact that Northern Ireland can boast the highest participation levels in his other crowning achievement, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. It is significant that he attended every gold presentation in Northern Ireland and presented those awards to young people, according to what the director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has said. In fact, he visited Northern Ireland on 56 occasions.
Prince Philip served our nation first in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and then throughout a lifetime of public service within the Royal Family. Kneeling before the Queen at her Coronation service, he promised to be her liege man of life and limb. There can be no doubt that he fulfilled that role, but also accomplished so much more in his own right. Our thoughts and prayers, along with those from across the country and around the world, are with Her Majesty the Queen and the entire Royal Family at this time. Our nation has lost a great servant—a remarkable and extraordinary man—but his legacy will live on. God bless the Royal Family.
My Lords, it is a peculiar honour to have a chance to pay a tribute to a great man in this House today. His was a historic life. History will record that the 99 and 10/12th years that he spent on the planet were ones of spectacular improvement in the lot of humankind. He was not, of course, responsible for that change but his life brilliantly illustrates how an individual can help to bring about such improvements. The very informality of his role was a great hurdle but he turned it into a great opportunity. He rose to the challenge of being a great leader, no easy feat, and in doing so challenged others to achieve great things.
To come as a refugee from a broken family, fractured by assassination, exile and mental illness, and to create a golden family of his own through a love match that lasted nearly three-quarters of a century was remarkable enough. But to do so while helping to steer the monarchy to its modern relevance and respect, and while nudging and cajoling so many institutions and organisations in his adopted nation into their modern shape—to do all this for 73 years and never put a foot wrong, never fail to bring a smile to the faces of an audience, never leave a meeting without learning something useful—is a record that no mere politician, businessman, bishop, judge, or general can hope to match in our ephemeral careers.
It is his work that will endure—for work it was, however much fun he had doing it, visiting every corner of the country and every possible community, listening, learning, advising, steering, rewarding and helping ordinary people. This is the stuff that gets almost entirely left out of the fictionalised television series but that is the real reason the monarchy is so loved. The vast majority of people who met him did so because he visited their projects and workplaces.
When I gave the Prince Philip lecture at the Royal Society of Arts 20 years ago, he chaired the question session after and a long, continuing conversation over dinner, cutting through platitudes and banalities to get at the substance of disagreements and fan them into flames. It was a tour de force and it left me exhausted. I can now reveal that four years ago, with the kind help of the Lord Speaker, my noble friend Lord Lawson and I smuggled Prince Philip into this building for lunch with the inventor James Lovelock, who is still alive today at the age of 101. The conversation between these two pioneering environmentalists was funny, feisty, fast and furious. The topics ranged from radiation physics to barbecue design. The Duke’s fascination with how things worked—with technology and invention, which has already been mentioned here today—shone through, but so did his fascination with how the world worked, how ecosystems fitted together and how human responsibility for managing nature must not be ducked. There was not a backward glance from these two 90-somethings; it was all about the future.
I join in paying my humble condolences to Her Majesty and all the Royal Family on account of his death. But their sorrow and ours will surely in due course be eclipsed by pride and admiration on account of his life.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow so many distinguished noble and noble and gallant Lords, including my noble friend the most Reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. They have all spoken so warmly, and I wish to add my tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Noble Lords will know that it is my honour to be not just the Bishop of London but the Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal.
I would like to start with words from Alfred Tennyson:
“Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea”.
Of course, these are words from his poem “Crossing the Bar”, which was sung by the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral on Saturday evening as part of evensong, following the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Crossing the bar is to cross the sandbar between the tide of life and its outgoing flood, and the ocean which lies beyond death. The poem speaks of a life well lived, so that there is no sadness or farewell but instead a journey peacefully travelled, serenely and securely.
We have much to be grateful for in the life of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. It was a life of dedication. That dedication is clear in his naval career, during which he saw active service in the Second World War, achieving the rank of commander. It is seen in his other passions: conservation, engineering and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. We have heard much about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, not least from the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson. I am personally grateful for the award and its contribution to the formation of my children, and my nephews and nieces. But I think that to all of us, his dedication is clearest in his work to support Her Majesty the Queen.
In 2009, he became the longest-serving British consort in the history of our nation. To reflect now on their life of dedication to one another and to the people they govern teaches us much about service. They had been married for over 73 years and, side by side, travelled all over the world from Australia to America, Africa and India, flying the flag for the Commonwealth of which Her Majesty is the figurehead. They have shared total commitment in their duties and service. They have always had each other to lighten the burden of public life.
His Royal Highness will be remembered for his gift of putting others at ease, which others have spoken of today in your Lordships’ House, and for his ability to enter into conversation on any topic with great knowledge. The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of His Royal Highness’s ability to dissect a sermon. I was impressed when he engaged on a sermon I had just delivered while also recognising the intersectionality of my health service background and my faith.
That desire for the engagement of faith with the secular world was also seen in his work with St George’s House, which thrives on debate, discussion and dialogue as a way of nurturing wisdom that can be put to use in the wider world. I and many others have benefitted gratefully from its work.
His Royal Highness has touched us all and will continue to do so for generations to come. In the words also used by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, I pray that Her Majesty the Queen will know the promise of the psalmist:
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
I also pray that His Royal Highness, as a man of faith, will see his pilot, the good shepherd himself, face to face. In the words of Tennyson,
“For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.”
My Lords, I am a lord-lieutenant in Northern Ireland, and in effect I am representing the others here. I have also been a member of Her Majesty’s Household for 23 years.
The Duke of Edinburgh, partly because of his naval service perhaps, had a deep affinity and love for Northern Ireland and our people, a contributing factor perhaps in the pivotal role the Province played during the Battle of the Atlantic. The convoys assembled off Londonderry and much of the air cover was provided in the Atlantic by Sunderlands and Catalinas from Lough Erne in County Fermanagh. The Bismarck was discovered from here at one stage.
Prince Philip was a people’s person who did not stand on ceremony. He wished for a small funeral, and apparently the coffin may be carried in a Land Rover from Sandringham designed personally by him, perhaps called his “gun bus”. He drove this with his head keeper beside him and his guests most definitely in the back. On arrival at a given place, he would jump out and be off leading the way. His guests, meanwhile, would be scrambling about grabbing their jackets et cetera, and the inevitable “Stop chattering and do get a move on” would come from the disappearing Duke.
Perhaps his greatest skill was as a communicator. I was involved with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the 1980s, and he met those young people taking part on every occasion he could—indeed, he met them many times while they were going through Balmoral or Sandringham. In the more formal gold award ceremonies, he would first make some very amusing remarks, and everyone would laugh and relax. I attended two large conferences chaired by Prince Philip, one for the award and one for the Outward Bound Trust. His introduction was humorous and relaxed, and it was extraordinary how he created an atmosphere that encouraged young people to respond, give ideas, and even disagree with him. He relished such discussions.
The international award in the Republic of Ireland is known as the President’s Award, or Gaisce. Prince Philip personally instigated closer inter-state and cross-community links by giving young people from different backgrounds in Northern Ireland the option of the DofE award or Gaisce, the President’s Award. There are faxes in the office in Belfast sent by him personally when his private secretary was on leave, showing that it was his initiative and he who drove it to fruition.
He was a pioneer in protecting the environment, practising what he preached. The first biomass boiler I saw was on the Sandringham estate, and he insisted on building an early methane digester on the Windsor dairy farm. Much to his horror, and later perhaps to his amusement, the latter apparently blew up. Views vary on different renewables. After bringing up wind turbines with him, I knew not to do so again, and I smiled quietly when I saw others making the same mistake.
We know of his many international achievements. However, I sometimes wonder whether people realise the significance of inward state visits by foreign Heads of State and the part played by the monarch and, until now, by Prince Philip. These visits are at the highest levels of diplomacy and the most sought after by other nations. Visitors stay as personal guests of the Queen at Buckingham Palace or Windsor.
During my time at the palace, visitors included Presidents Putin, Obama and Trump, the Emperor of Japan and many others. During these visits an immense amount of bilateral business is done between the countries away from the principals, but it has been the personal hosting by Her Majesty and Prince Philip in their own homes that has ensured success. The success of a visit is judged by the TV coverage going out to the visitor’s nation and the happiness of the visitor and their immediate suite. This is what has been ensured by the attention paid to it by the Queen and Prince Philip, regardless of any personal opinions of any individual.
Perhaps the greatest compliments are from the many young people in this country who have been heard to say, “Had it not been for the Duke of Edinburgh, I might have been in prison or a drug addiction centre.” That is quite an accolade for any individual person.
We in Northern Ireland join the nation, and indeed the world, in sending our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to Her Majesty the Queen, the Prince of Wales and all the members of the Royal Family. We have a great deal to be grateful for.
My Lords, I cannot emulate some of the very eloquent tributes we have heard, and nor shall I attempt to. I hope that I will not repeat too many, either. Prince Philip has been a constant in the life of this nation and in the life of the overwhelming majority of the British people for as long as anybody can remember, and all my life too.
I want to look at his military service. We have heard of his outstanding service in the Royal Navy in the Second World War, but he was Captain General of the Royal Marines for over 60 years. When I was at university I was in the Royal Marines, so he was my Captain General.
In the Army, he was colonel of a great many regiments—too many to list. In the Household Division, in which I served, he was colonel of the Welsh Guards. When I went to Sandhurst, and shortly afterwards, he appropriately handed on that post to the Prince of Wales. He then became Colonel of the Grenadier Guards for over 40 years and a familiar sight on the Queen’s birthday parade, initially on horseback and subsequently with Her Majesty in a carriage.
There was a healthy rivalry—it was normally friendly—between the Coldstream Guards, in which I served, and the Grenadier Guards, so I would not presume to speak for the Grenadiers, but I know that he was a much-loved, respected and admired Colonel. I was often on parade with him as a rather insignificant young officer.
He took the job very seriously. The first time I met him was in 1979 when he was visiting the Grenadier Guards recruits and staff at the guard’s depot in Pirbright, where I was idling my time away as a training officer. I was in my office planning range work or some such with the colour sergeant, when, rather as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, remembers, the Colonel of the Grenadier Guards suddenly came through my door. I was startled, and we both leapt to our feet. He said, “And what are you doing in here?” I was doing a bit of an impression of a goldfish gawping, struggling for words. Then he said, “I expect you’re hoping someone like me doesn’t barge into your office.” Of course, he put me at ease, and we all relaxed. I smiled then and I still smile at that amazing instance.
He was an amazing and brilliant exemplar of public service and duty, from which we can all learn. We and the British people mourn him and will miss him. We should thank him for his service and send our loyal greetings and condolences to Her Majesty.
My Lords, as Secretary of State for Wales for six years, it was my duty and pleasure to be a Minister in attendance on Her Majesty the Queen, whose deep loss we mourn, and His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on every occasion they visited Wales in my time in office.
Two events stand out in my memory. The first was supervising the arrangements for Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee tour of Wales, which seems such a long time ago: meeting the royal party at a railway siding in north Wales in the early hours of the morning and then, after the day’s programme, boarding HMS “Britannia” at Holyhead for three days and later travelling overnight to Milford Haven and Cardiff. During each day’s visits, His Royal Highness was intensely interested in all that he saw, including on a memorable visit to Bodnant Garden. Above all else, His Royal Highness showed immense kindness to my wife and me, and meticulous consideration and attention to detail to make our task easier during the tumultuous welcome we had throughout Wales.
On a later occasion, we both accompanied the royal party to the reopening of the Theatr Clwyd, when the great Welsh actor and dramatist, Emlyn Williams, delivered a gripping monologue including an imaginary bus excursion by the thirsty bards of Wales. After universal laughter, and the huge enjoyment of the Duke, he turned to me and said, “Is there really such a place as the Druid’s Tap?” I could only laugh in response. It was good to have been present.
My Lords, my father was privileged to be the factor at Balmoral from 1955 to 1965, and that was where I spent my happy childhood. My memories of His Royal Highness are therefore those of a boy aged between 10 and 17. I particularly remember the kindness with which His Royal Highness and Her Majesty treated our family, in particular my father after he lost a leg in 1960 due to a thrombosis. He was kept on in employment for another five years. That is quite normal now, but in the 1960s it was most unusual. It was a gesture way ahead of its time and very much appreciated by all of us.
I also remember His Royal Highness as a young parent—my father was 15 years older than him. When Prince Philip appeared, active and energetic as always, there was a noticeable contrast, and that rather struck me when I was a boy. The thought that one might meet him was always daunting, but when I actually did, it was a totally different feeling: he had the unique ability that some people have to make one feel totally at ease. Even as a difficult child between the ages of 10 and 17, you felt that you were the most important person in the world and that he wanted to talk to you rather than somebody much more important. It was an amazing ability that he had, and if some of us could pass that on in how we treat our grandchildren, the world might become a happier place.
I also remember going to a barbecue and being slightly amazed that the person doing the cooking was Prince Philip—that too was unusual in the early 1960s. Not only that but Her Majesty was doing the washing up as some of the dirty pans were passed her way. It is a wonderful memory to have. On another occasion, we were on the hill and I happened to be sitting next to Prince Philip—I remember him sitting there with his binoculars fixed to his eyes—and he pointed out some rare bird. It did not mean very much to me at the time, but what sunk in was that what he was doing was important. Along with my father, he certainly helped generate in me the interest that I have in conservation and the environment.
Another memory is dancing. His Royal Highness was an extremely good dancer. I remember our various little dancing lessons to teach Prince Charles and Princess Anne how to do Scottish reels and Scottish country dancing, which he knew very well. He was always there to encourage and cajole, and to bring the best out of the young and get them to do it in the way that they should.
Returning to conservation, it was that for which I will remember His Royal Highness the most—the days with Sir Peter Scott and my late friend Lord Buxton of Alsa. It was Prince Philip who narrated “The Enchanted Isles”, about the Galapagos Islands, in 1967, breaking new ground by presenting on television a hugely important documentary about the islands. I think that it is due largely to Prince Philip that the Galapagos Islands and the rare species there have survived and thrived in the way they have. Thank you, sir, for that.
In this country, it was in the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, among others, that he took a huge interest. He demonstrated that himself. At Sandringham, he increased the wild partridge population, but, more than that, he knew that if he increased the number of partridges, he would increase the survival chances of lots of other species that were equally threatened. It was not until I became a chartered surveyor that I realised that in what he was doing at Balmoral in the 1960s, with the preservation of the Caledonian Forest and the regeneration of some of the heather moorland that had gone backwards, how advanced and forward thinking he was on those fronts.
I was immensely privileged to have that childhood and am extraordinarily grateful to His Royal Highness and Her Majesty for their kindness to our family and for what he taught me. If I can pass on just a fraction of that, I will be a happy man.
My Lords, so much has been said about the qualities of Prince Philip, and it is all true. He might find that a little irritating, boring or lacking in interest, and would want some contrary views expressed and some lively debate brought about—he might indeed have done so himself—but it is all true.
Tempting though it is to go further into some of the examples, such as his massive contribution to the evolution of the monarchy in this century and the preceding one as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, which has changed the lives of so many people, I want to refer to his patronage of organisations, which I think reached nearly 1,000 in number, by highlighting simply one of them in which he took a close interest: the Anglo-Swedish Society, of which the president was my late wife, Baroness Maddock, who is remembered with a lot of affection in this House—I have now taken over that role from her. The Duke’s patronage of the Anglo-Swedish Society was no mere formality; he was actively interested in what the society was doing, particularly its work in bringing talented young Swedes to the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal College of Art, contributing to our own national cultural life. He cared about the relations between Britain and Sweden, as he did about those with all the countries with which he concerned himself.
My mind goes back to the occasion in 2004 when the society celebrated 350 years since the 1654 treaty between England and Sweden—a treaty which, perhaps inconveniently, was made by Cromwell and not by the monarchy. There was a ball, attended by the Duke, the Swedish royal family and some 300 guests, at which he delivered a very scholarly but also very humorous address which showed his commitment to relations between the two countries. When the address was over, the dancing began. On Swedish occasions, everybody surges straight on to the dance floor—quite unlike the British tradition of hanging back for as long as possible. The result was that no room was left on the dance floor, and there were the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen of Sweden dancing on the carpeted area around the edge. As on any occasion, he brought fun to the occasion and intellectual challenge. He also brought a lot of gratitude from people who saw how much good he was doing in his own distinctive way.
At a time such as this, our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty the Queen. There will be many in this Chamber who have sustained a loss of someone as close to them but not of someone who has been alongside them for as long as Prince Philip was to Her Majesty. Our thoughts for her are very genuine. This is a difficult time, and one on which we all wish to support her.
My Lords, so much has been written and said about the remarkable life of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It is as director of the Thrombosis Research Institute that I rise to add my tribute to His Royal Highness, who was our patron. His Royal Highness had many scientific and medical patronages, and I suspect that our institute was one of the smallest, yet we were privileged to enjoy His Royal Highness’s support and encouragement, informed by his intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm, which was always reflected in many practical ways. His patronage had an immense impact on our work over the past 30 years.
His Royal Highness was always remarkably well informed in discussion, with a keen interest in and understanding of the science underpinning our work and a fascination with the innovation derived from it. Most of all, he was always demanding that there be meaningful impact from our work for others. To talk about the science and its implications and learn from His Royal Highness, who was always so well and widely informed, was a great privilege, but my abiding memory of His Royal Highness, as it is for so many others, is of his profound kindness. At the time that my father, who founded the institute, died, His Royal Highness wrote to me in his own hand. His letter was one of such kindness and comfort, for which I shall always be grateful. I join noble Lords in adding my deepest condolences to Her Majesty and to members of the Royal Family.
My Lords, this is the first time I have been in this Chamber for over a year, but I could not miss the opportunity of coming here today to express my sympathies to Her Majesty the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family on their very sad loss. It is an enormous loss to them but also a great loss to ourselves.
Like many others, I was fortunate to have many discussions and meetings with Prince Philip over the years, but I had been forewarned of both his valuable judgments and common sense by my late father-in-law, who was one of the young chaplains to the Queen and had to preach his first sermon to the Queen and Prince Philip when he was in his early 30s—and he told me about the lunchtime discussions afterwards.
The Duke’s interest in technology has been mentioned by many speakers. He came to Brunel University, where I was chancellor, on many occasions. On one occasion, they rang in the morning to say that he was ill in bed and could not come—and I assumed, therefore, that the visit was over. But the telephone call did not end without them settling the date when he was coming, which was 14 days later. There were no meetings I ever had when I did not prepare myself before he came with all the technical things that they were doing at the university. Whether he thought I knew anything about it or not, he was too polite to let me know.
When I became the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, he said to me that he thought I had got a “significant job”—nothing more than that. His method of questioning was very much to the point, but I always thought that he got the best out of people by the way he did the questioning. He enabled them to say what they were doing in as clear and concise a way as they possibly could, which was a very valuable way of doing it.
I remember one occasion when he came to the Garrick; he brought the Queen to see all the wonderful pictures there. As he came in, he saw me in the line-up and looked at me and said, “What the hell are you doing here?” He was a wonderful man, and the memories that I have from my small acquaintanceship with him will always stay with me. I end by saying that the life of service and dedication that he lived is a wonderful inspiration to all of us, and of course we will all remember it for many years to come.
My Lords, I feel very humble speaking in this debate, and it is a privilege to do so. Of course, His Royal Highness was completely at home in the Garrick. He had this wonderful sense of fun.
One of the institutions where he was immensely influential was the Royal Academy of Engineering, which he helped to get established. As the president recently said in his tribute, Prince Philip was responsible really for getting the fellowship established. Certainly, he used to come to the fellows’ meetings very regularly and always took such interest in the young people, often quizzing them about very difficult projects that they were doing and often knowing a great deal more than they did, even when they were the PhD student doing the work. That was quite extraordinary to see. At the same time, as so many people have said, there was this great feeling of kindness about him and a genuine humility about what he was trying to say.
I recall one dinner at Windsor. At the end of quite a long evening, he suddenly said to me, “You know, I’ve got something I want to show you in the library”. I wandered down with him to the library, really quite puzzled, and there he had set out a whole series of documents which started with Prince Albert, who of course had been president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, as indeed His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh had been in 1950, and as I had been some years later. In fact, I think that at least five Members of your Lordships’ House have been presidents of that organisation. What was delightful about that evening was that, even though it was very late, he took pleasure in showing the little bits that Prince Albert had done, with his sense of history and, above all, his sense of engineering.
Finally, we came to the discussion at the British association between Wilberforce and Huxley, where of course they were arguing about evolution. His Royal Highness chuckled as he recalled that of course Wilberforce asked Huxley, “Tell me, was it your father or your grandfather who was a monkey?” That would have stunned almost anybody except Huxley, who said that he would have been very proud to have a father as a monkey—or something like that. That answer may be apocryphal; I am not sure. Maybe the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, could correct me on that, because he probably knows that story as well.
One particular delight was being asked to give his annual lecture at Windsor on another occasion, which of course he hosted. I gave it on the perils of technology, which was probably a bit cheeky. The walk from Windsor to get to the podium in the chapel to give that lecture was pretty long and daunting, but His Royal Highness broke the ice on the way down and made sure that I felt sufficiently comfortable on the way. Just as the podium came into sight he said, “You know, I don’t know why we invited you to give this lecture. There are too many children in the world already and you are contributing to overpopulation.” I was about to argue the mathematics of that and point out that there had only been 5 million children but suddenly thought, “I’ve got to bite my tongue, of course he knows that perfectly well”—and I got up and gave the lecture.
Finally, on one other occasion I drove up to Windsor with my wife for some do. I decided to chance my arm and drove my very old 1935 car, which is somewhat unreliable, all the way down the M4 to get to Windsor. We finally got into the castle and there was one of the staff ready to park the cars and there was His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. As I was handing the keys to a member of staff to drive my car away, thinking that he might not be able to drive it because it was really quite difficult if you were not used to it—I was a bit worried—I saw the Duke of Edinburgh and thought that it would have been far better to ask him to do it, but there really was no time. The Duke showed huge interest in the right-sided gearstick and brake, as well as the curious knobs on the steering wheel, and then suddenly said, “Your car hasn’t got a tax disc.” I said, “Well, I know, Your Royal Highness, but the truth is, Sir, that it is a car of historical interest and is exempt from tax.” “My God,” he said, “we’ve got six of those—why didn’t I know that beforehand?”
That sense of fun put us at ease; he was the most remarkable person. He was a great human being and we can only think how hard the gap that he leaves for Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family must be. It is wonderful to hear these tributes to him and we wish them all consolation in their extraordinary loss. Even though he was as old as he was, it was an amazing shock to hear of his death last week.
My Lords, it is quite right that the House meets today with the sole business of paying tribute to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Many noble Lords have questioned whether they have anything to add to the volume of tributes paid since his death on Friday. In this debate on the House’s humble Address, we have heard—and will hear—remarkable speeches and very personal recollections of the unique contribution that the Duke made to British life, and of the reinforcement he gave to our unique constitutional settlement, including in his role in this House, in which, until recent years, he joined Her Majesty the Queen at the State Opening of her Parliament.
There is just one thing I can add to this, and it is not from my time as a member of the Royal Household, nor as a Government Whip or Lord-in-Waiting, nor from my five years as Government Chief Whip in this place, which came with the delight of being Captain of the Honourable Corps of the Gentlemen-at-Arms—a role practised by tradition by a number of colleagues in this House and currently, with distinction, by my noble friend Lord Ashton of Hyde. My excuse for joining in this historic debate is a small matter of childhood disappointment, which reminds us of the nature of the man whose death we mourn and provides an illustration of his character, which contributed so much to our nation. Many tributes have mentioned His Royal Highness’s love of sport and Outward Bound. Many have spoken of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and we have received powerful testimony of its influence for good from the current chairman of its trustees, the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson.
My experience involved something else which was very significant for many: his key role in the National Playing Fields Association. The Duke was due to arrive by helicopter to open a large new playing field, built as part of a neighbouring housing estate. This was the mid-1950s, when Macmillan was building 300,000 houses per year. His Royal Highness recognised the importance of sport and play in the lives of everybody, not just the privileged few. To cut the story short, bad weather meant a change of plan and, to my disappointment, my role was rendered redundant. It was the smallest incident, but the memory of it gave me reflection on Friday of the tens of thousands of visits that he made, not just out of duty but based on a genuine enthusiasm and his belief that he could, from a position of privilege, encourage enthusiasm in others.
There are lessons from this for us in this House. Noble Lords do not arrive without enthusiasm, but we have an opportunity to encourage it in others. This is, perhaps, particularly so in this period of change for the House, with a new Clerk of the Parliaments and a new Lord Speaker. Here we are, post Brexit and soon, I hope, post coronavirus, reflecting on the attributes that Prince Philip brought to the role that history made for him. As the House has heard, he was both a preserver—I think of his early realisation of the importance of the natural world in our lives—and a moderniser who was not afraid to support our Queen to encourage change in the way of maintaining our monarchy, keeping it central to our nation and the Commonwealth.
We in this House are but one small part of the fabric of the nation but, like His Royal Highness, we see that as both a privilege and a duty. Like him, we should see that preserving an institution’s relevance involves accepting change. Above all, we should be like him—enthusiastic about what we believe in: privilege and duty, preservation and change; and, above all, enthusiastic about living. That is why, on the occasion of his death, we can celebrate a life well lived.
My Lords, it is a great privilege to be able to speak in this debate, to pay tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. This country, and the whole Commonwealth, are most fortunate that the Queen’s consort has served their people so well. As many have said, after a difficult childhood the Prince served with distinction in the Second World War. When he married, he remained in the Navy until that was no longer possible. From that moment on, he served the Crown, the country and the Commonwealth with an unflinching sense of duty. He was energetically active, giving his support to countless good causes, some of which were not yet fashionable, such as the environment and the education of engineers. He had a remarkable talent for getting into the detail of so much with which he was connected.
The founding of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme has rightly been mentioned by many noble Lords, but there were many other activities and causes, here and abroad, which he did so much to help and encourage. For example, he took very seriously his duties as chancellor of the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh and, previously, the Universities of Wales and Salford. This morning, I received from the director-general of the Royal United Services Institute—of which I am a trustee—an interesting quote from a lecture the Duke gave in the 1980s. He said the idea that the military profession
“is somehow not comparable with law, engineering or medicine or that it should rank below … subjects so popular in most universities, strikes me as entirely ludicrous.”
That demonstrates his great interest, not only in the Armed Forces but in university education.
I also received this morning another quote, showing a completely different aspect of the Duke’s interests, from the deputy ranger of Windsor Great Park. It shows his great interest in arboriculture:
“We are enjoying the gardens and avenues and amenities planted by previous generations and it is because I feel myself to be a temporary custodian that I am planting for future generations.”
The Duke aroused enormous loyalty and affection in all those who worked with him. He brought enormous strength to the Crown and travelled throughout the Commonwealth to an unprecedented degree. He set an example to all of public service to the nation and to the Commonwealth. As the Prince of Wales has said, he was “a very special person”. The whole country has benefited from his long tour of duty at the centre of our affairs. May he rest in peace.
My Lords, I join others in the House in sending condolences to Her Majesty and the Royal Family on their very sad loss. When, last Friday, I first heard the news of the death of His Royal Highness, my immediate instinct was to go down to Buckingham Palace to pay my respects outside, but then I discovered that that was officially discouraged. So, for that reason, it is a real privilege to have this opportunity to pay my tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and to give thanks for his remarkable lifetime of service and unstinting support for Her Majesty.
In the part of London where I live, there is a large electric screen on the side of a building that every few minutes flips between advertisements for one bright product and another. Last Friday, within minutes of the news coming out about the death of the Duke, it was frozen; all it showed was a single black silhouette of a head against a white background. No words were necessary; the features on the head were unmistakable, and the message was clear: this country has suffered a great loss.
His Royal Highness lived a life of great intensity and saw many upheavals. He was a dashing figure from a previous generation of heroes: a brave man with a distinguished war record, and a man of action, reflection and dedication. The international reaction to his death was revealing. One expected warm words from Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and probably also from Zambia and Kenya, but there was also President Obrador, the left-wing President of Mexico, who thanked the Duke for his service to young people. All of us were aware of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, but what has come out more fully in the few days since his death is its extraordinary scale and the numbers of people, including from this House, who have benefited from the scheme, and how young lives were altered all over the globe.
I had the privilege of meeting the Duke on quite a few occasions, and I always enjoyed it, but the only government business I ever had with His Royal Highness was to do with the coinage, because he was a member of the advisory committee. He took a huge interest in the heraldic aspects of the coinage and in which birds, animals and flora were to be represented. He was also concerned with practical issues, such as whether the £1 coin would be identifiable by the blind.
In his diaries, Gyles Brandreth wrote that the Duke told him I was the obstacle to renewing the life of the royal yacht “Britannia”. I was horrified. That was not correct, and I took the liberty of writing to His Royal Highness to say so. I received a typically short and to the point vintage two-sentence letter, which I treasure: “Dear Lamont, I have no recollection of saying any such thing to Brandreth. How would I know what you thought?”
Humour was one of his ways of engaging with people. An Australian politician who campaigned for a republic in the referendum there on the monarchy told me how not long afterwards he met the Duke on a boat showing him around Sydney Harbour. “Are you one of those who campaigned against the monarchy?” the Duke asked. “Your Royal Highness,” he replied, “I have to confess that I am.” “Good”, the Duke replied, “I am always saying to Her Majesty, ‘Why do we have to come all this way to this godforsaken place?’” It was of course not true at all. He loved Australia, and he visited it 20 times. Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister, got it right when he was asked why the Duke was so popular in Australia. He said, “Because he is just like us.”
Sometimes, chinks appeared in the occasionally brusque exterior. Asked in an interview once whether he felt at home in Buckingham Palace, the Duke replied, curiously, “It depends on what you mean by ‘at home.’” It was an interesting reply from a man who, in his childhood, suffered exile, separation from his mother for years, the early death of his father, being virtually stateless and being passed from one relative to another. It seems somewhat improbable that a man with such an unstable, shifting background could have contributed so much to the stability and shaping of the modern monarchy. But he did exactly that, going from royal outsider to pillar of the nation. It was his steadfast partnership with Her Majesty for which we are profoundly grateful. It became a constant in our national life, earned respect for our country throughout the world and set a standard for duty which would inspire us all.
My Lords, first, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. It is beyond doubt that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh has taken his place in the ranks of great and outstanding individuals who have made a gigantic contribution to Britain and the Commonwealth. His dedication to duty has been, and always will be, inspirational to millions across the world.
I met His Royal Highness on a number of occasions, and all of them were unforgettable and are etched warmly on my memory. The first time I met him, 25 years ago, set the tone of our association. I was seated next to him at a luncheon for a young people’s environmental charity of which he was the patron. I was told by the organiser that the Duke was going to stay only for half an hour and that he could be a little impatient. I sat on his left, and to his right sat the organiser’s wife, to whom he spoke for over 25 minutes, until, finally, he turned to me and said, “So, who are you and what do you do?” I responded with a smile: “Well, sir, first, you tell me who you are and what you do, and I will tell you all about myself.” His eyes lit up with laughter and we immediately launched into a 30-minute, wide-ranging conversation. It was like opening an encyclopaedia. We even chatted about the quality of the fish we had been served at lunch. He told me that he had been the Prime Warden of the Fishmongers and that he would extend an invitation to me to visit Billingsgate Fish Market. To my amazement, the next day an official letter arrived from the Duke’s private secretary, who he had commanded to invite me to a very early morning tour of Billingsgate market followed by breakfast—an adventure that my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed.
I soon realised that the Duke took great delight in introducing people to new adventures. He also relished giving young people opportunities to shine, to follow their passion and to excel. He did so magnificently through his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, not just here in Britain but across the Commonwealth. David Clarke from Barbados was one young man who benefited from this. When the Duke presented him with his gold medal in Barbados, in the late 1970s, David told him that the awards in the Caribbean could be better organised to reach more young people. So the Duke told him, “Very well, you organise the awards.” David did this very successfully for 32 years across the Americas, with lots of adventures. David said that the Duke helped him to achieve beyond all his expectations.
Over the years, the Duke and I have corresponded on many occasions. He was the first to congratulate me on receiving my OBE in 2001, which my family adored. When I got my damehood last year, he wrote to me congratulating me again. When I ran the London Marathon, he sent me a note. He presented my daughter with her Duke of Edinburgh’s Award medal for climbing the Himalayas. His letters, which I will treasure for ever, were always full of humour and warmth, especially the one after his car accident, when he wrote, “I was hardly even on the road. I was just crossing from one side of the estate to the other side when it happened.”
However, the most empathetic letter told me about him coming to England as a child, going to a small school in Cheam and, as an outsider, being embraced by the British people, which meant a lot to him. As we know, to show his gratitude in turn, he was not afraid to press the reset button to do things differently so that the nation would benefit.
Prince Philip has shown us that it is not where you begin in life that is important but the legacy you leave behind and the difference you have made to society that really matters. As we celebrate his life, may he and Her Majesty the Queen rest assured that his legacy will live on in our history books for ever.
My Lords, I have always felt immensely privileged to be a Member of this House and able to speak in it, but today I feel a real sense of privilege in being able to say something about a man whom I have long admired and respected and to have the opportunity, in common with everyone else here, to pass on my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the other members of the Royal Family. I was thinking what on earth I was going to say that would be new and not said many times already; I confess that I will fail utterly in not repeating some of the sentiments that have been expressed, but I make no apology for that.
I will say something about the Duke of Edinburgh’s love for Scotland—the clue lies in the name and title. All of us are very much aware of his love for Balmoral and the outdoors. Much has been said about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, but I believe that Prince Philip’s early experience as a founding pupil at Gordonstoun—which some ignorant people present as a school where people have cold showers and run around in bare feet; it is rather more than that—was fundamental in shaping his character. That character is the reason all of us are so impressed by his achievements today.
I listened to the service from Westminster Abbey and the dean’s preaching on Sunday. He had it absolutely to a tee; he talked about the importance of the Prince’s character and how his faith gave him strength in his attitude towards life and public service. The motto of Gordonstoun School is “Plus est en vous”—noble Lords will excuse my pronunciation—or “There is more in you”. It could almost be a template for the Duke’s whole approach to life itself. It was certainly a template for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; Gordonstoun had a thing called the Moray Badge, which members of the school could compete for, as well as people from outside in the community. It taught them the importance of volunteering, of service, of adventure and of taking on that challenge which is more than you believe you can do. The great benefit of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was not that you learned how to put up a tent or work a Primus stove, but that it gave you confidence in yourself and raised your expectations of what could be achievable. So many millions of youngsters, as we have heard, have benefited from that. I am extremely grateful to Members of this House such as my noble friend Lord Kirkham who have played such a part in making the scheme so widely available around the world.
In recent days, all of us have learned a huge amount about the Duke of Edinburgh and his activities. I pay tribute to the BBC. I pay tribute to the BBC—I say it twice because it is not usual for me to do so, but it has done a fantastic job. My only slight niggle is that it would have been quite good if it had published and publicised some of these things while he was still alive and given him credit for them. Of course, he occasionally said things that upset people; to me he was the antidote to the celebrity culture—the me, how-great-I-am culture. He just got on with the job in hand and moved on to the next thing.
The happiest day of my ministerial career was when I was Secretary of State for Scotland; the Queen accepted an invitation to come and open the new hospital in Oban, which had been much promised and longed for. She came into the bay with the Duke on “Britannia” on a beautiful, sunny day without a cloud in the sky—which is usual for Oban—and as they disembarked I thought how proud I was to be British, what a fantastic day it was and how marvellous would be the ensuing publicity in the Scottish press. The Duke wandered off to talk to some people and made one of his jokes. To my horror, the headlines were about the Duke of Edinburgh’s gaffe. A journalist had taken away an out-of-context joke. I thought, “What must it be like to be the Duke of Edinburgh, carrying out these public services every day and getting no credit for it?” I now know the answer, as a result of the coverage we have heard in recent days—he did not really care. He just wanted to do the right thing and get on with the job.
What can you say about the Duke of Edinburgh? He was a man of faith. He left his country in an orange box and has got all of us here today paying tribute to the immense contribution he has made to our country. He sought no acclamation and no credit; you can see that in the arrangements he left for his funeral and the rest. He embraced change while still valuing the past. However, surely his biggest legacy will be the devotion which he has shown to Her Majesty the Queen, enabling her to serve our country as no previous monarch has been able to do, with such distinction.
How can I sum up his legacy to us, I thought, in two or three words? I decided on this: weren’t we lucky.
My Lords, listening to the wonderful tributes that have been made in your Lordships’ House, I was wondering what His Royal Highness Prince Philip, if he was looking in—as he will be—to see what we are saying, would be thinking. He would probably be thinking, “Why on earth are they all going on like that, and why are they all going on so long?” After such a long and productive life of service and duty—leaving his legacy in so many areas of our public life—his devoted support to Her Majesty the Queen and his work in promoting this country to not just the Commonwealth but the rest of the world, I hope he would realise that this celebration of his life is very important, not just to all of us here today but to the whole country.
His interests, which have all been mentioned, were never academic. They were always full of practical engagement—what he could do to make things work better seemed to be his everyday thought.
I have a couple of personal reasons for my interest in and admiration for the Duke throughout my life and my sadness at his death. Prince Philip was born in the same year as my wonderful mother, although four months earlier. Before she died in her 96th year, she always kept a close interest in, as she would say, watching him getting older too. Like the Duke, she was active right up to the end of her life.
As a child born just after the war ended, I inherited the Royal Family scrapbook about the time of the coronation and kept it up to date for many years. Looking back through it at the weekend, I was struck—the noble Lords, Lord Alderdice and Lord Morrow, and the noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, referred to this—by the many paper cuttings of his visits to Northern Ireland, my home. He was born in 1921, the year that Northern Ireland was founded; maybe that was part of the reason for his genuine love of that beautiful part of the United Kingdom, which he visited many times, as has been said. His death has brought forth many poignant tributes from the people he met.
But it is the support for young people, particularly those involved in sport—whether of the outward-bound type of trekking, camping, abseiling and caving or the more traditional sports—where my admiration is greatest. He took an interest in them all. When I first came to live in London and financed my way through an economics degree by using my qualification as a PE teacher to teach part-time in east London, I remember noting the numerous visits he made to local boxing clubs as part of his support for the London Federation of Boys’ Clubs. That great organisation, now known as London Youth, was one of the first of very many charitable organisations that he devoted his time and support to. In March 1948, he was present at the finals of the boxing competition at the Royal Albert Hall. Unlike many, he really understood the discipline that boxing gave young people and the life skills that those in the boxing clubs taught to so many.
When I was appointed the first female Minister for Sport, I received a very lovely letter from the Duke enclosing a lecture he had given in 1979 on the purpose of sport at the physical education association. He knew that, as a former PE teacher, I was an advocate of physical education in schools; he was more interested in that, I have to say, than the fact that I was the first woman to be Minister for Sport, and he wanted more qualified PE teachers. That lecture, which I reread over the weekend, showed just how far ahead of his time he was in his views on sport: the way professionalism and money were becoming much more influential, and the need for sport to continue when schools shut for the summer. He was critical, even back then, of the reduction in the number of PE teachers, playing fields and green spaces. Again, his work with the National Playing Fields Association as president for 64 years was a hands-on role; he even had a desk in the office to co-ordinate the Silver Jubilee appeal for the charity.
In all the sporting organisations of which he was president or patron, he did not limit himself to the formalities of the role but would question, cajole, advise and give practical help. I saw that personally in all the letters he sent to me as Minister for Sport. He was always questioning why it could not happen and why the bureaucracy was getting in the way. He was always pushing to get the numerous sporting bodies to co-operate rather than compete with each other. At one event at Buckingham Palace, where he had got a small group of us together to discuss what needed to be done, I said to him over dinner, “I think you would have made a really great Sports Minister”. I am afraid I cannot tell noble Lords his response; I really do not think that he would want me to put it into the public domain. But I actually meant what I said. We will all miss him, especially those involved in sport, but he leaves that amazing legacy, particularly for young people.
To add to what the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, said, I also congratulate the BBC. I have been a great critic of many aspects of the BBC in recent years, but its coverage of his death has been very good indeed, and it has got the tone exactly right on this very sad occasion.
All our thoughts now must be with Her Majesty and the rest of the Royal Family. After all, whatever anyone has said today, this is a family loss above everything else. I think the humble Address says it all, and I support it fully.
My Lords, it is only now, following the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, that we can begin to appreciate the wide range of his interests, activities and achievements. He had an extraordinarily full life; he was “action man”. Prince Philip, of all people, was unsuited to conformity with some of the strictures of royal life, but he did conform, albeit in his own inimitable style, for over 70 years.
Her Majesty the Queen’s words about her husband on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary in 1997—
“I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know”—
are heartfelt, generous and true. We all anticipate that history will take careful note of these words and continue to commemorate Prince Philip’s remarkable contribution to the life of this and other nations. Among many millions of others, I offer Her Majesty the Queen my sadness at his passing and at the immense loss that this represents for the Queen.
My Lords, it is with profound and humble sympathy that I express my sympathy for Her Majesty the Queen, in her tremendous loss, as she approaches her birthday. I also wish to convey my similar sympathy to all the rest of the family. I believe each one—the whole family—has suffered a tremendous loss.
It was my privilege to meet the late Duke, when I was the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and he was a member of the faculty, in 1978. On behalf of my wife and myself, I would like to say how thankful I am for all the kindnesses that he showed us since then—tremendous kindnesses in many different ways. It is just possible for me to say something about one or two of these.
The first is that he was a person who delighted in trying to help and see that all was right, and I found that that repeatedly happened in our meetings together. It is also a source of great pride to me that the Duke was called the Duke of Edinburgh, because that is where I was born, and it makes it a very worthwhile place. There are many other things that make it worth while too, but he is a very worthwhile person to have emerged with that title. The Duke of Edinburgh made it clear to us that he wanted to help in any way that he could, and we certainly found that. When I was Lord Chancellor, we had the privilege of seeing him quite often, and my wife had the privilege of taking his arm into a dinner for a foreign sovereign.
It is also important to remember the number of different societies to which he was connected, some of which I have some connection to. The first was the Royal Society of Edinburgh; he usually presented the royal medals, until he retired and Prince William took over that function. He was also in the service of Trinity House as master for many years and was chancellor of the University of Cambridge. It was very interesting for me to know that he was particularly interested in science during his time as chancellor of the University of Cambridge, as has been said several times. He sometimes found matters being discussed in science that were of value to Trinity House, so he took them over from one of his functions to another. I am extremely glad that the Princess Royal has succeeded him as master of Trinity House. It shows his connection with the Navy—which the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, referred to—as a very important aspect of the matters that Trinity House has to deal with.
The nature of his work across the world has been tremendous and in many ways it has been acknowledged only more fully—not yet fully—for the first time since his death. It was a great shock and a great sadness, and we are very thankful that he gave us so much in the course of his life, which we hope we used in the way in which he would have wished.
My Lords, our hearts go out to the Queen and to the whole Royal Family because theirs is the greatest loss. His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was a man of great gifts, and he shared them not just with this nation but with the wider world. I want to say a few words about that. We know that those gifts came from him as a man of action but also as a deeply thoughtful man. He was an innovative thinker, a free thinker, and someone who thought forward about the challenges that the whole world would face. He saw that at the heart of those challenges and addressing the challenges of these times is the need to unlock the potential of the individual.
So many in this House have been beneficiaries of the Duke’s forethought, thinking and capacity to innovate. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme is one aspect of that; I currently chair its international council. Another is Book Aid International. That charity, of which the Duke was patron for over 50 years, right up until his death, helped me as a little boy growing up in the Gold Coast—Ghana. With his friend, the Countess Ranfurly, he supported Book Aid to enable the library I went to as a little boy to be stocked with books—which he knew would make a difference, and which did make a difference. He went on supporting the work of Book Aid throughout his life. Indeed, one of his last receptions, at St James’s—those of us who were there will never forget it—was to benefit Book Aid to enable us to work in refugee camps and conflict zones and to respond with books and support for libraries and librarians in places dealing with the aftermath of climate change, making a difference in the lives of ordinary people. We saw—and see—that at work in the work of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award internationally, in more than 140 countries where the award is making a difference. The messages that have flowed into us at Award House over the past 72 hours have demonstrated its reach and its impact.
I will share just one aspect of that contact between His Royal Highness and the wider world that dates back to a visit he made in South Africa with Nelson Mandela to Pollsmoor Prison. The award globally is making a difference in prisons, changing young lives. When he went to Pollsmoor with Nelson Mandela, the award was operating in South Africa for the first time because His Royal Highness would not allow it to work in apartheid South Africa, where young people, black and white, of different colours and creeds, were not able to do the award together. He said no to racism because his award was incompatible with racism. That was His Royal Highness for you: he would not allow it in racist South Africa but he supported and encouraged it in the new South Africa. The award was for everyone.
His attitude is summed up by his writing. We know he wrote 14 books, but one in particular, A Question of Balance, strikes me as being of particular significance. He wrote:
“For the first time people are beginning to be conscious of the whole world and its place in the solar and stellar system. Political consciousness has been going up the scale from ‘my family’, ‘my city’ ‘my country’, to ‘my world’ … If consciousness on this scale can be combined with love and concern then there is real hope.”
Love and concern—that summed up His Royal Highness’s life; love of Queen and duty, concern for a shared planet and a shared humanity.
In Africa, when someone such as His Royal Highness passes on, they say “A mighty tree has fallen.” So indeed it has. In South Africa they say, “Hamba kahle, mkhulu”, which means, “Go well, great one.” Go well.
My Lords, this is certainly the end of an era, and I welcome this opportunity to extend my most heartfelt sympathy and deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen, Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and all members of the Royal Family impacted by the sad death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh.
For around 30 years I was privileged to experience a very close association with His Royal Highness through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. This included 15 years in a unique post involving both the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and the UK award. Most recently, I spent 10 years as UK chairman of the trustees, handing over to the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, who spoke so eloquently earlier. In these capacities I enjoyed the immense honour and great pleasure of working directly with Prince Philip, a very hands-on patron, travelling around the world with His Royal Highness and experiencing his unwavering high standards and expectations; his attention to detail, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, and several other noble Lords; his unfailing punctuality; and his instant grasp and command of recorded minutes and complex briefings. I saw his incredible work rate and his direct and unambiguous approach first hand and close up, marvelling at his easy manner, talent and expertise as he won friends, cemented relationships and interacted with participants, volunteers and supporters of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and others in his own inimitable way.
Over 20 very active years, we had the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of the United States together on several occasions, from New York to Miami, Washington to Los Angeles, throughout the Midwest and many points in between. Africa, Asia and much of Europe featured among those travels too. For me, this was a unique front row seat and a privileged education in the world of the charity that Prince Philip created and nurtured right from scratch and which has changed for the better the lives of so many millions of young people all around the world. This exposure to what I can describe only as the magic of Prince Philip changed my life most positively too.
In the USA, Prince Philip’s working day frequently started with an early morning breakfast meeting with maybe 60 attendees, often ending that day with a black-tie dinner perhaps 1,000 miles away, with half a dozen talks and lectures in between. He made speeches on behalf of other organisations to which he was committed as well as for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award itself. It was an endless call for his attention, direction, help, advice, support and non-stop handshakes, and he never flagged at all. His work ethic was tremendous, his stamina prodigious. He simply never let up, and in addition to his very full planned programme he was always able to deal with the unexpected, spontaneously, on the hoof and unscripted. He was resolute and determined and he enjoyed a unique combination of qualities and a focus that enabled him to overcome all opposition and to get things done on behalf of people less privileged than himself. Fortunately, many of those rare qualities are in the DNA of Prince Edward, who today has dedicated himself to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award most ably, capably and passionately. I think we can be assured that it is in good hands.
I am conscious that Prince Philip absolutely hated compliments and never wanted to be the cause of any fuss. Nevertheless, I will personally remember His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh as a hands-on, high-energy, hard-working boss—a charming, strong and vigorous man with a wicked sense of humour. He was multilayered, multifaceted and selfless. He was charismatic, caring and possessed of so much down-to-earth common sense, combined with real sensitivity, empathy and passion.
Close up, I witnessed a kind-hearted man at work. Even well into his 90s, His Royal Highness walked for miles and spent hours meeting Duke of Edinburgh’s Award participants. I shall cherish for ever my memories of his kindness and compassion, whether in presenting gold awards to the parents of award achievers who had died after attaining their award but before the presentation date, or in speaking to prisoners and many others from difficult and impossibly challenging backgrounds who were taking part in the award programme.
He was a very special man who literally made the days of so many young people and their families through his awards. He did so every day of his life for decades. His was a unique achievement and a truly outstanding contribution to our country and the wider world. He will be sorely missed, and I have no doubts that, as the noble Lord, Lord Janvrin, wisely commented, history will judge him kindly.
My Lords, I venture to suggest that His Royal Highness The Prince Philip was probably unperturbed by being deprived of the possibility of being a Member of this House by the House of Lords Act 1999, having been introduced in 1948, but what a marvellous speaker and Member he would have been, with his style and knowledge so well suited to the highest standards of this House. We were left to contemplate this on the many occasions when he accompanied Her Majesty the Queen to the State Opening and we wondered what he was making of the speech from the Throne.
His appearance always lifted spirits. I first came across this when I was a student of the Inner Temple, of which he was a Royal Bencher and which mourns him. He attended several student occasions, and there was nothing like his appearance at a gathering of law students to impress on us the solemnity and special nature of the profession we were embarking on. His conversation was always apt and, happily, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal has continued in this position with the same welcome attributes.
I am glad to have this opportunity to put on record the gratitude—indeed, the most heartfelt emotion—experienced by those who are aware of the heroic acts of His Royal Highness’s mother, Princess Alice. The daughter of a Holocaust survivor who was saved by her has recounted how, in 1943, it was clear in Athens that Greek Jews were being taken to concentration camps. One Alfred Cohen, head of a prominent family and living among the community of 8,000 Jews, came across Princess Alice’s lady-in-waiting. Through her, the princess offered his family refuge on the top floor of her house, only yards from the Gestapo headquarters. Mr Cohen wrote that, for them, it was “an absolute miracle” that the lady in waiting had gone to see the Princess. An hour later, they were informed that she would take them in—father, wife, daughter and grandson. When the German generals came round looking for people in hiding, the princess pretended that she could not understand them because she was deaf. They left her alone. She did this despite the sanction of execution had she been found out. The Cohen family survived the war.
At her request, Princess Alice was buried in the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives. In 1994, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip became the first member of the Royal Family to visit Israel when he accepted a special recognition of his mother for her rescue effort, visited her burial site and planted a tree in her memory. It seems that His Royal Highness shared his mother’s kind nature, perhaps recalling that he had come to the UK as a child refugee. Speaking on the occasion of the award to his mother, he said:
“The Holocaust was the most horrific event in all Jewish history, and it will remain in the memory of all future generations.”
In 2015, he and the Queen visited Bergen-Belsen.
Despite the inevitable criticism, His Royal Highness spoke many times at Jewish events and supported the Jewish National Fund, an environmental organisation. The Jewish community appreciated him and will miss him. He supported the Council of Christians and Jews and, not unsurprisingly, had a keen appreciation of religious differences. When he visited the Sternberg Centre in the 1990s, he was shown the interfaith room, with his hosts telling him that they worked hard on Jewish-Christian relationships. “Really?” he replied, “And what about Jewish-Jewish relationships?”
His generous, brave spirit and his empathy with victims, such as those of Aberfan, will always be remembered. He has been a model for the Royal Family for so many causes, for selflessness and for bravery. I feel privileged to take part in this tribute and offer my condolences.
My Lords, like others, I proffer my heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family on the loss of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. He was a unique, pivotal figure who helped to modernise the monarchy—often with refreshing informality, as we have heard—while supporting Her Majesty the Queen in her constitutional role.
I had the great privilege of meeting the Duke on several occasions. The lasting impressions that he left on me were an overriding sense of public duty and a strong personal devotion to the Queen. As others have said, his approach was simply to get on with the job with enthusiasm and vitality. He was a man of great faith and, as we have heard, was the longest-serving royal consort by some distance, thus helping to provide continuity and stability.
In Wales, he was known for his commitment, dignity and support of the monarch. As the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, just reminded us, he showed massive sensitivity at the time of Aberfan, which is still talked about with approval and warmth. More recently, with the development of the Senedd—formerly the Assembly —and on the jubilee tours, his great contributions were of energy, enthusiasm and support. We have heard of his lasting, superb contribution of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Boateng, reminded us, has transformed the lives of millions around the globe.
His was truly a life well lived. It is a loss for all of us but, of course, today and for the days ahead, our special thoughts are with Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family for their personal and profound loss.
My Lords, in his compelling speech, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, referred to the fact that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was enormously proud of his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines. As someone who has had the honour of serving in the Royal Marines, I shall speak to this role and to the great contribution he made to our corps over many years.
We as a corps were immensely privileged and fortunate that, from June 1953 to December 2017—nearly 65 years —he was our Captain General. He completely understood the corps and its specialist warfare branches. He understood the commando spirit and the egalitarian nature of the corps. With his extensive operational experience in World War II, he understood that the highest standards are essential for fighting troops.
Royal Marines have been deployed on operations almost continuously through his service as Captain General. He took a keen interest in their deployment and in their training. He was a source of wise advice and encouragement to the many Marines that he met. He was at ease when he was with us and he put everyone else at ease. He had a wonderful sense of humour, which is an essential quality for a Royal Marine. He was a straight talker and he led by example with an indomitable spirit. His great qualities were hugely appreciated by all Royal Marines, including the many who are badged into the United Kingdom Special Forces. It is no accident that his last official engagement in 2017 was with our great corps, including our superb Royal Marines Band Service, in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. It rained the whole time. He was 96 years old; he enjoyed the occasion and spoke to many serving Royal Marines, retired Marines and cadets. He understood and appreciated the strength of the Royal Marines family—once a Royal Marine, always a Royal Marine. That goes too for their spouses, partners, children, parents and many more.
All the members of our corps wish to send our deepest sympathies to Her Majesty the Queen. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to her late husband who was revered and respected and who was and will continue to be held in profound and lasting affection.
My Lords, much has rightly been said about the Duke’s sense of duty and his support for Her Majesty the Queen. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme has, as we have heard, literally been a lifesaver for so many young people. Perhaps I may concentrate on two other aspects of his character that he has happily bequeathed to his children and which have also been praised. Those who have come into contact with members of the Royal Family will be well aware of the sense of humour—the almost mischievous sense of humour—that they delight in. It is essential, really, given the lives that they live tirelessly on our behalf.
The Duke of Edinburgh had a particular penchant for the ridiculous and for the debunking of the obviously foolish. Aspects of that have clearly and joyously been passed on to the next generation. He was a patron of the Cartoon Art Trust and I like to think that he would have chuckled at Martin Rowson’s cartoon in Saturday’s Guardian which depicted Prince Philip arriving at the pearly gates and observing some angels in mid-flight above, exclaiming with astonishment, “What bloody big grouse they have up here!”
Prince Philip also had an extraordinary attribute that he has bequeathed to his family—his love of nature: painting, wildlife, and the conservation of the lands and waters it inhabits. When I was a young teenager and a boatman at Morston—the best job I ever had, and I am afraid the only one I probably had in common with Prince Philip—he would visit the north Norfolk bird sanctuary on Blakeney Point. His passion for the birds and the seals was palpable and infectious. This espousal of environmental causes could not be more relevant to our times and the problems that we and following generations are going to have to solve.
Following on from Prince Philip’s own decrying of unnecessary fuss and length, I shall keep my thoughts short, given that so much has been said so eloquently already. However, I would like to finish on a note of sympathy and sadness. I learned from the death of my own father, Lennox, that however much you might expect a death due to illness or old age, nothing actually prepares you for it, as Prince Philip’s daughter, the Princess Royal, has already observed. The reality, the degree of shock, and the void that suddenly rears up, mean that my thoughts and heartfelt condolences and sympathy are respectfully offered to Her Majesty the Queen and her family.
My Lords, along with your Lordships, I send my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family. I got to know His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh when over several years he came to stay with us in Scotland to take part in a local carriage driving event. Although he was by then already in his late 70s, needless to say, he was undaunted by the challenges of the terrain, and with consummate skill he negotiated the hairpin bends of this rather uneven ground with the gusto and enthusiasm of a teenager, in spite of occasional protestations from his equerry, himself an energetic man also in his 70s, Sir Brian McGrath.
While always positive and good-humoured, what so many recall as being particularly impressive was the Duke of Edinburgh’s humility and lack of self-importance. He was quick to put everyone at ease with his perceptive understanding, and in conversation he showed his eagerness to help and encourage whenever he could. With that attitude and those beliefs, it is hardly surprising that nationally and internationally, as Her Majesty’s consort, he is held in such great respect and has promoted so much good will— not least through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, started by him here and now in 140 other countries. It promotes well-being, self-development, outreach and other opportunities that he has enabled for countless numbers of young people as they grow up.
I join with noble Lords in looking back on his life and work with huge thanks and great joy.
My Lords, I am most grateful for the opportunity, particularly as a former trade unionist, to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh and to speak of one of the less well-known but equally important contributions that he made to society. I refer to the creation of the Commonwealth Study Conference in 1956. He saw a problem between the relationship between industry and the community around it and decided that it need to be addressed, not only in the UK but also across the Commonwealth. He founded the first ever Commonwealth Study Conference in 1956, which was held in Oxford with around 300 participants from Commonwealth countries. It was an experiment that brought together young leaders from business, unions, and people from a range of different backgrounds, Governments and the community sector. They assembled in Oxford where they were given an outline of the problems they had to address, then sent off to different parts of the country to study how the UK was coping with the impending changes that he had identified. They then came back and presented a report to Prince Philip, which was subjected to the interrogation that I know some noble Lords will have experienced.
The conference was a great success—so much so that it was decided to continue with them on a four-yearly cycle. They have been going on since then with regional conferences held in between. To date, 44 conferences have been held. They are about leadership, capturing high-fliers and influencing them before they reach positions of authority and possibly entrench their views and positions. They showed them the truth about what is happening in industry and society, and making visible the good and the bad so that they could see the need for change. They brought together people across social, political and national divides so that they could come together and reach common viewpoints and rounded solutions, rather than the opposition that we see so much of in society. They were about demonstrating that leadership can make a difference, but only leadership where action is involved as well.
Because the Duke was such an inspiration, most of us took action, carrying out the particular leadership roles we achieved with the aim of trying to improve society, whatever that came to mean for us given the jobs we did and the views we held. It is estimated that around 10,000 people have now attended the conferences over 60-plus years. His influence has had a powerful impact on the actions of those who have been selected to participate. Some of them have become the Prime Ministers of their countries.
I was a participant in the 1980 Canadian conference and, on behalf of the 10,000 participants who benefited from these conferences and study groups, I express our profound gratitude for the Duke and the opportunity he gave us, and for extending and supporting the next study conference in Canada, in 2023. The role that he played in previous conferences will be fulfilled this time by his daughter, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. I express our gratitude, sympathy for the family and affection for them all, in particular the Duke. I am sure that he would want us not only to express such sentiments today but to look to the future with positiveness, and to give our support and affection to those in his family and the legacy that he leaves behind.
My Lords, on one occasion, I was sitting at a dinner besides an elderly former headmaster who had devoted his life to young people and who believed passionately in technical and vocational education, apprenticeships, skills training and anything that could be done to give young people an opportunity in life. Well in his 90s, he said something to me that was quite profound: “Reg, there is no apprenticeship for old age”. Similarly for the Duke of Edinburgh, there was no apprenticeship for being consort to Her Majesty for so many decades. This was learning on the job, something that he did with great aplomb and effectiveness.
As a Minister, I had the privilege of sitting at a luncheon with him in Hillsborough one day. The table consisted of a mixture of politicians, community representatives and businesspeople. After we had eaten, and with a glint in his eye, he continued to act as agent provocateur and brought pressure to bear on the politicians. It will be no surprise to noble Lords that politicians in Northern Ireland at that time deserved a great deal of scrutiny, and indeed criticism, but he did so in an entertaining way. Nevertheless, he made his point in front of the business community and community representatives.
However, I believe that he was kryptonite for pomposity. He disliked people who became too full of themselves and got carried away by their positions. He could bring everybody down to earth, but in a very amusing way.
On behalf of my colleagues in the Ulster Unionist Party, I express our deep condolences to Her Majesty, and wish her and her family every blessing in the challenging days ahead.
I join other noble Lords in paying tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Over the past few days, and today in your Lordships’ House, we have learned more about how His Royal Highness touched the lives of so many people across the nation and the world.
From an extraordinarily tough beginning, he became the most wonderful role model and example for his collective generation. My generation grew up looking up to and admiring the Duke of Edinburgh, always there, steadfast, at the side of Her Majesty the Queen. His Royal Highness took pride of place in our good old-fashioned scrap-books and stamp collections, and in our local and national newspapers, always with good news and forward-looking stories and events. We felt transported to those distant islands that the Duke visited across the world. His remarkable life was exciting for us. He was an enduring figure in our national and international landscape, most particularly the Commonwealth. His approach was direct, transcending all cultures, creeds and interests, and always straightforward. Indeed, he gave one the impression that he was genuinely interested, even if those addressing him were tongue-tied. He was inspirational and optimistic, the development of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme being one of many achievements that gave others the confidence to make a difference to their own futures and chances in life.
I was lucky enough to meet the Duke of Edinburgh on several quite distinct occasions, including the marriage of His Royal Highness Prince William and Catherine Middleton, as they became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. That day was, first and foremost, a happy family occasion, to which a few were lucky enough to be invited and to share in the remarkable natural informality that prevailed following the wedding ceremony. That said, whatever the occasion, when engaging in conversation with Prince Philip, it was important to be on one’s mettle. In return, he never looked over one’s shoulder; rather, those piercing eyes watched as he listened intently, as if no one else was there. He could be very amusing, always sharp as a tack, and wonderfully direct. In recent days, some commentators have referred to the Duke of Edinburgh as the father of the nation—a good thought and a truism that he may have been surprised to hear.
As a working bencher of Inner Temple, I am proud to put on record that His Royal Highness became a Royal Bencher in 1954 and Royal Treasurer in 1961. He visited the inn on numerous occasions, including the rededication of the round in Temple Church in 1958 and, in 2008, on the 400th anniversary of the letters patent granted to the Inns of Court by James I. More recently, in 2013, he attended a special service following the restoration of the Temple Church Harrison & Harrison organ. I wish he could have seen the results of Project Pegasus, a transformational redevelopment of the Inner Temple due to complete in July this year. With respect, I sense that he would have thoroughly approved of the inn’s new focus on state-of-the-art technology, captured in a stunning lecture theatre and training rooms for the benefit of both barristers and students.
When a governor of a free school in Langley, Slough, I learned much more from others about the Duke’s involvement in local life in and around the town of Windsor. Until very recently, he was an active patron and supporter of many voluntary organisations. In particular, it is clear that he disliked bureaucracy and anything that might compromise progress. If the accounts were a constraint to just getting things done within an organisation, “get on and change the accountants” was his approach.
We miss him now—a loss to us all that will endure in a changing world that might never again quite appreciate how one person, propelled into a unique position in public life, made a real and positive difference to so many of us in our private lives. I send my heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family.
My Lords, I begin by joining others in expressing my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and all the members of the Royal Family.
My abiding memory of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is his kindness shown to me and my wife Helen. That kind nature was evident every time I had the privilege to meet him. I also have fond memories of conversations when I was enlightened by his vast and deep knowledge of many subjects, like on the occasion he gave me a lesson on lighthouses, on which he was very knowledgeable. As you would expect, there were also times when he would take a delight in teasing me and, as I learned, waiting to see how I would respond. And he enjoyed it if you returned the compliment.
Every year His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh presided over the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s gold medal awards. On one such occasion I did a citation for Sir David Lane, who discovered P53, a cancer gene. At that time he was working at Dundee University, where I was chancellor. Later, His Royal Highness congratulated me on my citation, but noble Lords can guess what was coming next. He asked: “Do you understand any of it?” I should have said, “Of course I do”, but being taken aback and trying to be polite I said, “Some of it, your Highness, but not all.” He was then interested in my role as chancellor at Dundee University. When I said that I had just attended four days of graduation ceremonies, he paused, looked at me and said, “You attended four days of graduation ceremonies?” I said yes. He said, “You’re a mug to stand doing that for four days.” He was of course chancellor of Edinburgh University at the time.
On subsequent occasions I learned not just to take it, but to try to give some back. I had to be quick-witted. I think I did win once, and then only just. He was a person I would look forward to meeting at every opportunity I was offered, for I knew that I would be enriched and be treated like a friend, with kindness, even to be teased, all in good humour. The last occasion I had the privilege to meet him was a cold wet July afternoon in the grounds of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. Despite many people being around him, he made sure that I had an opportunity to have a brief conversation with him—a reflection of his kind nature and ability to make you feel important. When I inquired after his health, he just said, “I’m not liking the cold any more.” Soon after that, he retired from public service.
The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury is reported to have said that the Duke of Edinburgh lived life with the hand he was dealt. The Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita says:
“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
The Duke of Edinburgh lived his own destiny, not imperfectly. The text goes on to say that one should live a life with purity, strength, discipline, honesty, kindness and integrity—qualities and virtues that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, had in plenty. With them he enriched us all.
My Lords, it is indeed a great but very sad privilege to join noble Lords in paying tribute to the life of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. I am of a generation born in the year that Her Majesty the Queen ascended to the throne, and certainly throughout my life the Royal Family has been the anchor and source of comfort to our nation and the Commonwealth in times of adversity and grief. But, as many of your Lordships have acknowledged, the strength and unbelievable sustainability of Her Majesty’s reign can have been made possible only through the enormous support that Prince Philip provided.
Prince Philip’s contribution to the monarchy and the stability of our nation is immeasurable, but beyond that he was indeed one of what is fast becoming a rare class of people: he commanded enormous respect for his qualities of leadership, resolve and individuality. With a promising post-war naval career before him, he chose public duty above his own calling in order to serve the nation and Commonwealth. For that he has the gratitude of us all.
Prince Philip’s dedication to the people of the United Kingdom was without question of the highest order. He will be remembered here in Wales with deep affection for his concern about and immediate response to the disaster that struck Aberfan in 1966. Prince Philip was the first member of the Royal Family to visit the Aberfan community, where he visited the scene and consoled those still trying to comprehend the scale of the devastation the day after the tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of 116 children and 28 adults. Prince Philip continued to visit Aberfan, attending various commemorative events remembering those children and adults who perished in the disaster.
I was privileged to meet Prince Philip during my time as a Member of the then National Assembly for Wales. I was frankly amazed at his in-depth knowledge of the issues and challenges facing Welsh people. For me, his ability to blend charm and wit yet be forthright in his views combined to make our conversation one of my most memorable experiences.
However, one of Prince Philip’s greatest legacies will be his concern for youth and the desire
“to help young people gain essential skills, experience, confidence and resilience to successfully navigate adult life”
through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, as the scheme proudly proclaims. The scheme is international, with young people from some 130 countries and territories abroad participating. For many years I was privileged to help administer the scheme within the Royal Air Force Air Cadets and witnessed the profound and positive effect that partaking in the scheme had on the young air cadets. Launched in 1956, it is an exceptional legacy to the memory of His Royal Highness.
Outside of his public duties, we should of course acknowledge his mastery of polo and carriage driving, at which he excelled as a sportsman. He was also an accomplished yachtsman and aviator. But above all it was his dedication to his indefatigable role in support of the monarchy for which he will be remembered affectionately, as witnessed by the outpouring of sorrow from the many nations of the Commonwealth and around the world. I pay tribute to his enormous contribution during his lifetime of devotion and commitment to the nation and the Commonwealth. I join in extending my and my family’s heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family in the sound knowledge that Prince Philip’s memory will live on in the many organisations and lives he touched.
My Lords, my sympathies and condolences are with Queen Elizabeth, her family, friends and the many associates of her late husband the Duke. Bereavement is immensely difficult at any time, but more so now as it is compounded by the Covid restrictions and lockdowns.
I will look at the life of Prince Philip from a Northern Ireland/Ireland perspective. There is a reference in the Motion to the world-renowned Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, which recognise youth endeavour, enterprise and outdoor recreational achievement. They are all about building the character and strength of young people. In Northern Ireland, many young people right across the community have benefited from that growing-up experience through this scheme. There are 401 active Duke of Edinburgh centres from 24 licensed organisations. Young people are currently taking part right across our divided community, through schools, churches, Boys’ Brigade companies, Girls’ Brigade companies, Ulster GAA, Scouts, Féile an Phobail, the probation board and the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster. This is a representative proportion of the reach of these awards in Northern Ireland. It is worth noting that 6,018 young people started their programme in 2020 and 3,277 awards were achieved.
Up until 2017, Prince Philip used to come to Hillsborough to present these awards. There is also direct collaboration with the President of Ireland’s awards for young achievement and steadfast commitment to outdoor recreational participation, known as Gaisce, which was negotiated between President McAleese and Prince Philip some years ago.
For me, the most memorable event involving the Prince and the Queen was their official visitation to Ireland in May 2012, when they visited the Garden of Remembrance, dedicated to those who fought for Irish freedom, Croke Park, Islandbridge memorial, and then attended the dinner in Dublin Castle. I participated, as a party leader in Northern Ireland, in many of these events. This was a symbolic visit to many sites representing Ireland’s independence from Britain, but I have to say that both the Queen and Prince Philip fully participated in these visits, thus showing the duality of relationships, the necessity of parity of esteem, and a maturing of relationships between Britain and Ireland. Then there was the reciprocal visit by President Higgins to London—to Buckingham Palace and to Westminster itself in 2014.
It is worthy of note that the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said last week on the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh:
“The commitment of the royal family to Irish-British relations is an important part of the work we do together—and today we pay tribute to Prince Philip’s own important contribution”,
no doubt referring to that duality of relationships and building blocks of reconciliation through the awards scheme, and also that particular visit, among other things. I concur with that view. Those building blocks for reconciliation and parity of esteem that were demonstrated by the Queen and Prince Philip with President McAleese and, latterly, President Higgins, are required now more ever with the background of increased community and political tensions in Northern Ireland.
Working with the Heads of State in Ireland, the Queen and Prince Philip demonstrated that we have a common history and shared experiences of historic conflict, both on the island of Ireland and between these islands—including where the Prince’s family were deeply affected, through the murder of his uncle, Lord Mountbatten. The sad departure of Prince Philip after a long and fulfilling life should be, for us, a renewed opportunity to build relationships and promote reconciliation, thus sustaining that new bond of shared endeavour across Britain and Ireland.
My Lords, I am most grateful for this opportunity to support the humble Address to Her Majesty and join the expression of this House’s deepest regret and sympathy to Her Majesty and the Royal Family. All noble Lords who have contributed to this Address have rightly paid tribute to the unflinching support given by His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, to Her Majesty throughout her reign. Without doubt, that support has been a central plank in the success and stability of the monarchy over seven decades. I join all noble Lords in our expression of deep sympathy and sincere condolence to Her Majesty and the family. But in addition, His Royal Highness was a man of an extraordinary range of interests and singular talents, and it is to some of those—particularly on behalf of people in Caithness, where I serve as lord-lieutenant, as well as more personally—that I want to pay tribute.
For some 40 years, the royal yacht “Britannia” came to Scrabster each summer so that the Royal Family could visit the Queen Mother at her home, the Castle of Mey. His Royal Highness, an accomplished artist, often used the time to paint, and, indeed, to this day visitors to the Castle of Mey can see the works he gave to the Queen Mother hanging in the dining room. His ability as an artist was perhaps lesser known than some of his interests but none the less was a vital part of his character.
Another great interest was in innovation and engineering, and he made several visits to Caithness in 1957. One was to tour the new Dounreay, Britain’s first experimental fast breeder reactor facility—a technology in which Britain led the world at the time. His Royal Highness spoke knowledgeably with those on site and was deeply interested in what was happening. My father, who was there, often told me about it. An interest in and support for innovation, engineering and technology were the hallmark of all the work that he did.
On a personal level, I had the great privilege of being His Royal Highness’s host at a reception on your Lordships’ Terrace given by the Institute of Management Services, of which he had been president. The institute is dedicated to productivity and the study of methods of productivity and management. His Royal Highness was a highly engaged president who, as with all organisations he was associated with, took a keen interest in all the institute did. At the time, I was patron and had the task of making a presentation, which I did with what I thought were appropriate words. However, it was clearly too long, and he said loudly, but with a big smile, “Oh bloody well get on with it!”
While we mark his departure with great sadness, we also celebrate the long and remarkable life of a great polymath. We give thanks for a lifetime of support to Her Majesty, a lifetime of service to the nation, and a lifetime of encouragement to young people. His attitude was: get on with it. He made the most of the cards dealt and did not worry about the cards that were not dealt. That is an example to us all, and if we can live by that, it will be a fitting memorial to a long and productive life.
My Lords, Psalm 133 begins:
“Hinneh mah tov umah na’im Shevet achim gam yachad.”
“How good and how pleasant it is that people sit together in unity.”
His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh has brought us together in unity as we pay our respects and celebrate a wonderful life. In so doing, I offer sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and all the Royal Family, as was done throughout the country in synagogues last Shabbat.
I recall as a primary schoolboy the sheer excitement that Prince Philip was visiting our school, King David in Liverpool, arriving in a helicopter and landing on our football pitch—although it is true that many of us were most concerned that he might ruin our football pitch. Growing up in Liverpool, I was an active and proud member of the Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade, where participation and attaining success in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme was the pinnacle of achievement; over 25,000 members of JLDB over the years have been honoured to have been DofE award recipients.
On moving to London in my early 20s, I was fortunate to meet and become friendly with a wonderfully kind man, Stanley Cohen OBE, of blessed memory. He was originally from Birmingham and was a successful businessman and generous philanthropist, but, most importantly, he was down to earth, plain speaking and just a thoroughly good man, supported by his equally wonderful wife, Joy. Stanley, via the diaries for business initiative started by His Royal Highness, became close to the Duke, and Stanley not only supported the DofE scheme significantly but persuaded his friends to join him. Stanley could be relied upon, but it seems to me that the friendship was also important to Prince Philip, for Stanley was not an airs-and-graces man; he was just the sort of straightforward man that Michael Hobbs, the Prince’s equerry, would call to join a dinner or a small function to ensure that a familiar, reliable and friendly face was in attendance.
In July 2000, as vice-chairman of the governors of Hertsmere Jewish Primary School, I had the honour to welcome Prince Philip to officially open the school. He had great pleasure in naming it the “Joy and Stanley Cohen Hertsmere Jewish Primary School”. What happened on that day, and the next, has always stayed with me; the Duke was nothing short of amazing. He stopped to talk to so many of the five year-olds who were waving union jacks on the pathway, welcoming him to the school. The official ceremony started late because he wanted to personally thank each and every one of those friends of the school who had made donations, and he joked that the reason that Stanley had a surgical boot on one foot that day was because someone had got their own back on Stanley as he was trying to raise funds.
In his memorable and witty speech, the Duke addressed the children and apologised that they had come for the occasion the day after school had broken up for the summer. He said, amusingly, to the parents that school holidays were a bit long and a bit of a bind, and as he pulled the cord to unveil the plaque he announced that the school was clearly open but was now “more open than usual”. But on the front page of the Times the following day was a headline that the Duke of Edinburgh bemoaned school holidays. This was unfair, untrue and missed the whole essence of the man. I note the wonderful and heart-warming coverage in the press over the last couple of days, but it was not always so.
As has been said, Prince Philip was ahead of his time in so many ways. The Times of Israel said that Prince Philip
“was perhaps the closest member of the … royal family to Jews and Jewish causes, and”,
as the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, said,
“in 1994 made a historic visit to Israel”,
although a personal visit,
“to honor his mother, Princess Alice … in Jerusalem”.
On that trip, Prince Philip also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem to participate in a ceremony honouring his mother as a Righteous Among the Nations who saved three members of the Cohen family in Athens during the Nazi occupation of Greece. In his speech, Prince Philip said:
“We did not know, and, as far as we know, she never mentioned to anyone, that she had given refuge to the Cohen family … I suspect that it never occurred to her that her action was … special.”
I conclude as I began, for while the children were singing and entertaining the attendees at the school opening, they sang the popular song “Hinneh Mah Tov Umah Na’im”, Psalm 133. A number of tunes are sung to these words and, as the children sang the fourth melody, the Duke touched my arm and whispered to me. He said, “I recognise that Jewish tune”. I replied, “Indeed, Your Royal Highness. It’s the Flintstones”. He giggled like a schoolboy. He was able to share the excitement of the day with the children, parents and teachers—a day they will never forget, a day I will never forget, and a day His Royal Highness repeated for so many people thousands of times. Yehi zichro baruch: may his memory be a blessing.
My Lords, it is a sad honour to speak today in this tribute. Like all noble Lords, I express my deepest condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and all members of the Royal Family. His Royal Highness Prince Philip is, first and foremost, a loss to Her Majesty and his family. It is a family loss above all.
It is also a huge loss to this nation and the Commonwealth. As a former Commonwealth Minister, I know how deeply he was respected through this unique family of nations. I have no doubt that many of the memories that we are sharing are personal, but they have to be seen in the setting of our collective memory. We have rightly reflected today on his contribution to national and international life, to the forces, to the protection of the natural world, to science, to intellectual life itself and to knowledge itself.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award somehow missed me as a teenager, unlike the many hundreds of thousands of my contemporaries who enjoyed so many new experiences. But as a keen climber and mountain walker myself, I was persuaded to take part and to observe from a suitable alpine distance a group of 16 year-olds pick their way across the icy slopes of Mont Blanc in pursuit of their gold badge. Our role was just to keep our distance and keep a weather eye on their progress without being seen. A weather eye is the right description; the weather closed in. The youngsters were fine. Those observing them from about 500 metres higher had eventually to be guided off the mountain. When I described this to His Royal Highness some years later, he found it hilarious and clear evidence that not having been an award holder in my own right had all but sealed my fate on that mountain. Kindly, he then quickly turned to me and said he wanted to know which animals I had seen apart from the humans, who were probably the least interesting.
I hugely admired his interest in higher education. His detailed knowledge of science and technology were directly integrated into his passion for a diverse group of institutions. Whether Cambridge, Edinburgh or London Guildhall, he saw no hierarchy. I recall that at all three he told audiences that the city they should most focus on was Liverpool. It was the hard-working endeavour of Liverpool which he extolled, a lesson for universities in the City of London or the huge historic institutions in Edinburgh and Cambridge.
He was always grounded, a great combination of intellect and practicality. Most of all, it is important to remember his directness, his plain dislike of pomposity and his down-to-earth personality. I do not think you find people who relate to anyone so personally and get such feedback from their warmth unless it is what they experience from the person providing it. That was Prince Philip’s way.
Allow me, if I may, to share one more memory. When President Lula of Brazil made his state visit to the United Kingdom in March 2006, there was the usual carriage parade passing a ceremonial platform in Horse Guards. The welcoming party included Prince Philip, my very good friend Charles Clarke, then the Home Secretary, and me substituting for the ailing Jack Straw on behalf of the FCO. It was bitterly cold, with flurries of icy rain. Charles and I had arrived early and thought we should not wear overcoats, so we left them in the pavilion. Prince Philip arrived really properly dressed, in the warmest coat possible, and asked us, as both of us were shivering uncontrollably, whether we were completely mad. To put it in his words, he said that he thought we were “certifiable”. We all laughed at the absurdity of this, because we were absurd, and he would not let us forget it. Whenever Charles Clarke and I had the honour and the fun of meeting His Royal Highness, he never failed to ask, among many gales of laughter, whether we had recovered yet from the pneumonia and pleurisy we must surely have as a result of our own foolishness.
Fun is not unimportant in leadership, as the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley of Knighton, said. Great leadership—bringing people to and through change, understanding the future, its possibilities and challenges—is so much more effective with humour, energy and straightforward irritation at anything pompous or showy. I respectfully thank him, and I am sure we will all miss him.
My Lords, the life of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, was epitomised by selfless service to the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the enormous number of charities and voluntary organisations that he was associated with. His legacy will endure through the work that he did with these organisations. As we heard, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which he founded, touched the lives of so many young people. He helped to inspire and instil in them confidence and a vision of citizenship.
My enduring memory of His Royal Highness is meeting him on several occasions when I was chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society, of which Her Majesty is the patron. He was always humorous, engaging, informal and forthright—qualities I truly appreciated and admired. He was deeply interested in the work of the Commonwealth and acutely aware of the value of the Commonwealth. As we heard earlier, in 1956 he founded the Duke of Edinburgh’s study conferences, a pioneering forum for bringing together emerging leaders within civil society. This initiative is a true mark of his vision. Along with Lord Luce, I had the privilege of meeting him to talk about the Commonwealth. His insights about the potential of the Commonwealth were thoughtful and inspiring. He understood what humanity can achieve through co-operation and bringing people together.
Now, as chairman of Cumberland Lodge, an educational charity based in Windsor Great Park, I am aware of the impact that he has had as the ranger of the park. Until recently, he was a very visible presence in the park. Characteristically, as a ranger, he saw himself as a temporary custodian for future generations. He took an active role in overseeing many developments during his time in office, including the introduction of red deer into the deer park and the development of several gardens, a visitor centre and the Virginia Water pavilion. I live at the edge of Windsor Great Park and have enjoyed the full benefit of his work, particularly during the pandemic.
Her Majesty the Queen is the patron of Cumberland Lodge, and Prince Philip visited the lodge many times with Her Majesty. His last visit to Cumberland Lodge was when he came to celebrate our 70th anniversary. Both the Queen and Prince Philip especially requested to spend the majority of the time talking with young scholars. His Highness was in his element when in conversation with young people, talking with them about their research and their views. He immediately put them at ease and the scholars were amazed at his keen interest in their views, his friendliness and his informality.
We owe His Royal Highness a great deal of gratitude for his quiet and unassuming service and for his contribution in so many ways, but particularly to the lives of young people. We mourn his passing away and send our heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty and the Royal Family, but we also celebrate the life of an exceptional person who gave selfless service to the country and the Commonwealth. His legacy will endure for generations.
My Lords, there are two of His Royal Highness’s interests and enthusiasms that I want to highlight and in which he will be much missed. As my noble friend Lord Davies of Gower said, His Royal Highness was indeed an experienced and skilled aviator. He was patron of the Air League and had been its president. As a former council member, I witnessed at the annual reception at St James’s Palace the great interest that His Royal Highness took in encouraging young people to take up a career in every aspect of aviation. He supported the award of scholarships and his knowledge and promotion of the aerospace industry generally were widely respected. His inspiration was second to none, and the entire industry will miss his deep understanding of and enthusiasm for it.
Another organisation, the charity in the City of London known as Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse, was one with which the His Royal Highness was closely associated. His Royal Highness more than left his mark as one of three royal governors of this special almshouse. Together with Her Majesty the Queen and the Prince of Wales, he took considerable interest in the institution, its historic legacy, its buildings, its staff and the pensioners who live there, who are known as “brothers” because the site is a former Carthusian priory. Each of the brothers is allocated a governor who is asked to be aware of their welfare. The Duke of Edinburgh was assiduous in that respect and I know his death will be keenly felt by that entire community, as it is by all of us.
I join in expressing my deep sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and the entire Royal Family in their great loss.
What we have heard today has been truly remarkable and deeply moving. I shall briefly mention two aspects of His Royal Highness’s remarkable work that have not so far been emphasised, but before I do so I want to say something of a more general nature about his role.
We are honouring not just an outstanding individual, truly outstanding though he was, but someone who had a very special role within and relationship to the monarchy. I respect republicans—I was once a teenage republican myself, annoying my mother by refusing to stand up for the national anthem, which in those days was played at the end of films—but I underwent a genuine intellectual conversion during my 20s. The difficulty with having a president as Head of State is that because he is elected he can never be totally above politics. Our sovereign can; she can genuinely stand for the nation as a whole, whichever political party a person might belong to. More than that: because she is anointed as Queen by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey, she also stands for the nation before God in a very special way. That is why the constitution of this country is not just parliamentary democracy per se but the Queen in Parliament under God. That is of course reflected in our daily prayers.
That leads me to the two special ways in which His Royal Highness supported the Queen in this role. One was the international interfaith group, which he founded with Prince Hassan of Jordan and Sir Evelyn Rothschild. The difference between that and other groups was not only that it was international, but that it brought together clergy as well as distinguished lay people, ambassadors and senior businesspeople to meet in different parts of the world. They met over a number of years, with the Duke, as a key founder member, always present.
Prince Philip clearly had a keen interest in religion, and I understand that his personal library was absolutely chock-full of books on religions of one kind or another. However, it is his public role to which we pay tribute here, where we know that he wanted to make a difference. He saw that one way of doing that was by helping religious institutions relate better to one another through their senior lay people.
The other contribution that I want to mention is his key role in the founding and ongoing work of St George’s House, Windsor. As is well known, he had a good relationship with successive deans of Windsor, and a very special friendship with Robin Woods, later the Bishop of Worcester. Robin Woods and the Duke founded the house, first as a place for clergy to meet for a long period of reflection and study, then as a place for senior or rising people in the secular world from all professions to come together for shorter periods to reflect on their fundamental values and beliefs and how these should be reflected in the modern world. We should not believe everything that we see and hear on “The Crown”, but there was a particularly good episode about the Duke and St George’s House.
The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury mentioned the Duke’s seriousness about the Christian faith, shown in the sharp questioning which he gave bishops at their weekends in Sandringham, but I remember his willingness to help nervous bishops be at ease. After dinner on the Saturday, when we had all had enough of making conversation of one kind or another, he invited them simply to relax with him, watching a film on a comfy sofa.
Today we honour not only a man who would be distinguished in any walk or life, especially the Royal Navy, his first love, but someone who strengthened the role of the monarchy over a long, rapidly changing period. He was a man who sought to relate that institution to the modern world in a way that made a real difference for good. I remember with particular gratitude his role in relation to religion in general, and the Church of England in particular.
It is a very great honour to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. I see as his most profound impact on the globe internationally the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. I want to share the spirit of the award, which is encapsulated by Shakespeare in “All’s Well That Ends Well”, in the words spoken by the King of France to the brave and pioneering Helena:
“Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all
That happiness and prime can happy call:
Thou this to hazard needs must intimate
These are the qualities that every single entrant to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme is challenged to meet. Today we forget how extraordinary his outline of the scheme, which was difficult to get off the ground, was, because it incorporated everyone through his far sight: the handicapped and all sorts and conditions of young people. It is his true memorial because it is alive and kicking, is going and will never stop. I felt that each individual counted. That was the great sterling mission of the scheme, which has been passed down and is reflected very widely in, for example, the Prince’s Trust, through His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and through Princess Anne’s work with Save the Children.
These are the qualities that he also demanded of his volunteers. As chair of the Friends of the Award scheme, I had to discover those qualities very fast indeed one morning on receiving a call from him. He had just visited a complicated area of Birmingham, and he was very unhappy indeed with the quality of life that he found and the opportunities for young people. So at breakfast time came this instruction; it was not a request, it was actually an order: “Emma, you’ve got to find me £3 million very fast indeed. We’re going to do something for those young people in Birmingham. I cannot leave it like this. I was there yesterday.” So £3 million within a few weeks was the order of the day, and then an enormous scheme was founded in Birmingham, which I believe has been absolutely wonderful.
I quoted Shakespeare. The Duke was himself a Shakespeare scholar. He read books about him. He visited Stratford-upon-Avon to see the Shakespeare Centre five times. His first visit was in June 1957, and his last was in 2011, but I mark out the special visit in 1964 for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth—the quatercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth. He went by himself because Her Majesty had recently given birth to His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward. That was a very important moment. Twenty-five years later, with the formation of the special projects committee, where HRH Prince Edward was in the chair—I was the vice-chair—and at the instigation of Myra, Lady Butter, the international award scheme benefited tremendously, and Prince Edward is now fully involved and incredibly successful. All over the world where one visits, one now hears about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and Prince Edward.
I think that the Duke’s love of Africa never wavered. I first saw him as a small element of his train in 1964 when we visited Malawi to give it independence. Of course the Duke was representing Her Majesty the Queen. I happened to sit fairly opposite him and watched what was happening. Dr Banda, who subsequently became life president of Malawi, was a great speaker. Indeed, he spoke for a very long time indeed, in the burning sun, with one person from every member of the UN at an enormous table in a vast field in the middle of Malawi. After three and half hours, opposite me I saw a movement. Prince Philip and his ADC very quietly, very politely, got up and walked away across the field. Dr Banda went on for another three hours, and the rest of us broiled under the sun.
Perhaps the final words could be his own. I am sure that he would have said, like the dying Duke of York in “Henry V”:
“Dear my Lord,
Commend my service to my sovereign.”
And we might say, like Horatio over the body of Prince Hamlet:
“Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
My Lords, like other noble Lords I extend my sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family and pay tribute to the remarkable life and work of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
We are all familiar with Her Majesty’s own words that Prince Philip was her “strength and stay”, and who could not be amazed by the way he stood for hours on the royal barge in the cold and rain during the jubilee in what must have been difficult personal circumstances; a symbolic act that perhaps showed his dedication, stamina and fortitude to do whatever it took in the difficult and enduring role of consort to the Queen. Sir John Major said in an interview that the role of the monarch can be a lonely position, and the Duke was there as confidant and first line of support. Many of us will also recognise that an ever-present supporting role can have its own bleak moments, but he just got on with it.
The Duke had an inquiring mind and, as several noble Lords have noted, took a keen interest in science and technology. In the early 1950s, he took up the role of president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, for which he penned an impressive inaugural speech. That scientific interest was also shown during the Duke’s first royal visit after his overseas tour when, in 1957, he accompanied the Queen on a visit to the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, where I was brought up. My father was among the leading engineers conducting the Queen and the Duke around the site. At the time, I was a child at the on-site nursery school, lining up to wave a flag as the royal party passed by, and, so the anecdote goes, was patted on the cheek by Her Majesty—but afterwards I remembered more about her amazing red velvet coat, which I tried to touch but which her Majesty adroitly swayed out of my reach.
The anecdotes I was brought up on also tell that, while the Queen was guided around the carefully arranged path of exhibits and official explanations, Prince Philip wandered more widely, asking detailed questions, showing both knowledge and curiosity. My family still has photographs of that occasion; while the Queen is the main focus, there is no mistaking the Duke in the background, in animated conversation with engineers and technicians, or heading off-piste from the tour route. Part of the tour included showing the laboratory’s remote mechanical handling apparatus for manipulating radioactive materials. The party trick of the operator was to open a box of matches, strike a match and light a candle—all quite a tricky operation with the remote handling apparatus—and, of course, the Duke stepped up to have a go, putting his hands in the operator’s metal skeleton gloves. That was in 1957, but I remember that party trick, as well as trying to do it myself when I was a vacation student some 15 years later, and being told, as was still remembered then, that the Duke had done rather well at it.
Like many, I admired the Duke’s recognition of the risk to sustainability in the natural world, long before it was fashionable, and I saw how the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme transformed the confidence, life chances and achievements of several people I knew. He has made a positive difference in many ways to causes, individuals, the country, the Commonwealth and his family. The more we learn, the more we appreciate how much he deserves an honoured place in history and in our memory.
My Lords, it was with profound sorrow that we received the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His was truly an amazing life, in both its longevity and its depth. As a child he was faced with challenges that would have driven many to despair, but he overcame his adversity with a gritty determination and became the most revered gentleman of our nation.
Through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, he enriched the lives of so many millions of young people across the world, giving them hope and real purpose in life, and starting them on a life-changing journey. It also allowed them to explore their potential and instilled in them a confidence that it was possible to achieve even beyond their wildest dreams.
Prince Philip had a genuine ability to treat everyone as an individual, and displayed an interest in the well-being of people irrespective of their background or the position they held in life. I had the privilege and honour of meeting him on several occasions, and his depth of sincerity and good-natured wit always shone through. He was known and loved for his plain speaking, yet he exhibited with it the qualities of strength blended with gentleness. He personified the best of true British character and values, and his unswerving love for and devotion to Her Majesty the Queen—indeed to his whole family—was exemplary.
He lived a life of service and dedication to our nation, having served with distinction in the Second World War. As we have heard from so many today, he was the longest-serving consort in British history—a position he carried with great dignity, rightly earning him the respect of so many across the world. He was also known to be Her Majesty’s constant strength and guide. His fortitude and wise counsel, especially in the midst of difficult times, has surely had a profound impact upon us all.
On behalf of the people of Northern Ireland, I acknowledge our great debt of gratitude to Prince Philip for his encouragement and timely visits to the Province, especially during some of the darkest days of our Troubles. The warmth of his personality and his off-the-cuff remarks often brought a smile to many, even when their hearts were carrying a heavy burden.
Prince Philip has been taken from us, but he has left a legacy that will inspire not only this generation but, I believe, those who follow after us. Like so many across the nation, I was looking forward to celebrating his 100th birthday. But he, and we all, must bow to the sovereign will of almighty God, who holds our days in His hand. Throughout Prince Philip’s long and remarkable life of public service, he devoted himself to many worthy causes, and I know that they shall continue to flourish as a testimony to his cherished memory. The energy and enthusiasm he showed in the exercise of his duty, even in his latter years, was absolutely outstanding.
I join noble Lords across the House in expressing my heartfelt sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and to all the Royal Family at this time of great loss. I know that even death itself cannot destroy the bond of love they hold in their hearts for their cherished loved one. I believe that, with her strong Christian faith in Jesus Christ, Her Majesty can find the Lord to be her stronghold in this time of great sorrow. May God grant Her Majesty His amazing grace, which He has promised to be sufficient for every need, and I humbly pray to that end.
My Lords, I join other noble Lords in extending my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and members of the Royal Family. I would like to pay my tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip by recording his contribution to surgery and the support he provided through his patronage of the medical royal colleges and specialty associations.
His longest association as a patron of a surgical college was with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Receiving his honorary fellowship at its 450th anniversary celebrations in June 1955, Prince Philip said:
“In these days when everything is either raised or reduced to a science, which really means that the human element is removed as much as possible, it is refreshing to find the word ‘craft’ applied to something so august as surgery. But it is certainly the right word, for the surgeon is the craftsman who draws together the laboratory work of the chemist and the physicist, the nutritional expert and the bacteriologist, the biochemist and the psychologist, and, through the skill of his hands, is the person ultimately responsible for the multiplying of human enjoyments and the mitigation of human suffering.”
He went on to say:
“I only hope that those people who, quite rightly, believe that surgery is more than a craft will forgive me, but I look at it, still, from the point of view of the patient. If anyone is going to tinker about with my insides I would rather he were an accomplished craftsman than an experimental scientist.”
That sentiment is still as true and relevant today as it was then; his many surgical procedures, from which he made successful recoveries, are testament to that belief and trust.
Despite his royal status, he was not a man to stand on ceremony, and I was surprised and humbled to see him line up in a queue for a buffet lunch at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes. He brought the same approach to his interaction with young people. I recall attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace, representing the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, of which he was patron for nearly 40 years. My wife and I were accompanied by my son and daughter, both at university at the time and, after a brief greeting and chat, he headed straight past us to our children.
“And what are you studying?”, he said to my son. “Geography”, he replied. “Well,” he said, “you won’t have had any problems finding your way here today then.” His interest in and support for young people from many walks of life, epitomised by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, will, I am sure, become his lasting legacy for the next generation of schoolchildren.
My Lords, on this sombre occasion, I hope I speak for all those who have served in government and in the Parliament in Scotland since 1999 in expressing thanks for the service of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and condolences to Her Majesty the Queen following his death. Prince Philip’s association with Scotland predated his membership of the Royal Family, and those happy schooldays in the Highlands undoubtedly contributed to his love of the natural environment, knowledge and, of course, sports. In the decades that followed, the Duke of Edinburgh was regularly in Scotland, accompanying the Queen, or as chancellor of the University of Edinburgh or as a supporter of many other causes and organisations in his own right. Of course, they enjoyed their annual weeks at Balmoral together and with guests.
In my time in government, I was fortunate to join the Duke of Edinburgh on many occasions, and I retain three powerful memories from those moments. Prince Philip accompanied the Queen on all her official visits to the Scottish Parliament since 1999. From day one, the Queen and Prince Philip were supportive of the new institution and its members, they understood the status of the legislature and they followed closely the work of Ministers and MSPs. The respect shown for the status of the Scottish Parliament and the devolved Government was deeply appreciated, and it helped stabilise our young institution after a bumpy start. The people and representatives of Scotland will forever be grateful for that.
It is fitting that the Duke of Edinburgh awards, helping millions of young people all over the world, are forever associated with the home of the Scottish Enlightenment and all it represents, but the Duke of Edinburgh’s connection with young people went way beyond those awards. He would gravitate towards young people at public and private events, listening to them, learning from them, challenging them and, of course, laughing with them too. It would be a terrific legacy for his lifetime of service if we could renew our commitment not only to those awards but to the future opportunities of young people, wherever they come from in our land and throughout the Commonwealth.
Finally, this weekend, I, with my family, have remembered the man himself: always on duty in public, supporting the Queen and the country, but in private he was the family man, making guests feel at ease at Balmoral and Holyrood, poking fun at his own children and being a memorable host. My former staff all recall moments when His Royal Highness allowed them to relax with a “Come on, then, let’s get started,” or “Come and help me with this,” picking the person out in the room who looked most nervous and putting them at ease. When he discovered that my wife was the daughter of a butcher, one evening at Balmoral, when he famously delivered the barbecue—as the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury told us earlier—they engaged in conversation for hours afterwards about the butcher meat that he liked to choose from the local butchers in the area around Balmoral, and the passion that he had for making sure that everybody enjoyed the best possible cuts on the evening.
We remember today his devotion to duty and to his family. As Covid restrictions lift, the family will return to Balmoral and Scotland—I hope this year—but there will be an empty chair and someone else will be at the barbecue. I hope in that moment they feel the strength of our condolences and depth of our gratitude and know that in Scotland he will never be forgotten.
My Lords, on this mournful and solemn day, it is a privilege to join noble Lords, on behalf of my family and many in my local communities who would also wish to do so, to extend our heartfelt respect, condolences and prayers to Her Majesty our most gracious Queen, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal and their children and grandchildren, for the profound loss of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
This is a personal acknowledgement and salutation. Like the noble Baroness the Leader of the House, I had the honour of being a volunteer. I was at the age of 15 and wanted to improve my English, having just arrived from a war-torn Bangladesh. I worked in two social services homes which cared for our elders and people with severe disabilities. Indeed, this experience with the Duke of Edinburgh scheme may have been God’s way of preparing me for a lifelong responsibility as a mother to a child with autism and disabilities, as well as becoming a professional social worker.
Decades later, I enjoyed the honour of several small exchanges with His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh in the company of Her Majesty, in my capacity as a community worker and later as a Member of the House of Lords at Commonwealth-related events. On one such occasion, being introduced as a Member of the House of Lords, I expressed my thanks for his support of the Commonwealth family of nations. He asked where I had come from and if I had a family, to which I duly replied Bangladesh. I added with pride that I had five children, supported by my husband; I said that mine did not do it as well as His Royal Highness, and we exchanged discreet smiles. He said, “Your country has done well with women’s leadership.”
His Royal Highness Prince Philip has left an indelible gift of mobilising generations of leadership in all communities throughout our nation, as well as having an undoubted influence as a father whose prolific guidance and innovations have so obviously inspired His Royal Highness Prince Charles and Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, to whom many charities I continue to support are also equally indebted.
Today is the eve of our precious month of Ramadan, a month of charitable giving, prayer and contemplation, common values embodied by men and women of all faiths and none. I hope that the House will indulge this very personal expression as a woman of faith in remembering His Royal Highness Prince Philip, a man of faith, through words of my faith and prayers. Inna lillahe wa inna ilayhi raji’un—verily from God we are and to God we return. May the Almighty accept His Royal Highness Prince Philip the husband, the father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and his extraordinary contribution to public service and to Her Majesty the Queen. May we all wish her the very best and may His Royal Highness Prince Philip rest in the eternal gardens of peace.
My Lords, I join all noble Lords in expressing my sadness on the passing of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, who made such an enormous contribution to our nation over so many years. As a former officer of 4th (Volunteer) Battalion, The Royal Green Jackets, I know how much his presence as colonel-in-chief of The Rifles did to ensure the successful merger of the predecessor regiments and the creation of a single identity and spirit drawing on their strengths.
He was immensely knowledgeable about the detail of many strands of our nation’s life. You certainly needed to have your wits about you at all times with him. He had a better understanding of the dynamics of the British countryside than practically any British-born person I have encountered. His leadership of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, as president and then as patron for 57 years, started the initiative to save the grey partridge, which he described as
“our favourite native game-species”.
“If we can solve the problem for the partridges, we shall be conferring enormous benefits on many other like species which are also in trouble.”
As your Lordships are aware, he was a most accomplished sailor. It is less well-known that he was also an accomplished pilot, as mentioned by my noble friend Lord Glenarthur. On one occasion more than 20 years ago when he flew into Islay Airport, I was asked by my father-in-law to drive him from the apron to the quayside at Port Askaig, where he was due to embark in the Royal Barge and join the other members of the Royal Family. I think it was the last voyage of “Britannia” around the Western Isles.
The journey was some 16 miles along the route agreed in advance between Strathclyde Police and the Royal Household. Across the peatlands to the north of the airport, we observed cutting in progress and Prince Philip revealed his knowledge of the detail of the process and science of distilling whisky, asking many penetrating questions about the differences between the various iconic Islay whiskies.
As we moved into higher ground, he asked me many questions about the deer population, including the average weight of an Islay stag, as they are bigger and heavier than their mainland cousins. Filled with shame that I did not have the facts at my fingertips, I asked him if he wanted to see some large stags, pointing out that we would have to change the approved route I had been instructed to drive him along. He said that he would like me to do that, so I slowed down and performed a U-turn to proceed by the high road. I can still see the faces of the shocked police officers in the following car, who did not expect any unauthorised deviation from the approved route. His Royal Highness certainly possessed a rebellious streak and enjoyed both our decision to change the route and the opportunity to observe some very fine stags during the rest of our slightly extended journey to the quayside at Port Askaig.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, and other noble Lords have observed, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme is an important one of his many creations, for which he will rightly be very long remembered. Indeed, I know from the experience of my own children what an important contribution it made to their broader education. I believe that what it has taught nearly 7 million young people in this country has hugely contributed to the strength of our voluntary sector. Also, if I may say so, it has helped to prepare the British people to make the most of the opportunities offered by global Britain as we embark on this new chapter in our nation’s life. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme continues to grow across the world, even 65 years after its foundation, and is already present or represented in more than 140 countries.
As many noble Lords have noted, it is only now he has gone that so many people realise how vast is the void that Prince Philip leaves in our national life. But, of course, by far the largest void he leaves is that in the life of Her Majesty the Queen. I am honoured to have the opportunity to speak in this debate and, together with so many other noble Lords, to offer my most sincere condolences to Her Majesty and all members of the Royal Family.
My Lords, I first met His Royal Highness 57 years ago. He was chancellor of the University of Edinburgh. I was a student, eight and a half years after leaving school, close to completing my law degree and about to enter training for the legal profession. We were at a dinner being held to mark the 200th anniversary of a society of which I happened to be president, so I was placed beside him. There were many very distinguished people within easy reach, but, as I was on his right, he turned to speak to me first. He then engaged me in a sustained and intense conversation, without interruption, for at least 20 minutes. He asked me about myself, of course, and why it was taking me so long after school and national service to get qualified. He assured me that taking time to do that was no disadvantage and encouraged me to keep going. “It all depends on the chap,” he said. By then, he had put me so much at my ease that I asked him how he was able to sustain such a busy programme. “I try to put in as much as I can when I am away from home”, was his reply. The great hazard was his correspondence. “I dread Saturday mornings,” he said. When I expressed surprise at this, his response was, “I know. No one thinks a prince can write.”
He then turned the conversation to a subject of his choice, the teaching of engineering. He said that it was too academic. I suggested that perhaps it was not academic enough, only to find as we explored this topic further that, of course, he knew far more about the subject than I did. It became obvious that his enthusiasm for the practical side of engineering was genuine and very deep. We ended up by disagreeing only on what the word “academic” really meant. There was no sense of irritation or of his having become in the least bored with me, a mere student, when the time came for him to turn to his other side. That was where that part of our conversation ended, although there were some exchanges later. Before leaving the dinner, however, he remembered what we had been talking about earlier. He took the time to turn back to me, very kindly, and wish me well for the future.
What came over to me during those few privileged moments was a side of his character which so many people to whom he addressed a jest or just a chance word or two during visits or at receptions did not see. I saw it again many years later at a luncheon, from the other side of the table, when he engaged my wife in another sustained and intense conversation, this time about another subject close to his heart, competition carriage driving. He had that wonderful ability to sustain a conversation well beyond the usual pleasantries. He wanted to get to right to the heart of a subject, whatever it was, and to engage with his companions with a genuine interest, a disarming courtesy and a feisty, questioning open mind to reach out to what they really thought about it.
I like to think, as we lament his loss and send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Her Majesty and her family, that it was moments such as these that sustained him in his many rounds of visits away from home. It was that ability which enabled him to make such an immense contribution to the way people, near and far, thought about things that matter. For that gift, for it is a gift, we must all be very grateful. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, put it so well when he asked, in three simple words, “Weren’t we lucky?”
My Lords, I start by offering my humble and sincerest condolences to Her Majesty and the Royal Family on the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. In line with Islamic tradition, indeed, to God we belong and to God we shall return.
Today is both a remembrance and a celebration of a life well lived. Through 73 years of marriage, the UK and the Commonwealth have had the privilege of witnessing public service of the highest standard. Many noble Lords have today given very personal stories of their moments with His Royal Highness. Like them, I will cherish mine, but today I want to put on record two specific contributions. The first is His Royal Highness’s role in enhancing and strengthening the UK-Pakistan relationship, not least through his visits, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and 63 years of patronage of the UK’s Pakistan Society. As Prime Minister Imran Khan said over the weekend,
“Britain has lost a wise elder who was imbued with a unique spirit of public service”.
Pakistan, with the rest of the Commonwealth, mourns him.
The second contribution is His Royal Highness’s role in faith, including its impact on British Muslims and Muslims across the world. As we have heard, His Royal Highness had a keen interest in faith and faiths. The noble and right Reverend Lord, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, detailed much of this work. His vision and convening of the interfaith summit of Assisi in the mid-1980s set the course for much work on tackling climate change. His invitation,
“Come, proud of what you bring of your own, but humble enough to listen”,
reflected his belief that faith had a crucial role to play in the big issues of our time. As Imam Qari Asim, chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, said, His Royal Highness exemplified loyalty, fortitude and altruism, but, above all, service to our nation. In Islamic tradition, there is a saying that the one who does good to others will not fall, but should he fall he will always find something to lean on. Prince Philip has much to lean on as he leaves us.
I end simply by repeating what I have found to be a particularly powerful and timely tribute. Barack Obama said of the Duke of Edinburgh:
“At the Queen’s side or trailing the customary two steps behind, Prince Philip showed the world what it meant to be a supportive husband to a powerful woman. Yet he also found a way to lead without demanding the spotlight—serving in combat in World War II, commanding a frigate in the Royal Navy, and tirelessly touring the world to champion British industry and excellence. Through his extraordinary example, he proved that true partnership has room for both ambition and selflessness—all in service of something greater.”
That is the way I, and many others, will remember him.
My Lords, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was an extraordinary and remarkable man. His support and dedication to the Queen as a husband and consort for over seven decades will not be matched. His presence, calm nature, patience when listening and appetite for a jovial sense of humour will be missed. In one of her speeches, Her Majesty the Queen said about her husband:
“He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”
Listening to the tributes paid by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and his siblings, as well as Andrew Marr’s interviews yesterday with Sir John Major and Joanna Lumley, I believe in every word that Her Majesty the Queen said in her speech about her beloved husband.
The Princess Royal has said that she would like to walk in the footsteps of her father, who always thought of helping others. Through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, he helped more than a million youths in over 100 countries succeed in their lives. I am proud to say that my daughter and two granddaughters are recipients of this award.
I had the good fortune and honour of meeting him at a London First event many years ago. He asked me, “What do you do?”; I replied that I was a businessman but also ran my own charity, which supported widows and their children around the world. Then I mentioned that there are over 258 million widows around the world. His quick and spontaneous response was, “Have you counted them all?” I saw his sense of humour first-hand. I was left with immense pleasure after that discussion and meeting with him. It will always stay with me.
My Lords, it is a unique privilege to be able to say a few words of tribute in respect of the most extraordinary contribution that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh made to public life, not only in this country but throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. Like all other noble Lords, my heartfelt condolences go to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family at this very sad time. The loss of the Duke is immense, and I am not sure that we quite realise what a gap he will leave.
The Duke of Edinburgh touched so many lives in so many ways across the generations. I will concentrate my thoughts today on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, which has given so many young people the opportunity to reach out beyond their comfort zone and widen their horizons. His Royal Highness had the foresight to see how young lives could be enriched by attaining something beyond the scope of academic achievement: practical challenges, learning skills not necessarily taught in the classroom, which would help young people gain confidence and believe in their own abilities. Our young people are our future. The Duke appreciated this and created a vehicle to help them on their way, furnishing them with a conviction in their potential. We owe the Duke an enormous debt of gratitude. May His Royal Highness rest in peace.
My Lords, I am told that I am now among the longest-serving active Members of your Lordships’ House. I therefore take the liberty of offering a very few words following the sad passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
As a junior Whip in the early 1980s, and therefore a Lord-in-Waiting, I had the privilege of meeting His Royal Highness on a number of occasions, as well as later at the Air League along with my noble friend Lord Glenarthur. His Royal Highness will go down in history not only for his role as the husband of our Queen but for his service in the Royal Navy and in many other ways. In recent days, we have heard much about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which has helped so many young people around the world. His sad passing is a terrible loss to the Royal Family but also to our nation and the Commonwealth. I strongly support the Motion for an humble Address.
My Lords, I had the privilege of meeting His Royal Highness Prince Philip on several occasions when he visited Newcastle upon Tyne on official visits. He had a particular attachment to the River Tyne. This originated in the earlier years of the Second World War and the duties he undertook in the Royal Navy as first lieutenant and second-in-command of HMS “Wallace” as it provided escort duties for convoys in the North Sea and protected British ports down the east coast. I recall him talking about this after the opening, by Her Majesty the Queen, of Newcastle’s new city library and the Great North Museum in 2009. He talked about his memories of his first visit to Newcastle and the River Tyne and gave a powerful description of this industrial heart of Britain and how, as the HMS “Wallace” went up the river for maintenance work, he had been impressed by the scale of human creativity and enterprise shown in shipbuilding and ship repairing on the river. He recalled not just the ships but the smoke and the noise, the tugboats, the cross-river traffic and the shipyard workers building, repairing and fitting out the ships on which we depended.
I recall another occasion in 2007, when he attended the rededication of one of Newcastle’s war memorials, “The Response 1914”, designed by Sir William Goscombe John. The city council had taken the lead in its restoration, and we were delighted when Prince Philip agreed to attend the rededication ceremony. During the morning of the service, he met many people, mostly armed services personnel, and, as always, they were put at their ease by his genuine interest in them and the rapport he created with them through shared experiences. That war memorial carries the inscription, “Non sibi sed patriae”—“not for self, but for country”. Prince Philip had a deep attachment to his country. He had a deep sense of the importance of service. He thrived on new ideas. He sought enterprise and personal fulfilment, hence the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and its huge success.
This is a sad occasion, but we shall remember the Duke’s optimism, leadership and achievements as we extend our sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.
My Lords, I offer my deep condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family as they mourn His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, a beloved and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal encapsulated the loss of an older family member so movingly in her statement:
“You know it’s going to happen but you are never really ready.”
There are no words that can lessen the family’s grief, but it is right that we come together today to pay tribute to the Duke, and I offer a short reflection.
Today we have heard about how the Duke of Edinburgh has shaped our nation. The public reaction to his death, and the desire of old and young to pay their respects, comes as no surprise. For most of us, Prince Philip has simply always been there at Her Majesty’s side or a few steps behind. He seemed to embody the values of a generation. One of my earliest memories is of my grandparents, themselves born in the shadow of the First World War, telling me all about the Queen’s and Prince Philip’s many years of public service and devotion to duty. That was about 40 years ago, and little did I imagine that there was a whole lot more to do.
A few years later, as a young undergraduate at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge, I realised that it took a special type of charisma to make the opening of a new college building feel like the event of the summer. But the Duke of Edinburgh managed it, and a very jolly evening was had by all. It has been so uplifting to hear again from so many about the Duke’s genuine affinity with young people, through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme in particular. The Duke’s belief in every young person’s potential, and his determination to find new ways to unlock it, is a major part of his legacy. He helped people to believe in themselves.
We know that in his interests and ideas the Duke was often ahead of his time and challenging. But his life’s work was underpinned by values that are timeless: duty to one’s country, a devotion to family life and serving others rather than seeking personal glory. I join your Lordships in mourning his passing and give thanks for a life so well lived.
My Lords, the Duke of Edinburgh was a trail-blazer, well ahead of his time in so many ways.
Long before it was fashionable to be an environmentalist, he helped to establish the WWF—the World Wide Fund for Nature—60 years ago. I have been associated with the WWF for several years, and I know that the international conservation community mourns his loss.
Long before global awards and competitions existed, Prince Philip established the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Growing up in Pakistan, I met young men and women from the most remote parts of the country who had one thing in common: the award programme had changed their lives in some way. Globally, there is still no other award scheme that reaches so many young people.
Long before it was popular to support one’s wife in her career, the Duke of Edinburgh showed us how it is done. He set the bar extremely high.
This week, Muslims start the holy month of Ramadan. It is a period of reflection and prayer. I will reflect on the importance of service to others, in which the Duke of Edinburgh’s life has been a masterclass from which we all can learn so much.
His Royal Highness was a champion of interfaith dialogue, as the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury knows better than anyone else. All faiths recognise his leadership and contributions.
I join noble Lords in offering my deepest condolences. We will pray for Her Majesty the Queen, members of the Royal Family and our country during this time of loss.
My Lords, on behalf of myself and my noble friend Lady Bennett, I send our sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. It is very hard ever to get over the loss of a loved one, especially someone with such a big personality.
I met the Prince only once. I was in the line-up of assembly members at the opening of City Hall in 2002 when he inadvertently gave me some advice that made me a better politician. I say “inadvertently” because I think he was actually complaining to me, but I took it as a positive statement. When he heard that I was from the Green Party, he first gave me his own green credentials, as the founder of the World Wide Fund for Nature and so on. He then said, “You know the problem with you Greens?”—and I think he actually wagged his finger—“You never give anyone else any credit.” I said, “You’re absolutely right. Greens want such giant strides in policy and, of course, it is hard to accept baby steps.” Since then, I have tried to be kinder about such baby steps and kinder to the Government.
A big debt is owed to Prince Philip and that whole generation of environmentalists of which he was a part and which he promoted through his work. The conservation of nature was important in the 1960s and is obviously even more important today. In the past 60 years, our understanding of conservation has evolved. We have learned that, in order to conserve a species, you must conserve its habitat, including those habitats that are threatened both at home and abroad by manmade climate change and the powerful vested interests of greed and profit. Prince Philip was one of the pioneers who started to highlight the links between people and planet. Many have built on that understanding of our global environment; I am very happy to give him credit for it.
But I cannot speak about one death, however momentous, without speaking of the 127,087 other deaths over the past year due to coronavirus. Many of those deaths will have been premature, with people of all ages dying before their time and leaving many more people—hundreds of thousands of them—grieving. Sisters, brothers, children, mothers, fathers—it has been an incredibly hard year. We all hope that the worst is over.
I call the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh. We cannot reach the noble Lord, so I call the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering.
I add my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and all the Royal Family on their loss. Today, it is a privilege to recognise and pay tribute to the lifelong service that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh gave to Her Majesty the Queen, the Crown, the country and the Commonwealth. He was a Prince of Denmark and one-time holder of a Danish passport. He was the most exemplary role model as liegeman and the most faithful follower of Her Majesty the Queen.
His Royal Highness was an early influence in my life, as chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, and even before that with his interest in the environment, expressing genuine passion and concern for wildlife and the environment long before it was fashionable to do so. He was the founder of the World Wildlife Fund and its first president. He made a huge contribution to running Her Majesty’s private estates at Sandringham and Balmoral, as well as Windsor Great Park and Home Park. His interest in the environment, wildlife and climate change was well ahead of its time. In 1970, the World Wildlife Fund established its highest conservation award in his name, the Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Award, to recognise and encourage significant achievement in the global environmental field. David Bellamy was another great influence where I grew up in Teesdale as a botanist and environmentalist, in particular in trying to protect the blue gentians. How fitting that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh organised the David Bellamy inaugural lecture in 2013 at Buckingham Palace.
His Royal Highness The Prince Philip firmly held a belief in safeguarding the planet and its resources for future generations. It is a belief we should all seek to emulate in his memory. May he rest in peace and, in the words of the Danish prayer, “Guds engel ham bevar”—may God’s angels protect him.
My Lords, it is a great privilege to speak today in recognition of the enormous contribution to our country made by His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and in so doing to offer sincere and heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and all his family. For our modern times, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness have represented stability, perseverance, family values and a deep commitment to a strong moral compass, in touch with the reality that has been the lives of others, even though they were living so differently from the rest.
In Wales, His Royal Highness’s actions in 1966 at the time of the Aberfan disaster are etched into the hearts of those who still grieve for the children who died, and who saw that he recognised the overwhelming tragedy that had struck, in particular for those parents—their sentence to live with to their dying day.
When I had the privilege of being seated next to His Royal Highness at lunch, there was nothing superficial or trivial about our conversation. He quizzed me about end-of-life care and pain control, recounting some deaths he knew of personally. It was a conversation that came about because of my work. It was an honour to be invited to the British embassy in Paris for the centenary of the entente cordiale celebrations with the director of the cancer centre Centre François Baclesse in Caen, who was establishing palliative care services in Normandy with education courses. When he was introduced to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness, Professor Heron was overwhelmingly impressed that, despite a day that had been packed with engagements, His Royal Highness showed knowledge of and interest in the new technology developments and computerisation innovations being spearheaded across France. Professor Heron called me this weekend with fond memories of how important His Royal Highness’s enthusiasm and humour were, treasuring mementos of that day. Those cordial links between Normandy and Wales have endured.
Today, in expressing thanks for an amazing life lived to the full and for the service given to the nation over decades by His Royal Highness, we are able to express to Her Majesty and all his family how aware we all are of that deep loss and gnawing emptiness of grief at the finality of life’s close. To them all, our deepest condolences are sincerely offered.
My Lords, I have heard every word of this debate—that is the penalty of being number 79—but it has been an extraordinarily instructive afternoon and, I think, a very moving one. We have heard some very remarkable speeches. All of us taking part in this debate are privileged to be able to pay tribute to a man I consider to be a very great man, whose influence will not diminish but will grow in succeeding years.
He is certainly the longest-serving consort but, in many ways, he is the most remarkable consort in our history, and he has touched so many lives. He has been something of a polymath. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, said a moment or two ago that he had a moral compass. I have often said in your Lordships’ House that one of the great losses of the second half of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century has been the loss of our moral compass. But here was a man who, throughout his life, sought to hold fast to those things which are good and to
“render to no man evil for evil”,
quoting the prayer book of which he was a devotee.
The whole debate has been suffused by an atmosphere of love, and I hope that Her Majesty the Queen—to whom we have all, of course, offered our sincerest condolences—will derive some comfort from the fact that the feeling of affection for her and her late husband and the feeling of deep admiration have been palpable. We have had many speeches from members of all political parties and none, and there has been not a word of criticism but a total unanimity of appreciation. I am grateful, as I am sure other noble Lords are, to those who control these things for ensuring that this day was devoted to the proper commemoration of a very great man.
Many of us have talked about personal memories. I first remember Prince Philip when he came to Grimsby when I was a young boy of eight taken by my mother with a flag to stand at the side of the road and wave as he went by. Some 55 years later, when the Queen celebrated her Golden Jubilee, we had a special CPA conference in Lancaster House. As treasurer of the CPA, it was my duty to take Prince Philip around to meet the parliamentarians who had come from all over the Commonwealth. There was not a single country to which he had not gone. As we walked together, he had some wonderful anecdotes about some of those countries, many of which I would not think it appropriate to divert your Lordships with. But I remember that he had around him a thoroughly entranced group of young parliamentarians from Malta, for which, of course, he had a deep and abiding affection. He was actually teaching them some Maltese history. It was quite remarkable. When I saw him on subsequent occasions, he often referred to it.
In 2005, I had a slightly difficult year because, very tragically, one of my opponents in the general election died. My general election was delayed by seven weeks. During that period, I attended a reception in aid of the “Cutty Sark”, one of Prince Philip’s great causes, at Buckingham Palace. He came over to me and expressed great sympathy for the fact that I had not yet had my general election. When I hosted him just a few months later at a lunch at the Athenaeum, where we were welcoming a new portrait which we had commissioned, he said, “Well, you made it. You made it, and I am very glad you did”, and we had a good talk. But the great thing I remember about that lunch was how very kind he was to the young Welsh artist, Graham Jones, who had painted the portrait. He showed a real enthusiasm. Of course, he loved art—he was no mean painter himself—and he talked to Graham at length during the lunch, who I am sure will never forget that day.
He was a truly great man. He held fast to that which is good, and I hope that talk of a memorial in Westminster comes to something. It would be right for him to be permanently commemorated in the Palace of Westminster. If anyone deserves a memorial, he does. He is somebody who has rendered the state some service.
My Lords, I am pleased to follow my noble friend Lord Cormack in paying tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. My noble friend and I share the same interests and, I suspect, may cover similar ground. Like him, I feel that it is a great privilege to be able to take part in this debate and pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.
As a Minister, I was occasionally lucky enough to meet His Royal Highness at the odd reception. I remember, on the two occasions that we managed to have a conversation, that I left each time thinking, “Well, that’s a Daily Mail headline”. I was discreet enough not to say anything to any journalist, but not discreet enough not to turn each of those conversations into a finely honed dinner party anecdote.
It will not surprise your Lordships to learn that I will speak about the Duke of Edinburgh’s contribution to the arts. As has already been mentioned by many noble Lords, he was an enthusiastic and innovative patron of the arts. I too met him at a reception for the “Cutty Sark” and at the National Maritime Museum when he opened the Ofer wing. As noble Lords know, he was an enormous supporter of that museum. I remember, when I first visited in my capacity as a Minister, being shown their visitors’ book recording his first visit in 1947. He was the trustee there from 1948 to 2000, and thereafter a patron.
I am indebted to my friend Robert Hardman’s excellent book Our Queen for a much more comprehensive insight into the Duke’s artistic passion. Forgive me if I briefly read out something that sounds a bit like a shopping list; it is no reflection on Mr Hardman’s prose. According to him, the Duke assembled more than 2,000 works of art while he was married to Her Majesty, and 13,000 books, which occupied, floor to ceiling, two rooms of Buckingham Palace. As has been said many times during this debate, he was an accomplished artist himself and supported others. He not only commissioned the artist Edward Seago to paint the Queen, but later secretly bought the preliminary sketch for that painting from Christie’s and hung both in his study.
However, he was not a conventional collector. For example, he was an assiduous patron of young contemporary Scottish artists, and transformed the walls of Holyroodhouse with modern Scottish contemporary art. He supported Australian artists and was one of the first to purchase aboriginal art. He purchased works by Sidney Nolan, Barbara Hepworth and Mary Fedden, and the craft of Lucie Rie. All were acquired by the Duke, as well as a collection of political cartoons, which no doubt feature many Members of your Lordships’ House. He was a patron and supporter of the world of design. He designed and commissioned a bracelet for the Queen on her coronation in 1952 but, perhaps as a wider shared legacy, he established the Prince Philip Designers Prize in 1959, under the auspices of the V&A, and chaired the Royal Mint Advisory Committee.
In the same year, 1959, he became the president of BAFTA. I know that many of your Lordships would have been glued to the BAFTA awards last night. It is important that he was the first patron of two merged organisations to represent the film industry, and even more important that he secured the royalties from the documentary film that he commissioned, “Royal Family”, to be donated to BAFTA, which enabled it to move to its present headquarters, where it is now established.
It has been a feature of the coverage of His Royal Highness that he has been seen very quickly as a modernising prince and a modernising consort. His engagement, love, passion and support for the arts epitomise that beautifully. I shall come back to my noble friend Lord Cormack by agreeing with him. As I was on my way here, I was thinking that the obvious comparison with the Duke of Edinburgh is Prince Albert and that we will remember his achievements and still be talking about them in 200 years’ time—not personally, of course.
My Lords, His Royal Highness Prince Philip served our country with a rare mix of wisdom and boundless energy. His contribution was immense, particularly in inspiring the young by promoting initiative and commitment in establishing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. My children and grandchildren have benefited from the challenges and the sense of achievement in gaining a coveted Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. It is a scheme that takes youngsters away from their comfort zone in building resilience, new skills and new friendships.
I first met the Duke when I was visiting Buckingham Palace for some function. He was coming down the stairs as I was going up, and I began to greet him. I had said only couple of words when, to my amazement, he stopped me and with a huge grin said: “Indarjit, ‘Thought for the Day’. You bring us the wise words of Guru Nanak.” I met him on other occasions when he was chairing meetings of the Sacred Literature Trust, which used to meet at Buckingham Palace. He had a deep knowledge of other faiths and captivated us all with his wisdom and wry sense of humour.
You can get a full picture of a person by looking at their interests. The Duke’s included developing fitness and resilience in the young, caring for the environment and, like Her Majesty herself, understanding the common thrust of our different religions, which is something central to Sikh teachings. I join others in the Sikh community in praying for strength for Her Majesty and the Royal Family to bear their sad loss. The passing of Prince Philip is a loss to us all.
My Lords, it is indeed a privilege to speak in your Lordships’ House today. I join noble Lords across the House in offering my sincere and heartfelt condolences and, in my capacity as chairman of the National Conservative Convention, I offer those of the Conservative membership to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family on the death of His Royal Highness.
We have heard that throughout his life the Duke of Edinburgh despised flattery, but it is a fact that he embodied a set of values that are still very obviously widely respected: stoicism, duty, courage, service, self-sacrifice, faith, unselfishness, humour and fortitude, to name just a few. He was entirely consistent throughout his life and, for that and his unstinting support of Her Majesty the Queen, the institution of the monarchy and our country, he deserves our gratitude and admiration. His generation, as described by the American journalist, Tom Brokaw, was the greatest generation. Brokaw wrote that it fought not for fame or recognition but because it was the right thing to do. The Duke was one of many who proved that such an accolade was by no means exclusive to Americans: his life was spent doing the right thing.
Speaking to many people over this weekend has made it clear just how many lives he touched and changed, and it is remarkable but indisputably the case that his 22,000 public duties, from his low-key visits to schools, which included my own when I was about 14, to his award scheme ceremonies to high-flown matters of state provide cherished memories for all those who were there. We will miss His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. May he rest in peace.
My Lords, in contributing to today’s debate on the humble Address, I should like to give voice to the sentiments of the British Indian and wider British Asian community, who share fully in this moment of national loss, and in giving thanks for a life of extraordinary public service.
The many moving tributes paid to Prince Philip have highlighted two recurring themes. The first is his impeccable track record of service and duty in supporting the Queen, representing our nation and promoting the work of countless charities, especially the prolific Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. In the Indian community, these attributes are easily recognisable as seva and dharma, which are among the noblest of virtues for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists—faiths which share a common Vedic heritage. Since Friday, many of these communities in the UK have held their own special prayers in memory of Prince Philip. This reflects not only the affection in which the Prince and Her Majesty are held but the progress we are making towards a more cohesive society, comfortable in expressing both our individuality and our shared values.
The second recurring theme is Prince Philip’s unique wit and wisdom. His wry sense of humour and quips helped break down barriers with those he met during his public duties. Although sometimes viewed as lacking tact or diplomacy, he certainly did not lack authenticity. Whenever I had the honour of interacting with Prince Philip or seeing him at close proximity, I was always struck by the twinkle in his eyes. He had a star quality that could rival that of any Bollywood actor; indeed, his four trips to India, three of them with Her Majesty, drew large crowds as well as, inevitably, the odd controversy.
The pivotal role played by Lord Mountbatten in mentoring Prince Philip doubled up by sensitising him to the complexity and importance of the Indian subcontinent, a region representing the largest of the 53 Commonwealth countries and, collectively, almost 70% of their population. This leads neatly to my final observation. The aspect which many among the British Asian diaspora find most intriguing is the Duke’s personal background as a refugee Prince. He was an outsider, came to this country with very little and was a self-made young man before marrying into the House of Windsor. These are circumstances which many migrant communities can relate to, as indeed they can to the charms and challenges of living in an extended family.
This background may well have explained why Prince Philip was so keen to reach out to other faith communities. His pioneering work on interfaith dialogue—and linking this with topics such as business ethics or protection of the natural environment—is one of his most important legacies. Among many notable interactions are the presentation of the Jain Declaration on Nature in 1990, the visit to BAPS Neasden Temple in 1996 and the trip to the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1997, all of which have been remembered in recent days.
Across the UK and the Commonwealth, we should all be grateful for the Duke of Edinburgh’s long and distinguished life of public service. It is doubtful we will see his like again. As the history of the second Elizabethan age is written, the role of Prince Philip will feature prominently, not only in supporting the monarch and representing his country but in reaching out to every section of society and embracing the wider Commonwealth family of nations.
My Lords, I start by offering my sincere and humble condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and members of the Royal Family. I am moved by the heartfelt and touching contributions remembering the life of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, a transformational human being.
His Royal Highness, like Her Majesty, embodied the Second World War generation’s values of duty, self-sacrifice, and loyalty to Queen and country. His Royal Highness was the linchpin of the monarchy. He served Her Majesty the Queen and our country selflessly for more than seven decades. He was Her Majesty’s constant companion, her closest and most trusted adviser. His broad portfolio of interests spanned scientific and technological research and development, the welfare of young people, education, conservation, the environment, and encouragement and support.
I had the honour of attending His Royal Highness’s 90th birthday celebrations. He shared his fond memories of visiting Pakistan through the years, his love for polo and his delight on receiving three pedigree polo ponies from the Government of Pakistan.
His Royal Highness was associated with close to 1,000 charities across the UK and the Commonwealth. Like many, I also had the good fortune of supporting His Royal Highness’s charitable endeavours. I have been working with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for more than three decades, a charity that His Royal Highness founded for the betterment of the youth. The awards, under his patronage, have been able to transform the lives of over 7 million young individuals across the UK and overseas. He has left an indelible mark on many generations. May God bless him.
My Lords, the connection of the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, has been restored, and I call the noble Lord.
My Lords, I apologise for missing my slot earlier. I would like to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and his strength, drive and tireless commitment to making the world a better place.
As someone who was born and brought up in a colony and who has a connection with a number of Commonwealth countries, I have witnessed the progress in democracy and prosperity that has been made, driven in part by His Royal Highness’s unfailing commitment to co-operation and peace. His continuous devotion to that duty can be seen by the fact that so many leaders and communities across the world have expressed their condolences.
As well as improving the lives of those in the Commonwealth and other countries, His Royal Highness also worked to transform the lives of many young people through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. These awards have affected millions around the world, supporting young people on their path to adulthood and teaching them about service to community. His Royal Highness was associated with 992 charities during his life, which is indeed an admirable achievement, and I am sure his legacy will long continue.
I have previously said in your Lordships’ House that I am a great supporter of the Commonwealth, which encompasses 54 countries and a third of the world’s population. The Commonwealth is very diverse, yet it is a global family that includes many communities and religions that share our values of democracy and the rule of law. It is an enduring symbol of unity that His Royal Highness worked tirelessly to support and grow.
Over the past year in particular we have all felt the importance of working together to tackle the pandemic collectively. His Royal Highness has helped promote understanding and connection between the world’s different communities, to bring us closer together despite our physical distance. The impact of his efforts can be seen by the countless honours and decorations His Royal Highness was awarded for his work across the world, including numerous awards in the Commonwealth realms and from a number of Islamic countries, which were Member First Class of the Order of the Supreme Sun from Afghanistan, Member Special Class of the Order of Muhammad from Morocco, the Order of King Abdulaziz from Saudi Arabia, and the commemorative medal of the anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire, to name a few.
The Duke of Edinburgh was an advocate for interfaith dialogue. He organised many summits to bring religious leaders together to promote world peace and the protection of the environment. For instance, he founded the Alliance of Religions and Conservation in 1995 and later supported FaithInvest, which helps religious groups to invest in line with their values. On behalf of the trustees of the National Muslim War Memorial Trust, I would like to offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen on the passing of her husband.
His Royal Highness served with distinction alongside Muslim servicemen in the eastern and Pacific fleets in 1940 as a midshipman on HMS “Ramillies” and in 1944 as second in command of HMS “Whelp”. His dedication to service, leadership and courage was an inspiration to all servicemen. He will be deeply missed by veterans around the world.
My Lords, what we have heard today and since Friday have been tributes to, and indeed a celebration of, the life of an extraordinary and, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said, unique man. As probably the only speaker today who never met the Duke, this debate has brought him to life for me. It has set out a character, a legend, a teacher and a doer who has influenced the lives of millions more than those who actually met him.
The humble Address speaks of Prince Philip’s selfless UK and international public service, including during the war, his impact on conservation, design, science and technology, and particularly his impact on young people through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, as well as through the lesser known but significant Commonwealth study conferences, which he set up in 1956, and above all as the husband and mainstay of Her Majesty.
Indeed, as Barack Obama noted, his role in supporting her Majesty has been a role model for many, as we have seen how he fortified her in the many demands and challenges she has faced. So we might also reflect on how his role in promoting and safeguarding the monarchy as an institution has helped to bring the country together in peace and stability over seven decades. He has been a vital part of the constitutional architecture that binds us, supporting our democracy and its key players across the four nations of our union and throughout the Commonwealth.
He brought to this role, as we have heard, humour, hard work, energy, dedication and enthusiasm. His love for his own family gave them the space and his children the confidence to play their own part in the country’s future. He saw joy and sadness, drawing on both to advise and guide, seeing strength and potential in people and situations to help bring out the best in myriad situations. We have heard it is said that he did not want any fuss to be made of his passing. That was one request that was never going to be met. But that was of his making, in that he wove his enthusiasms, strengths, interests and wisdom into the lives of more people than he will ever have imagined, and, on behalf of them, we say thank you.
Your Lordships’ House has played its role today, combining reminiscences of personal knowledge of the Duke with testimony of the effect he had on the Navy, on charities, on young people and on the Commonwealth—and beyond, in other countries—in times of rejoicing and times of sadness. The Commons speaks for today’s generations of voters and localities but this House, with its longer memories and vast reach into different professions, sports, businesses, organisations, religions, specialisms and international experience, has painted a wider and deep picture. These fold into the humble Address to be read by his family and by future historians, expressing gratitude for the service he gave and acknowledgement of the legacy he leaves. As the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, said, “Weren’t we lucky?”.
My Lords, when the public think of the Royal Family and of conservation and the environment they perhaps often think, rightly, of Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall. But 60 years ago, in 1961, the Duke of Edinburgh was the person who, with a small group of other enthusiasts, founded WWF or the World Wildlife Fund, as it was known then. Since its foundation that organisation has become one of the biggest, and one of the biggest movers, in international conservation. Although we have an emergency with biodiversity at the moment, I am sure that we have a greatly improved world now compared with what we would have had if that organisation had not existed. He became the first British president of WWF back in 1961, and then its international president during the 1980s. Indeed, he remained president emeritus right the way through to this year.
Later in 2021, we will have the international conference at Kunming in China looking at biodiversity. That emergency in biodiversity will be debated strongly and we hope to find a way forward for it to be successful. I wished to participate in this commemoration of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, because the conference arises from the foundations that he built. I am sure that, through it, we will have a world that is not just better but that biodiversity will survive and that challenge will be met. It is through him being ahead of his time 60 years ago that we can look forward with optimism to that emergency being solved later this year.
My Lords, today I speak not just for myself but on behalf of my family and friends in expressing our deepest condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke of Edinburgh has been a constant presence in our lives and it is hard to countenance his absence from our midst.
I have a very special memory of meeting His Royal Highness back in 2006, when I was invited by Her Majesty the Queen to Buckingham Palace for what was termed an intimate lunch. As well as the seven other invited guests, there were four members of the Royal Household present, including Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh. I had the honour of sitting next to the Duke and to put me at my ease he began the conversation by saying “Ah, so you’re from Scotland. You know we have a house up there?”. Well, we know that the Duke was not referring to a two up, two down. We chatted about the beauty of Scotland, as well as the challenges it faced. The conversation continued for a number of hours over a lengthy lunch, touching on various subjects.
As your Lordships would expect, during that time His Royal Highness made a few provocative remarks with his dry, witty sense of humour. I will not recount them but let us say it was an interesting and fun conversation. Finally, as dessert was served and I reached out to help myself to what was offered, the Duke said in a cautionary tone, “It is rhubarb, you know”. From that I gathered that, unlike me, he was not a fan of rhubarb crumble.
It was an honour and a privilege for me to spend that unforgettable afternoon in the company of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, a truly unique and great individual who led a commendable life of public service to which we can only aspire.
For Scotland, in his name he promoted our nation around the world; through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award he offered young people the chance to lay their stake in society; and in our interconnected world he championed the Commonwealth as a mechanism to look ahead so that together we can face up to shared challenges such as climate, conservation and the environment. For our Queen, and indeed for us all, he played a major part in ensuring that this, the second Elizabethan age, was an unrivalled period of peace, prosperity and advancement for our nation.
His Royal Highness the Duke was unique and a visionary. It reminds me of the words of Allama Iqbal, the “Poet of the East”, who died in April 1938. Just half an hour before his death, he sang out his last quatrain:
“The melodies bygone may come again, Or nevermore!
The zephyr from Hijaz may come again, Or nevermore!
The days of this Faqir are ended now, For evermore!
And yet another seer may come again or not, For evermore!”
Surely it would be appropriate to say that men such as His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, are born but in centuries. With these words, goodbye, Your Royal Highness. Rest in peace. We will miss you, but we will always remember you and the contribution that you made.
My Lords, I would like to pay tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh’s enormous and unstinting support for engineering and for Cambridge University, of which he was chancellor for 35 years. Like his predecessor, Prince Albert, His Royal Highness recognised the vital importance of engineering for the country’s economy and the well-being of our society. It was largely his vision that led to the founding in 1976 of the Fellowship of Engineering, the inaugural meeting taking place in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace. It became the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1992, and since then it has grown from strength to strength. For many years, His Royal Highness was an extremely active and influential senior fellow of the academy, whose premises in Carlton House Terrace are fittingly named Prince Philip House.
I was fortunate to meet Prince Philip on several occasions in connection with engineering. He was a regular visitor to the engineering department at Cambridge from 1952, when he opened the Baker building, until very recently. He hugely enjoyed discussing projects with the students presenting them, asking many probing, often provocative, questions, always with humour and putting the students at ease. Much to the consternation of officials and organisers, the visits invariably ran over time because Prince Philip always wanted to linger, continue the discussions and ask yet more questions. He was very well informed and knew a great deal about many aspects of technology. He was, at heart, an engineer manqué. He simply loved everything about engineering.
His Royal Highness was a long-serving chancellor of Cambridge University, from 1976 to 2011. He would regularly visit the university, always finding time to talk to the students and researchers as well as discussing university business with the vice-chancellor. We all remember his unbounded enthusiasm and enjoyment in conferring honorary degrees at the grand annual ceremonies and his witty, unscripted speeches following those occasions. At an event celebrating 30 years of his chancellorship, the Duke described how he was prevented from attending university by the Second World War, with the result that he began his university career at, in his words, “the wrong end”— becoming a chancellor without ever having been a student. He clearly relished his role as chancellor and always appeared to be enjoying himself, whether conferring honorary degrees, visiting laboratories and libraries, opening new buildings or meeting staff and students.
My wife and I had the privilege of hosting a dinner for His Royal Highness in the master’s lodge at Jesus College. He was excellent company, in his element talking animatedly with academics from a wide range of disciplines, always interested and always probing, sometimes teasing. After breakfast the following morning, he and I went for a brief walk in the college grounds, in which there were various new sculpture exhibits. He was characteristically forthright in his views on some of these, saying he hoped they were temporary.
In recognition of his outstanding and loyal service, Cambridge created two special professorships in his name: the Prince Philip professorship of ecology and evolutionary biology was to mark the 30th year of his chancellorship, reflecting his extensive involvement in conservation and the natural world, and the Prince Philip professorship of technology to mark his 80th birthday, reflecting his lifelong passionate interest in engineering. Most fittingly, to commemorate his eventual retirement as chancellor, after 35 years, the university established the Regius professorship of engineering. The Duke’s lifelong passion for engineering was perfectly encapsulated by his now famous words in an interview by the noble Lord, Lord Browne, for Radio 4’s “Today” programme:
“Everything that wasn’t invented by God was invented by an engineer”.
His Royal Highness will be very fondly remembered for his extraordinary, influential and varied life by so many people, and especially by the engineering profession, for which he did so much. He was greatly admired and will be sorely missed.
My Lords, I apologise that a technical glitch prevented me speaking much earlier today, and I am grateful that the Chamber should allow me to speak. However, I make no apologies for wearing this suit; at a grand reception at Buckingham Palace, His Royal Highness came up to me and looked this suit up and down and asked me what I wore for casual wear.
I speak as chair of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council and the Commonwealth Business Forum, and as a trustee of the Commonwealth Walkway Trust. It has been a privilege in the last few days to share memories with my chief executive, Samantha Cohen, who worked for the Royal Family for 17 years and particularly for His Royal Highness, and Marnie Gaffney, who was his press secretary for two or three years and is our director of communications. Both, it is fair to say, remember His Royal Highness with huge fondness and affection and as having total dedication to his work; they are deeply moved by his death.
I take the opportunity to pass on to Her Majesty the Queen and the family the many condolences that our organisation has received from across the Commonwealth. Messages speak of appreciation for his direct approach, often taken out of context, but much to the relief of Ministers and leaders tired of diplomatic innuendo and nuanced language. They speak of his charm, energy, sense of fun and thirst for knowledge—as has been referred to by other Members of the Lords.
His contribution to the Commonwealth, with that of Her Majesty the Queen, is incredible. When they married and she became the head of the Commonwealth, there were seven countries, which are now 54. In 1956 he founded the Commonwealth Study Conference, held at Oxford, to study human aspects of industrial issues across the Commonwealth. He made endless country visits and attended countless Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings. Fittingly, his last was in Malta, in 2015, where I had the privilege of hearing his reminiscences. To the credit of the Maltese Government, they have purchased the house where His Royal Highness and Her Majesty the Queen first shared their early married life.
It is fair to say that Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness were responsible for the dignified retreat from a colonial Britain, as the country determined that its future was with Europe and, as such, largely turned its back on its old Commonwealth allies. Surely in this post-Brexit Britain the Government owe it to his memory, and to the considerable effort of Her Majesty, to turbocharge their re-engagement with the Commonwealth. Without them, Britain’s relationship with the Commonwealth countries would be in an infinitely worse condition than it is now.
My Lords, the many and varied tributes that we have heard today bear witness to the huge number of lives that Prince Philip touched and the influence that he had on fields as varied as sport, science and our Armed Forces. I hope that these tributes and those from the other place, from the parliaments across this nation and from the Commonwealth sustain Her Majesty and the Royal Family in their time of grief.
I want to end by re-emphasising our huge gratitude for Prince Philip’s exemplary service to our country. I commit our unwavering support to Her Majesty.
Motion agreed nemine dissentiente, and it was ordered that the Address be presented to Her Majesty by the Lord Chamberlain.
House adjourned at 6.57 pm.