I invite the House to rise and observe a minute’s silence in memory of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
The House observed a minute’s silence.
We meet today to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been at the side of Her Majesty the Queen for more than seven decades, giving his unwavering support both as a husband and as a consort.
Described by Her Majesty as “my strength and stay”, for most of us Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has always been there, providing this nation with a reassuring presence. Whether he was attending with such dignity the formal occasions when the Queen attended Parliament for the state opening, or visiting different places within the UK or in an overseas country, his support and loyalty were always clearly displayed. He was the longest serving consort in history and the oldest partner of a serving monarch. He never let the Queen down.
His passing also marks the end of an era. He was one of the last surviving heroes of the second world war, serving as an officer in the Royal Navy with distinction, and was heavily decorated for his bravery and long service. A qualified pilot, he gained his helicopter wings, became admiral of the fleet for over 50 years and helped to design the royal yacht Britannia. He visited troops in Iraq, travelled with the Queen throughout the Commonwealth and overseas territories, and stepped down from official royal duties only at the age of 96.
Outspoken, with a great sense of humour, he was not afraid of talking openly about issues that were close to him. He will be remembered for his loyal devotion to service and his leadership of hundreds of causes close to his heart. Perhaps his finest achievement was the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which has helped millions of young people around the world to achieve their full potential as team members and future leaders in their chosen fields. As a moderniser and public reformer, he promoted the latest in engineering and design. As a pioneer in the World Wildlife Fund, he travelled widely to secure public interest in nature and its protection.
His sporting interests were wide-ranging. As a sailor, he regularly attended Cowes week for the regatta. He was a cricket enthusiast and player. He also took part in horse riding and performed as a top polo player. He was a winner for Britain, too, at carriage driving, which he took up later in life.
In March 2011, the Duke accompanied the Queen to Parliament for the diamond jubilee celebrations. I had the pleasure of introducing him to groups of Members waiting to greet him. I remember his interest in ties that Members were wearing, particularly if they showed a connection with the armed forces. He also had a special ability to put people at ease.
As we reflect on a life well lived, we should not forget the wide-ranging achievements of Prince Philip: the ambassador, serviceman, scientist, artist, naturalist, committee chairman, traveller and loyal supporter of the United Kingdom, the overseas territories and the Commonwealth. But we should always remember him as a family man: a devoted husband, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather. He was, without doubt, the father of the nation. He will surely be missed and impossible to replace.
I beg to move,
That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty expressing the deepest sympathies of this House on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and the heartfelt thanks of this House and this nation for his unfailing dedication to this Country and the Commonwealth exemplified in his distinguished service in the Royal Navy in the Second World War; his commitment to young people in setting up the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a scheme which has touched the lives of millions across the globe; his early, passionate commitment to the environment; and his unstinting support to Your Majesty throughout his life.
It is fitting that on Saturday, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh will be conveyed to his final resting place in a Land Rover which Prince Philip designed himself, with a long wheelbase and capacious rear cabin, because that vehicle’s unique and idiosyncratic silhouette reminds the world that he was above all a practical man, who could take something very traditional, whether a machine or, indeed, a great national institution, and find a way, by his own ingenuity, to improve it, to adapt it for the 20th and 21st centuries.
That gift for innovation was apparent from his earliest career in the Navy. When he served in the second world war, he was mentioned in dispatches for his
“alertness and appreciation of the situation”
during the battle of Cape Matapan, and he played a crucial role in helping to sink two enemy cruisers. But it was later, during the invasion of Sicily, that he was especially remembered by his crewmates for what he did to save their own ship. In a moment of high danger, at night, when HMS Wallace was vulnerable to being blown up by enemy planes, he improvised a floating decoy, complete with fires to make it look like a stricken British vessel, so that the Wallace was able to slip away and the enemy took out the decoy.
He was there at Tokyo bay in 1945, barely 200 yards from the Japanese surrender on the deck of USS Missouri, but he was not content just to watch history through his binoculars. It seemed that he used the lull to get on with repainting the hull of HMS Whelp, and throughout his life—a life that was of necessity wrapped from such a young age in symbol and ceremony—one can see that same instinct to look for what was most useful and most practical and what would take things forward.
He was one of the first people in this country to use a mobile phone. In the 1970s, he was driving an electric taxi on the streets of London—the forerunner of the modern low-carbon fleet—again, a vehicle of his own specifications. He was not content just to be a carriage driver. He played a large part in pioneering and codifying the sport of competitive carriage driving. If it is true that carriage driving is not a mass-participation sport—not yet—he had other novel ideas that touched the lives of millions, and developed their character and confidence, their teamwork and self-reliance.
It was amazing and instructive to listen on Friday to the Cabinet’s tributes to the Duke and to hear how many Ministers were proud to say that they or their children had benefited from taking part in his Duke of Edinburgh Award schemes. I will leave it to the House to speculate on who claimed to have got a gold award, and who a bronze, but I believe that those Ministers spoke for millions around the world and across this country who felt that the Duke had in some way touched their lives—people whose work he supported in the course of an astonishing 22,219 public engagements; people he encouraged and people, yes, whom he amused. It is true that he occasionally drove a coach and horses through the finer points of diplomatic protocol, and he coined a new word—dontopedalogy—for the experience of putting your foot in your mouth. It is also true that, among his more parliamentary expressions, he commented adversely on the French concept of breakfast; he told a British student in Papua New Guinea that he was lucky not to be eaten, and the people of the Cayman Islands that they were descended from pirates; and he said that he would like to go to Russia except that, as he put it,
“the bastards murdered half my family.”
But the world did not hold it against him. On the contrary, they overwhelmingly understood that he was trying to break the ice, to get things moving and to get people laughing and forget their nerves. To this day, there is a community in the Pacific Islands that venerates Prince Philip as a god, or a volcano spirit—a conviction that was actually strengthened when a group came to London to have tea with him in person. When he spoke so feelingly about the problems of overpopulation, humanity’s relentless incursion on the natural world and the consequent destruction of habitat and species, he contrived to be at once politically incorrect and also ahead of his time.
In a quite unparalleled career of advice, encouragement and support, he provided one particular service that I believe we in the House know in our hearts was the very greatest of all. In the constant love he gave to Her Majesty the Queen as her
“liege man of life and limb”,
in the words he spoke at the coronation, he sustained her throughout this extraordinary second Elizabethan age—now the longest reign of any monarch in our history. It was typical of him that, in wooing Her Majesty —famously not short of a jewel or two—he offered jewellery of his own design. He dispensed with the footmen in powdered wigs. He introduced television cameras, and at family picnics in Balmoral, he would barbecue the sausages on a large metal contraption that all Prime Ministers must have goggled at for decades, complete with rotisserie and compartments for the sauces, and that was, once again, a product of his own invention and creation.
Indeed, as an advocate of skills, craft, science and technology, this country has had no royal champion to match him since Prince Albert, and I know that in due course, the House and the country will want to consider a suitable memorial to Prince Philip. It is with that same spirit of innovation that, as co-gerent of the royal family, he shaped and protected the monarchy through all the vicissitudes of the last seven decades and helped to modernise and continually to adapt an institution that is above politics, that incarnates our history and that is indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.
By his tireless, unstinting service to the Queen, the Commonwealth, the armed forces, the environment, millions of young people and not so young people around the world and countless other causes, he gave us and gives us all a model of selflessness and of putting others before ourselves. Though I suspect that he might be embarrassed or even faintly exasperated to receive these tributes, he made this country a better place, and for that he will be remembered with gratitude and with fondness for generations to come.
In supporting the Humble Address, I would like to echo the remarks made by the Prime Minister and, on behalf of my party, to come together today in appreciation of a life well lived, a life of service and of duty, and a life that shaped modern Britain and provided much needed stability to our national story.
My thoughts, first and foremost, are with Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family. Prince Philip was a man of many titles—Duke of Edinburgh, Lord High Admiral, a royal Commander, Baron of Greenwich—but above all he was a much loved father, grandfather and great- grandfather. To Her Majesty the Queen he was not only her beloved husband, but, in her words, her “strength and stay” for seven decades, so it is right that, today, this House and the country come together to pay tribute not just to a man, but to the virtues he personified, and to his ceaseless optimism about the country Britain can be and what the British people can achieve.
The life of Prince Philip was extraordinary, lived in a century on fast-forward and a time that saw world war, a cold war, the fall of empire, 20 Prime Ministers, and the invention of the television, the internet, artificial intelligence and technology so extraordinary it might have seemed to a lesser person as if from another world. Throughout that time, the monarchy has been the one institution in which the faith of the British people has never faltered. As we have seen once again in recent days, the royal family has a connection with the British people that runs as deep today as it did when Philip Mountbatten married the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947. That is not by chance; it reflects the quiet virtues, the discipline and the sacrifices we commemorate today.
My own connection to the Duke of Edinburgh began long before I entered this place. Like millions of other children, I—aged 14—started the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, or the DofE, as we called it. My first activity was to volunteer at a local mental health hospital where, unbeknown to me at the time, my late grandad would later be admitted. My final activity was wandering around Dartmoor in a small team, with a compass and a map in the pouring rain, frantically trying to find our way. Mr Speaker, if that doesn’t prepare you for coming into politics, nothing will.
In recent days, I have been struck by the countless stories of lives turned around by the DofE Award—young people who found their confidence and found their way. This was summed up by a 14-year-old girl who said, on passing her bronze award, that she felt:
“I can do anything now.”
The DofE Award now covers 130 countries and has helped millions of people around the world. It is perhaps the best symbol of the Duke’s global legacy. He was also patron to more than 800 charities and organisations. He was the first president of the World Wildlife Fund. He was the patron of the British Heart Foundation. He was president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and he was chancellor of the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Salford and Wales. He carried out, as has been said, a staggering total of more than 22,000 solo engagements, and countless others alongside Her Majesty the Queen.
The Duke will also be remembered for his unstinting support of our armed forces. It was in Dartmouth in 1940 that he graduated as a naval cadet. As the Prime Minister has described, he went on to a distinguished naval career. Today, the British armed forces mourn one of their greatest champions.
The Duke was a funny, engaging, warm and loving man. He loved to paint. His work has been described, characteristically, as
“totally direct, no hanging about. Strong colours, vigorous brushstrokes.”
He was also a great lover of political cartoons—not something the Prime Minister and I can say often, although I saw a cartoon this weekend that I think captured this moment of national and personal loss perfectly. It depicted Her Majesty dressed in black, looking back at her shadow and seeing the Duke standing there, as ever at her side, attentive and holding her hand.
Britain will not be the same in the Duke’s absence. For most of us, there has never been a time when the Duke of Edinburgh was not present. At every stage of our national story for the last seven decades, he has been there, a symbol of the nation we hope to be at our best, a source of stability, a rock.
Her Majesty once said:
“Grief is the price we pay for love.”
The Duke loved this country and Britain loved him in return. That is why we grieve today. But we must also celebrate him: a life lived in vigorous brushstrokes, like his painting, and we offer up this tribute, “To the Duke of Edinburgh, for a lifetime of public service, the gold award.”
I now call the Father of the House.
Prince Philip would have laughed at the Leader of the Opposition’s jest about finding a compass and comparing that with politics. The Leader of the Opposition, following the Prime Minister’s excellent speech, also spoke about the titles that the Duke of Edinburgh held. One was “the Maharaja of Not Very Much”. That is a translation of a title given to him by Sir Reggie Bennett MP when, at the Thursday Club, Prince Philip volunteered to join the Imperial Poona Yacht Club, to which I will return later.
There have been fair and full tributes in many of our papers. I pay tribute to the journalists, who, from a standing start have managed to go on providing interesting reading. I mention, not as the best but as some of the most recent examples, articles by Alice Thomson and Libby Purves in The Times today.
For those who think that only the House of Commons is having such a sitting, I point out that the House of Lords has had some really good speeches including those by, to mention just a few, Lord Boyce, Lord Alderdice, Lord Janvrin and Lord Dholakia. I hope that what we say here will be of interest to those who pay attention to proceedings in Parliament.
In your House, Mr Speaker, Prince Charles observed to George Thomas, later Lord Tonypandy, that if the Duke of Edinburgh or he never said anything interesting, they were accused of being dull, and if they were not dull, they were accused of being controversial. Each was willing to lead on issues that were not already fashionable or dominant among popular concerns. In 1952, on the death of his father-in-law, Prince Philip became patron of the Industrial Society, which followed on from the Duke of York camps. That then developed No. 3 Carlton House Terrace, for a time called Peter Ranch House, which is now known as Prince Philip House and is the headquarters of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In developing the fellowship of engineers and later the Royal Academy, Prince Philip gave attention and paid tribute to the successful endeavours of many people who should be considered as important as those who studied economics, politics or the classics.
Prince Philip was guest of honour at the Taxi Charity’s 1979 visit to Worthing, and, with Her Majesty the Queen, at Durrington High School in 1999, he met all kinds of members of the community. It is the sort of engagement that matters a lot in each of our constituencies. We remember that they did that in all constituencies, all over the country.
I referred to Reggie Bennett. He is quoted as saying that the Imperial Poona Yacht Club had 25 really excellent sailing members and that Prince Philip was an honorary member, which was a back-handed compliment to one of the best sailors around. In the foreword to the book of the club’s history—I will conclude with this, as it is quite a long quotation—Prince Philip wrote that
“it is true that all the members are serious yachtsmen in the sense that they are rather good at it, but what is equally important is that they all share a keen appreciation of the value of anti-seriousness. If you can bring yourself to read this book from cover to cover, you will be in a position to judge for yourself whether or not life can be significantly improved by not taking it too seriously all the time.”
Let me begin by echoing the warm and thoughtful words of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and, indeed, the Father of the House, who have spoken before me.
Since the news emerged last Friday of Prince Philip’s death, the time has been filled with genuine sorrow right across these islands. For myself and for the people throughout Scotland, our thoughts and prayers remain with the entire royal family, but most especially with Her Majesty the Queen. For most people, the response and the reaction have been very simple and purely human. We collectively grieve for a wife who has lost her husband, a mother who has lost her life partner and her constant companion after a remarkable 73 years of marriage.
In the past few days, across our institutions and across the media, there has been a very public marking and mourning of the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh. These tributes have come from every corner of the world. I am very conscious, though, that the scale of public commemoration does not diminish the depth of private grief. At the very heart of this is a family grieving the loss of a beloved husband, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather—a man who was at the very centre of their family life. As with every death, following the funeral, that loss and absence will be felt all the more. It is right that we seek to remember and respect that loss and the need for private mourning in the days, weeks and months ahead.
When it comes to reflecting on the life of Prince Philip, there is no shortage of material. His was a remarkable life packed full of experience and involvement spanning diverse communities and continents. That life and those experiences were made possible by probably his most defining trait—a devotion to duty.
Already today in this Chamber and across the airwaves for the past few days, there have been great insights into that long life and the period of history in which he had a presence or a part. From military service to the promotion of environmental causes or his patronage of more than 800 organisations, there is a long and lasting legacy on which to reflect. It would be impossible to encapsulate all of it in any remarks so instead I will focus my remarks on the Duke’s deep connection to Scotland. That connection came before and went way beyond a royal title that contained our capital city of Edinburgh. It was a connection that stretched right across his entire life from childhood to old age. As a child, he attended school at Gordonstoun. It was there that he established many of his interests and hobbies that would stay with him. In those early years, he made his mark as an athlete in cricket and in hockey, captaining the school teams and becoming head boy of the school.
The Duke’s love of the sea first found its spark in Scotland, where he frequently went on school trips, sailing around the coast of Scotland. His affection for his time at Gordonstoun is obviously demonstrated by the fact that he sent all his sons there in later years. He also remained a regular visitor—most recently in 2014 to mark Gordonstoun’s 80th anniversary. That link with Scotland and the highlands only grew and deepened after his marriage to Queen Elizabeth. The love they have for Balmoral castle has been evident for years and their presence there is now part of the fabric of that local community. Whether it was his attendance at the Braemar Gathering, a highland tradition that has been ongoing for the best part of 900 years, or his presence at Crathie kirk, Balmoral became an enduring part of their life together. Despite his ailing health, it is very telling that he still made the effort to make his final journey to Balmoral as recently as last August.
For many people, I suspect that the most memorable and impactful legacy that Prince Philip leaves is the scheme that he lent his title to—the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Once again, the Scottish connection with the scheme could not be clearer. It was inspired by the Moray badge, created by Dr Kurt Hahn, the founder of Gordonstoun, with the intention of giving a sense of responsibility. The tasks in the scheme, from volunteering to outdoor expeditions and personal development, have helped community and educational organisations for generations. Since its inception in 1956, it is truly incredible to reflect that more than 6 million people have undertaken the Duke of Edinburgh Award in the UK. However, its reach did not stop there, with more than 130 countries participating in the international award across the globe.
The Duke was a very hands-on patron, and he personally attended the scheme’s award ceremonies, presenting his 500th gold award in 2013 at St James’s Palace. That emphasis and commitment that Prince Philip placed on the value of education was a mainstay of his life. The Duke was appointed chancellor of the University of Edinburgh in 1953, and served in that role for almost 60 years. During that long period, he took a particularly keen interest in scientific development, and was a regular at graduation ceremonies. He only retired in 2010, and I know that the staff and students at the university also valued the role and the time he willingly gave.
It has also been noted in recent days that Prince Philip took a keen interest in Scottish architecture. There are memorable photographs circulating of when the Prince joined the Queen to open the Forth road bridge in 1964. They were the first people to cross the link between the kingdom of Fife and that great city of Edinburgh, and that enduring interest in the Forth crossing was replicated some 50 years later, when he made a private visit to see the construction of the Queensferry crossing. Once again alongside the Queen, they became the first people to cross the new bridge after it officially opened in 2017. I know that political campaigning remains suspended, but I am sure that Members opposite will forgive me for saying that I am pretty sure Prince Philip would have appreciated that the bridge was delivered on time and under budget.
Perhaps people’s most lasting memories of the Duke were of the informality he often brought to very formal occasions. Throughout the years, I think it is fair to say that he was not a man for drizzling honey on his words. That trait equally applied to the advice he gave, and there is one memorable piece of advice he gave on the length of speeches, which I dare say some Members might even think applies to myself. He advised:
“The mind cannot absorb what the backside cannot endure.”
With that timeless piece of advice from the Duke of Edinburgh, I shall bring my remarks to a close. In doing so, though, I again convey the condolences of myself, my party, and people right across Scotland to the Queen and to the entire royal family. By any standard—by any measure—Prince Philip lived a long, energetic and full life. May he now rest in peace.
I join with the Prime Minister and everyone across this House in sending my heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty the Queen on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip. Our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty and the whole royal family.
In recent days, there have been many tributes to Prince Philip: some from those who knew him well, some from those who had barely met him, and some from those who had never met him, but whose lives he had touched. I had the privilege of meeting him and having a number of conversations with him. He was a truly remarkable man; a man of so many talents. We have heard some of them referred to already today: a distinguished naval officer, an inventor, an innovator, a designer, a painter, a sportsman, and so much else.
What always struck me when he spoke, when I was having those conversations with him, was not just the incredible breadth and wide range of interests that he had, but the depth of knowledge that he had about each of those interests. He did not just dip into a subject; he did not pick something up because it was fashionable. He was deeply interested, he cared, and he understood the importance of getting to know the issues that he was involved in. He was indeed a man ahead of his time, particularly in the areas of the environment and conservation, but that was not a passing whim. He deeply loved the natural world; he understood nature; and he was passionate about wanting future generations to be able to enjoy and benefit from the natural world, too.
I remember, on my first visit to Balmoral as Prime Minister, Prince Philip driving me and my husband around the estate and talking to us about it. It was as if he knew every single inch of it. He talked about the ancient Caledonian forest, about the birds, many of which were protected, about the animals and plants on the estate, about the changes he had seen over the years, and about what was needed to ensure that the environment could be protected and enjoyed by future generations. He was indeed a man ahead of his time. He showed his deep knowledge, but he was also an immensely practical person.
He was also a man of high standards. That did indeed come through in his attention to detail in the cooking of the meat at the Balmoral barbecues. But I also remember a black tie event, hosted by the then mayor of the royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, which Prince Philip was coming down from Windsor castle to attend, but probably for no more than half an hour. Now, some people might have said, “You’ll have to take me as you find me, so I’ll just turn up and that will be it,” but he dressed immaculately in black tie. He took the time and trouble because he had high standards, but also because he respected the event and the people attending, and he wanted them to be at their ease.
I remember my last day at Balmoral. My husband and I, as everybody knows, enjoy walking. Prince Philip had very kindly suggested a particular walk, so we were grateful for the suggestion and set off. When we got back to the castle, several hours later, we were told that Prince Philip did indeed enjoy this walk, but normally he drove around it in a car. I am not sure whether it was a test—and, if it was, whether we passed it. On that last visit, when we went to say our farewells, initially we could not find Prince Philip. When I eventually caught up with him, he was watching the cricket. How I would have loved to have stayed and watched the cricket with him.
I am a Berkshire MP, and in Berkshire we feel a particular connection with the royal family. Prince Philip set up the Prince Philip Trust Fund, which provides grants to individuals and causes in the royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, and many of my constituents will have benefited from that trust fund. Among the causes it focuses on are young people, and this is reflected, as others have said, in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. It is one of his particular legacies that he had this passion for enabling young people to find themselves, challenge themselves, broaden their horizons and develop what are, for some, life-changing skills.
Millions across the world have much to be grateful to him for, but perhaps the most important aspect of his life was his absolute commitment to supporting Her Majesty the Queen. It is in no way comparable, but I do know how important it is to have a husband—a partner—who is a source of strength and a rock in times of trouble. As a hugely talented person, Prince Philip could have been enormously successful in his own right, but he put his life to ensuring the success of his wife. It was that willingness to put himself second and to serve, to understand the importance of duty and to exercise it day in, day out, that will be his true lasting legacy, and that should be an inspiration to us all.
All of us here in the UK and across the Commonwealth have so much to be grateful to him for, and we say thank you. He understood the requirements of responsibility, the demands of duty and the sacrifices of service. We will never see his like again. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
We will now hear from the Mother of the House, the right hon. and learned Harriet Harman.
I am grateful for the opportunity to add my tribute to the powerful speeches that have already been made to celebrate the life and role of the Duke of Edinburgh. For more than 70 years, he was at the heart of the royal family, that most historic and traditional of British institutions. Yet, as has been said, in many ways he was ahead of his time.
He was ahead of his time on the environment. This year the UK will host the 26th United Nations climate change conference, amidst the recognition here and globally of its importance. Yet more than five decades ago, he was urging us, with clarity and foresight, to understand how all living creatures on this planet are interdependent. These views were so much ahead of their time that they were met by some with derision.
He was ahead of his time on young people, with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, recognising the interconnection of physical and mental wellbeing as a route for young people to develop to their full potential. One of the many success stories of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is the work that goes on at Westminster House youth club in my constituency of Camberwell and Peckham. It gets more black and minority ethnic young people through the award than almost anywhere else. Many of those young people have had a difficult start in life or have not thrived at school, yet through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award they find a route to self-confidence and success.
The Duke of Edinburgh was ahead of his time as a husband. One of the remarkable things about Prince Philip is that he chose, in his marriage, to put himself second and make his central role in life that of supporting his wife in her role as the Queen. He sought never to eclipse her, only to support her. Way back half way through the last century, that was profoundly counter-cultural. The expectation was that to be a man was to be head of the family, and particularly in the public domain it was the man who would play the leading role, and the wife who would support him. If that—sadly—still remains largely true today, how much more of an iron rule it was 70 years ago. His decision to give up what would have been a glittering career in the Navy, and to make it his duty to support his wife in her role, took him into uncharted territory and left him exposed. For if he was not the head of the family, what did that make him? There was no reassuring recognition that he was no less of a man for what he did in putting the Queen first, and himself second. It takes a remarkable man to be a leader, but an even more remarkable man to support a woman leader, and that is what Prince Philip did.
When we hear the Queen speak, we know that she always weighs her words carefully. What she said at their golden wedding anniversary in 1997 was that Prince Philip had,
“quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”
What a loss it is for her to lose that husband, that partner, her liege man of life and limb. We rightly pay tribute to Prince Philip’s work on the environment, young people, our armed forces, and much else besides. He did his work, but, above all, he enabled the Queen to do hers. For that he deserves our recognition and gratitude. He served this country by serving his Queen.
I am very grateful indeed to have the opportunity to place on the record, on behalf of my constituency, the huge appreciation that we all share for the life and service of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. We also place on the record our condolences to Her Majesty the Queen, and to all the royal family, about which much has already been said. The bottom line is that we are talking about a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, and most of all, a devoted husband.
It is inevitable on these occasions that there will be a degree of repetition, but I wish to return to the award scheme to which the Duke of Edinburgh gave his name. At the weekend I spoke with David Walker who, for 30 years, was chairman of the Thanet award scheme. He received his gold award in 1966 at Holyrood from the Duke of Edinburgh. I also spoke with Stephen Dyke from east Kent. Stephen received his gold award this year by post—inevitably, because of the circumstances we face. I said to Stephen, “Weren’t you disappointed?”, and he said, “No. It didn’t matter who gave it to me; what mattered was the achievement and the fact that I won the award.”
David and Stephen, generations apart, echo the thoughts and sentiments of so many of my young constituents and those represented by colleagues in the House, who have been through the bronze, silver and gold awards. To a man and a woman, they all say, “It has changed my life.” As Stephen said to me, “There is nothing—nothing—that I feel I cannot now achieve.” We in this House owe it to the memory of the Duke of Edinburgh, who gave his name to the scheme, to ensure that it is not allowed to wither on the vine but goes forward, prospers and moves from strength to strength.
It has already been said that the Duke of Edinburgh was way ahead of his time in his concern for wildlife and habitat, and that is absolutely true. Many of us on both sides of the House take a keen interest in those issues now; I only wish we had all been listening to him 50 years ago, because we might not be where we are.
Mr Speaker, you mentioned in your opening remarks the Duke’s interest in ties. My wife reminded me at the weekend that when I was introduced to him, his only comment was, “That’s a very loud tie.” Colleagues who know the tie of the Wooden Spoon Society will understand that he was absolutely right.
I would like to place on record the thanks of the armed forces parliamentary scheme for the very considerable interest that Prince Philip took in its work. You will remember, Mr Speaker, that it was not so very long ago that he found the time to make presentations in your state apartments to graduates of the scheme. With typically robust language, he reminded us that provision for the future defence of the realm lies in our hands.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that he hoped we would think of a fitting commemoration of the Duke’s life. I can think of no finer tribute than naming the new royal yacht The Duke of Edinburgh.
Princess Anne said yesterday:
“You know it is going to happen but you are never really ready.”
That is a truth shared by so many grieving families. Most people know that their loved one is near the end of their life because they are old or very sick, but that does not mean that they can avoid the tidal wave of grief—that moment of finality. This year more than most so many families have faced that moment, so I am sure that the Princess Royal speaks for not just the Queen and the royal family but the whole country: you are never really ready.
However, as people grieve, we can also say thank you— thank you to one of Britain’s greatest public servants of the last 100 years. As other party leaders have said, Prince Philip has been a rock in the life of our nation since his betrothal to our Queen, then the young Princess Elizabeth. Above all, he has always been her rock. After 73 years of marriage, it will be our Queen who feels this loss far more than anyone else. If anyone says that bereavement is easier when a loved one has lived a long life, I have to say that that is not my experience. So, ma’am, our hearts go out to you.
Thankfully, there are so many wonderful memories to comfort the Queen and the nation. We have already heard about many of the Duke’s contributions to our public life. I would mention his role as president of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, for nearly 59 years. It was there that he helped to lead the major wave of British and global environmentalism and conservation, and where his commitment to British industry and design was so remarkable. As the Prime Minister said, it is fitting that his coffin will be carried in a specially adapted Land Rover that he himself designed.
I spoke to the Prince briefly on two occasions many years ago, once when he came to my school and once when I went to his palace at Saint James’s, as one of the millions of young people lucky enough to have taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. To be at the palace that day, I had hiked round Kinder Scout, camped in Snowdonia and got lost in the Cheviots. For the gold award, among much else, one has to learn a new skill. When the Duke came to my group, he asked us what new skill we had learnt. I told him proudly that I had learnt to drive. So the Duke asked, “With four or six horses?” He pretended to be surprised when I said, “No, Sir, a car.”
I have spoken to several people in preparing my words today. Lady Ashdown, Jane, kindly shared her late, great husband’s experience of the Duke. As a former royal marine, Paddy bonded well with the longest ever serving captain general of the Royal Marines. The Duke said that no other politician had ever laid a wreath on Remembrance Sunday as well as Paddy did, with his royal marine heel-click. Paddy also wrote in his memoirs about a state banquet for the King of Malaysia. After dinner, the Duke was touring the room and came to speak to Paddy. Well briefed as always, he asked Paddy why he had learnt Malay. Paddy writes: “I told him I’d been in the Commando Brigade in Singapore as a bachelor and had discovered that in Malay
“there was one word...which meant ‘Let’s take off our clothes and tell dirty stories’”,
So how could I resist learning Malay? The Duke roared with laughter and followed up with some pretty salty jokes, including a very fruity one about wanting a pee in China. Much giggling.”
A state banquet also features in an anecdote from the former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. He recalls how he went to a state banquet for the Spanish King, not in his own right but as the husband of Miriam González Durántez. At the reception, Nick explained to the Duke that was merely accompanying Miriam. The Duke replied: “I know the feeling.”
There can be no doubt, for the Queen has said it herself, that the Duke was far more than a companion. He was a man who should be celebrated in his own right—for his courage, so evident in his war record; for his foresight, so marvellous in the championing of young people across the world; and for his determination to show real leadership on the environment. He was not, as he described himself,
“a discredited Balkan prince of no particular merit or distinction”;
he was special—a man who brought all his amazing European ancestry to the service of our country. Britain’s special monarchy has been made more special thanks to Prince Philip. As we thank him for his unique service, let us thank him above all for the wisdom, counsel, friendship and love he gave to our Queen.
I rise to extend my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen on the death of her liege man of life and limb, who was her husband, a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and a remarkable man.
He was talented in his own right, as we have heard and read so much in the last few days, at many things that I suspect many of us had no idea he did. I try to paint, and I understand what it is to be described as adequate, but I have to tell anyone who does not paint yet that they have something to discover—that even getting the right colours in the right place at the right time is, as far I am concerned, brilliant. We have discovered that he had all these elements and talents, and did so many things, and was not just innovative, designing his own machinery, but just had that intelligence, drive and leadership. From the armed forces, through hundreds of charities and so many thousands of public events, the Duke of Edinburgh added much distinction throughout. He brought distinction to all that he did, even if it was telling business leaders to pull their fingers out, saying it was quite clear the UK needed business leaders who actually led and actually produced something people wanted to buy. He was quick to spot that was missing—it was not about the people working in the businesses, but about the people not leading them properly—and that was considered quite outrageous.
The thing that has struck me has been the huge fondness—the outpourings of fondness––that have come in the last few days. I did not expect quite that level of fondness, because I thought by now many of the new generations would not recognise or even understand some of the things the Duke of Edinburgh had done, but their fondness and their sense of who he was is quite interesting.
I would like to reflect on the fact that in a way there is something else the Duke of Edinburgh represents: he represents the passing, finally, of the greatest generation. That generation was prepared to sacrifice everything—everything—so that the rest of us could live in peace and prosperity. They did not ask any questions and what defined them so much, and I think defined him in a way, was this sense of duty and an obliging sense of service no matter what the request or command. They were uncomplaining or, as the Duke of Edinburgh would say, they never bellyached. They were always understated and never complained. With those of my father’s generation, we could hardly ever hear them say a word about what they went through; they just shrugged. They never complained about their illnesses or their war wounds, but just got on with life. He was very much a representative of that remarkable—remarkable—generation, as is of course Her Majesty the Queen.
The one area I wanted to remark on is that that generation had this incredible sense of humour in the most difficult and appalling times. I hope my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health does not mind if I relate one particular story so typical of His Royal Highness. We were in the receiving line for civil service awards, and I was standing but one or two away from my right hon. Friend when the Duke of Edinburgh arrived. Her Majesty the Queen went through very calmly and quietly: she shook everyone’s hand, said a few words to them and moved on. He came through just behind her, and as he was getting to my right hon. Friend asking people what they did, he asked him, “What do you do?” He boldly announced—this was some years ago—that he had just been put in charge of nuclear submarines. “But,” he said, smiling, “I don’t know anything at all about them, Your Royal Highness”, whereupon he guffawed immediately and said, “How typical! Typical of politicians—in charge of something, and not a single clue about it.” He roared with laughter and walked on, with everybody else in complete and utter silence. He asked me what I did, and I said, “Sir, nothing that important”, which had the merit of being true, and he moved on.
I have to say that the Duke of Edinburgh was straight and very funny, and that is a key element of this. In this generation, I wonder what he thought about social media, where everybody complains or bellyaches the whole time about everything and about each other, often rudely and arrogantly—something that he and that generation would I think have considered appalling. “If you have nothing good to say about someone,” the old rule was, “then don’t say it.” Of course, this will fly over our heads here, I suspect, quite happily.
I end by simply saying that the one thing we must all remember is that here was a man with a glittering potential career who chose, because of love, to walk a pace behind the woman he loved and to serve her, and by serving her he served his country with distinction. Nothing else needed to be said. His departure is a loss for us all, but in relation to the fact that we have such a great monarch, the reality is that it is because we had a great man beside her, and for that I give thanks.
We have heard a series of fulsome tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh this afternoon, and much has already been said about his extraordinary life and contribution to this country. As somebody who had the honour of serving as Lord Chancellor and then Lord President of the Council over a four-year period, I particularly wanted to say a few words on this very sad occasion. In particular, I wanted to convey my deep condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the whole of the royal family.
Listening to the debate this afternoon, few would disagree that the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been the most distinguished in the history of the monarchy in this country. She is not just a much loved figurehead for our nation; she is respected around the world and continues to be a remarkable figure as Head of State to this country and many others around the Commonwealth, and as head of the Commonwealth. But it is absolutely not, in my view, an exaggeration to say that she could not have done everything she has without the tireless support of the Duke of Edinburgh through the nearly 70 years of her reign. Through all those years, he has been at her side and has helped her give the country the leadership that has been so valuable to us all.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) said, that duty came with personal sacrifice. The Duke of Edinburgh was a very distinguished defender of this country in the second world war and did some extraordinary things during that conflict, but then he gave up a promising career and the potential for high rank—possibly the highest rank—in the Navy to follow the Queen in her role both here and abroad. He did so with a sense of service to this country that few could match.
That sense of duty ran well after most people had long retired. I remember the Duke of Edinburgh taking the time to visit my constituency to open a new building when he was in his 80s. As he strode around the building—and he did stride around the building—I remember remarking to his equerry how impressive and extraordinary it was that he was still doing so much for the country at that age. “He is a lesson to us all,” was the reply, and indeed he was. That visit was nearly 20 years ago, and for most of the years since then, he just carried on with the same work he had been doing for most of his lifetime, retiring only at the age of 96. I do not suppose that many of us will be able to match that.
Away from public duties, the Duke of Edinburgh was a charming and engaging man. I remember, as a Cabinet Minister, attending a dinner at one of the livery companies as its guest for the evening, and being a little surprised to find the Duke around the table as well, clearly outranking me. It turned out that he was not a guest at all but one of the members and a regular attender of the dinners there. He was lively and great company as well—not, of course, to mention that well-known and sharpest of wits.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have been a national team for the United Kingdom for as long as I can remember, and it is going to be very strange without him. This is a very sad time for our country. We have lost somebody who has been a central part of our national life for most of our lifetimes, but for the royal family this is much more. They have lost a husband, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather. My simple, final message today is to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. What I want to say is this, and I imagine it is on behalf of all of us in this House. We all feel deep sorrow about your loss. We are all thinking of you, and we are all sending you our best wishes on this sad occasion for our whole country.
On behalf of the Democratic Unionist party and the people in Northern Ireland we have the privilege to represent, I convey our sincere sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and the entire royal family on the sad passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, a devoted husband and a much loved father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and indeed a father figure for our nation. We uphold them all at this time in our prayers.
During his lifetime, the Prince made more than 50 visits to Northern Ireland, and on many of those occasions, he stayed at Hillsborough castle in my constituency, which is the home of the royal family in our part of the United Kingdom. The royal family is always welcome in Hillsborough. The people of the village, and their neighbours throughout the Lagan Valley constituency, share in our sense of loss at this time. Prince Philip was very fond of Hillsborough, and especially the beautiful gardens of Hillsborough castle. His memory will live long within our local community and among those who had the privilege to meet him.
Ulster people prefer plain speaking, and in Prince Philip they found a man who was reassuring in his honesty and in his passion for ensuring that our young people, in particular, had the best opportunity to enjoy a meaningful and purposeful life. He recognised that when we invest in young people, we invest in the future. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme has been referred to by the Prime Minister and by many colleagues across the House. In Northern Ireland, young people from right across the community—from all parts of that community —took part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, and I know that he took great pride in the fact that the young people in that scheme in Northern Ireland came from all kinds of backgrounds.
In the last year alone, more than 6,000 young people in Northern Ireland have started their programme in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, and more than 3,000 have completed their awards. Many young lives have been shaped and influenced by that scheme, and by the attributes that the Duke inculcated into the scheme. Young people in Northern Ireland are the leaders of the future, and we thank His Royal Highness for his investment in their future.
We also salute the Duke’s service to our country––his service with and support for our armed forces. He served with courage and distinction, and he was an inspiration to many, not least our veterans, with whom he identified so closely.
In her annual message, Her Majesty the Queen refers often to the importance of her Christian faith in dealing with the challenges that we all face in life. Losing a loved one is one of the greatest challenges. It is our prayer that in these days of mourning and in the times ahead, Her Majesty, and, indeed, the royal family as a whole, will be able to draw upon this deep well of faith, and that it will bring comfort and sustain them, especially Her Majesty. As she continues her journey of service to this nation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and to the Commonwealth of nations and the overseas territories, she will do so without the support of her much loved companion, Prince Philip. As a nation, we will miss him. In Northern Ireland, we salute his memory.
As we meet to pay our respects to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty the Queen and her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who are experiencing such a profound of from one of the twin pillars of their family’s life. But it is a loss for all of us as well. The Duke of York put it well over the weekend when he said:
“We have lost the grandfather of the nation.”
My brother said to me over the weekend, “I will miss Prince Philip a lot. I have grown up with him. He has always been the quiet, strong presence at the Queen’s side,” and I think that feeling is very widely shared.
Although Prince Philip was born into a life of privilege and later lived such a life, we must remember that he arrived on our shores as a homeless refugee. In the proud tradition of these islands, we gave him welcome, and he repaid that welcome a thousand times over with a life of unstinting service to our country, the Commonwealth and the world. He was a man of many interests, but he will be remembered principally for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. I noted the comments of one young man last Friday, who said that had it not been for the award scheme, he suspected he would have ended up in prison. Like so many families, my own children benefited from the scheme, which I am sure will continue to go from strength to strength—a living memorial to Prince Philip.
His other great interest of conservation and the environment fitted so well with his service to young people. It is of course young people who will reap the benefits of a planet and creation that is well cared for, and it is they who will feel most keenly its loss. The Duke was way ahead of his time in realising the profound danger of climate change and biodiversity loss.
In terms of being a role model, he showed how men can serve women while being men in their own right. Never have such role models been needed more, as we continue to learn of unacceptable behaviour by men towards women.
In 2017, he visited my constituency with the Queen to open the elephant care centre at Whipsnade zoo, and then to open the Priory View independent living scheme in Dunstable. Councillor Carole Hegley, portfolio holder for adult social care in Central Bedfordshire Council, showed him round and said of him:
“I saw his warm and friendly manner, his unique humour and the way that he made people feel at ease, talking to many guests as he toured the building”.
At the end of the visit, he received a gift from the oldest resident at Priory View, who was a good few years younger than the Duke himself.
As the royal family are united in their grief, I hope they will grow closer together and cherish each other even more, having lost one of their most beloved members. His marriage to the Queen was built on deep love and a shared Christian faith which, as we have heard from many bishops and clergy, was living and real. It is for that reason that we can ask with confidence that he rest in peace and rise in glory. He had an assurance that death was not the end, and it is the Queen and her family whom we must continue to support in their grief.
I join speakers from across the House and the country in paying tribute and respect to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and in conveying heartfelt sympathies and condolences from all our constituents—from people across Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley—to Her Majesty the Queen, to all the royal family and to all Prince Philip’s friends and family, who are grieving now.
His has been a remarkable life through a remarkable century: from royal to refugee to royal once more; a naval officer while our world was at war; a champion of science, industry and the environment in the peace; and always a public servant. Every one of us across the country, whether we ever met him or not, could not fail to see the steadfast sense of duty, commitment and devotion that he showed to the Queen and to our country. Their marriage and partnership endured through seven remarkable decades. The role of the monarch, even one as well loved and respected as our Queen truly is, can still so easily become a lonely one, yet for so many decades Prince Philip provided the steadfast support, devotion and comfort that has supported our Queen, and our country owes him thanks.
The great age at which Prince Philip remarkably kept working—well into his 90s—is astonishing. Just six years ago, already well into his 90s, he came to the opening of West Yorkshire police’s new training centre at Carr Lane in Wakefield, where he described himself as the world’s most experienced plaque opener. He was not wrong.
Millions of people will remember him not for those royal visits, many as they were, but for the adventures he led them through with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. On a miserable wet Friday evening close to Easter, in the middle of the 1980s and somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and like millions of teenagers before and since, I climbed out of the school minibus to set off across a muddy field in bucketing rain. Our sleeping bags were soggy by the time we arrived at our campsite, and it poured all night, but the sun shone in the morning, and we loved it. The fact that so many millions of young people across the country and across the generations have done the same thing in the Duke of Edinburgh’s name shows how it has stood the test of time. The expeditions that instilled teamwork, leadership and resilience; the chance to learn new skills; the encouragement of physical activity; the responsibility to take up volunteering and to do duty to others—those elements were things that he himself loved and believed in as ways to build young people’s confidence and opportunities.
Subsequent Governments talked often of and tried to set up versions of national citizen services for young people, but it was the Duke of Edinburgh, back in the 1950s, who actually set up one. It has endured and reached out: a quarter of the young people who started the scheme last year faced some kind of financial hardship or needed support, and so many young people from all corners of the country have had the chance to take part, including students in Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley today. New College Pontefract students describe their experiences as bringing them great pride, teaching them about dedication and hard work and building confidence.
Prince Philip resisted the idea of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme’s being seen as his legacy.
“No, no…it’s there for people to use”
he said, yet it feels more important, with more potential and significance on his passing, even than it did more than 60 years ago. When young people have had such a tough time this year, when they have too often been held back or been stuck inside or unable to reach out or spread their wings, the Duke of Edinburgh scheme feels more apt than ever. It is a great legacy, and we now must make sure it keeps reaching more and more young people, so that Prince Philip can keep reaching new generations, just as he did all of us.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to send deepest condolences on behalf of myself and my constituents here in Basingstoke to Her Majesty the Queen on the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and to send deepest sympathy to the whole of the royal family.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s was a life of public service, through his military service, his patronage of hundreds of charities and community organisations and, of course, through his very clear service over more than seven decades in support of Her Majesty the Queen. His Royal Highness has quite simply been part of all our lives over the past seven decades. He led by example in his commitment to public service, to our communities and to those hundreds of charities and community organisations. That genuine passion and commitment to our country, our communities and our charities, which are so important to us, start to explain the depth of feeling expressed throughout the United Kingdom following his death on Friday.
That serious commitment was coupled with a serious sense of humour, as we have heard in earlier tributes. I had a small insight into that when I met His Royal Highness on more informal occasions. I think particularly of when my daughter and I met him a few years ago at a Buckingham Palace garden party. My daughter had just taken her A-levels, and after vigorously shaking her hand Prince Philip made it very clear that he was incredulous that any 18-year-old would want to spend their time meeting a pensioner, rather than being off travelling in the far east—typically self-deprecating and typically putting everyone at ease.
Here in Hampshire, tributes have been led by our lord lieutenant, Nigel Atkins, and in Basingstoke by our mayor, Diane Taylor. Our flags are flown at half mast, our floral tributes have been laid and heartfelt tributes have been paid to the contribution that Prince Philip made over so many years, including memories of his visits to Hampshire, particularly when he opened the Milestones museum in Basingstoke town.
Of course, His Royal Highness will be best remembered for launching the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme back in 1956 to help young people develop the skills and resilience that they need to succeed in life. Over the past 65 years, more than 6 million have completed this award. As we look forward, what better way to commemorate his life and to cement his legacy than to continue to commit to support an expansion of youth work and extra-curricular activities for all young people, particularly following the last year and the effect of the pandemic on so many young people.
There will be time for us to develop that thinking more as we look to the future and at how the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and other youth organisations can cement the passion and commitment that he had to support young people, but at this time we need to salute Prince Philip’s service to our country. He will be missed, but his legacy will certainly go on.
I wish to speak on behalf of Plaid Cymru in Westminster and to express my party’s condolences to Queen Elizabeth and her family at the death of Prince Philip, and to share their sadness following the death of a husband, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather. Sorrow at the close of such constancy and stability resonates across families, communities and nations during this time of great loss, and there are many people in Wales who would desire that I convey their sorrow and sympathy today.
Among the Duke of Edinburgh’s titles was Earl of Merioneth, which is now inherited by his eldest son. The Queen wears a wedding band made of gold from the Clogau St David’s mine above Bontddu, near Dolgellau in Meirionnydd. Prince Philip was stationed as an instructor of naval ratings at HMS Glendower, near Pwllheli, during the second world war. The navy camp became one of Billy Butlin’s holiday camps after the war, which the Duke and the Queen toured in an open-top Land Rover during a later visit.
I, too, would particularly like to mention the Duke of Edinburgh’s contribution to the promotion of outdoor education for young people, and how he was influenced by the pioneering educator Kurt Hahn, initially during the Prince’s own schooling at Gordonstoun in Scotland and then with the establishment of the first Outward Bound centre in Aberdovey, Meirionnydd in 1941. This led in turn to the principles that continue to underpin the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and that have enriched the lives of millions of young people. The four pillars of these principles are physical fitness, craftsmanship, self-reliance and compassion, and they are reflected in Wales’s educational initiatives, from the international baccalaureate at Atlantic College to the principles that inform the nation’s public curriculum.
To close, I would like to say in Welsh: “Pob cydymdeimlad â’r teulu brenhinol yn eu galar, ac â phob teulu sy’n galaru am anwyliaid eleni. Boed iddyn nhw oll huno mewn perffaith hedd.” [Translation: Condolences to the royal family for their loss and to all those who are grieving for loved ones this year. May they all rest in peace.]
Today’s tributes have demonstrated that there are few who have lived a life as full as that of The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. There are even fewer who have dedicated their life to the service of our country with such resolution and unwavering commitment. His was a long life that saw early service in the Navy in the second world war, where he served with distinction within both the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets. Before that, he graduated as best in class as a naval cadet at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, something of which we in Devon are particularly proud.
There could surely be few as active as he in support of both community and country. He was a patron, president or member of more than 800 organisations and he made over 22,000 solo engagements during the reign of Her Majesty the Queen. It was not until the age of 96 that he retired from royal duties. He truly did fill Kipling’s
“unforgiving minute with 60 seconds’ worth of distance run.”
He will be especially remembered for championing the environment, and of course, as we have heard, for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, in which hundreds of thousands take part every year, including many young people in my constituency, to develop their skills and mature into more confident, capable and caring people—to give them, as he termed it, a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities. In my constituency, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is offered at all three of my secondary schools and it is embraced with vigour, with around 100 students at Queen Elizabeth’s School in Crediton alone completing an award in a typical year. Dartmoor, which lies at the heart of my constituency, has been the beautiful place of challenge where so many people from all over our country and from a huge diversity of backgrounds have embraced the Duke of Edinburgh’s dream, and millions of young people up and down the United Kingdom and across 140 countries around the world have much to thank him for. He changed lives, and that is a legacy of which to be especially proud.
Above all, however, our thoughts must be with Her Majesty the Queen and her family. Over 70 years of marriage, the longest serving British royal consort in our history and a long life as a supportive husband to Queen Elizabeth now leave what must be a terribly painful void. Our thoughts are with the Queen and all her family, and the thoughts of my family—of Michelle, Natascha, Ophelia and Evelyn—are with her, too. May the Duke of Edinburgh rest in peace.
I must confess that, like many people, there are things I have learned in the last few days about the life of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, that I did not previously know. They include the difficult circumstances of his early life, his mother’s bravery in hiding a Jewish family from the Germans in Greece during the war, for which she is remembered at Yad Vashem as one of the righteous among the nations, and just how deep and long-standing was his personal commitment to wildlife and nature conservation, which was in many ways, as others have said, ahead of its time.
We were all aware, however, that the Duke of Edinburgh was famous for his plain speaking. I particularly enjoyed the story that when he discovered that the Parliament of Ghana had only 200 Members, he quipped, I trust with a smile on his face, “That is about the right number. We have 650 and most of them are a complete bloody waste of time.” How one describes that or any of his other more famous comments—he certainly said what he thought—requires us to understand from whence they and he came. In over 70 years of public service in which carried out with distinction the role of first consort, a job without a description, he went into countless rooms and was introduced to countless lines of people, all of whom were waiting for him to say something. Which one of us would be able to do that for over seven decades without, on occasion, saying something that we might later come to regret—or, in the Duke’s case, probably not?
The Duke was, as are we all, a product of the age in which he was born and of his upbringing. When he was born in 1921, Queen Victoria had died only 20 years previously and Lloyd George was Prime Minister. It was another era. As we sometimes wrestle with our past and how we should come to terms with it, we cannot forget that fundamental truth about how each one of us is shaped. Nor can we truly understand the person without also understanding the age in which they lived, as the Duke of Edinburgh always sought to do, and he lived for a very long time. Even if we did not know all that he was doing, he was ever present our lives, as he was that constant strength to Her Majesty the Queen. As we have watched the tributes and the newsreels about his life, we have inevitably reflected upon our own lives, upon what has changed and what that has meant as we ourselves have got older. This is, after all, the human condition. As the American baseball player Satchel Paige wisely observed:
“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
I suspect that the Duke would have agreed with that sentiment.
As we all express our condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family on their loss, we should also remember that the passing of a public figure is, for the family that loved him, also a deeply felt private loss. There is the public mourning, but there is also the private grief, which is very personal, and it can be difficult to endure amid all the public attention. However, of one thing we can be sure. All the comments, all the recollections, all the stories that have been told about the Duke of Edinburgh in the past few days will surely be a great comfort to the royal family, as they would be to anyone who has lost a loved one—and oh, how many of our citizens have experienced such a loss in the last year. Why? Because when someone close to us dies, to know that their life was well lived, to know that it had meaning, and to know that they will be remembered is perhaps the greatest comfort of all. May he rest in peace.
I found it very moving to hear the tributes to His Royal Highness flooding in from people around the country, the Commonwealth and the whole world. I join them and everyone in the House in offering my sincerest condolences and sympathies to Her Majesty the Queen and her family at this difficult time.
Clearly, our nation owes the Duke a great debt of gratitude for his bravery, defending our freedom during the war, and for his dedicated public service over seven decades. He played a central role in ensuring both that the monarchy adapted to the modern era and that it remains a well-loved institution at the heart of our national life. I had the honour of meeting His Royal Highness on a number of occasions, including the 2014 and 2016 visits to Northern Ireland that he undertook with Her Majesty the Queen during the period in which I was Secretary of State there. He was well into his 90s when I met him, and what always struck me was the incredible energy and enthusiasm with which he approached everything that he did. It is quite phenomenal that he only chose to retire at 96. He was always courteous and friendly, and I think that the light-hearted remarks about which we have heard so much over the past few days were always intended to put people at ease. He always expressed a genuine and well-informed interest in Northern Ireland and its future.
The BBC has calculated that the Duke made 57 visits to Northern Ireland, and I especially remember his role in the 2014 visit, which broke new ground in the places visited and the proximity to the public. I recall his being solicitously at the Queen’s side, for example, as we visited St George’s market in Belfast. The market is right up close to many locations that saw more than their fair share of violence during Northern Ireland’s long years of tragedy, yet the biggest security scares that day were a Belfast teenager sneaking a quick selfie with Her Majesty and losing Prince Philip in the crowd, as he mingled happily with those who turned out to greet the royal couple.
There was never a lack of spontaneity and unpredict-ability when it came to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. He was, of course, a crucial part of the Queen’s historic state visit to Ireland in 2011. He suffered deep personal loss at the hands of the IRA, which murdered his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, to whom he was very close. Today, as well as his many other achievements, we should remember the part that the Duke played in reconciliation in Northern Ireland. After such a devastating loss, it could not have been easy to meet and shake hands with Martin McGuinness, but that it is what he and Her Majesty chose to do. What is more, during the state visit of President Higgins, they welcomed Martin McGuinness into their home at Windsor —someone identified with the organisation and at whose hands they had suffered such a terrible loss. In so doing, I believe that they played a personal role in helping to take Northern Ireland forward from its divided past to a better future, and for that we should all express our sincere gratitude to the man whose loss we are sadly mourning today.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of my constituents in tribute and condolence this afternoon. As has been said already in the House and will no doubt be repeated throughout these tributes and for months and years to come, on Friday we lost an extraordinary public servant who dedicated his long life to our country, transformed the lives of millions of young people across the world and promoted the issue of global conservation well before it was widely understood by the vast majority of the population. For more than seven decades, he was a constant at the Queen’s side. We know from all that has been said and written how much the Queen cherished the support, counsel and love of her husband.
Prince Philip, of course, had a long association with Scotland that dates back to his schooldays at Gordonstoun in the mid-1930s. But it is on my city—the city of his title, Edinburgh—that I would like to say a few words in tribute this afternoon. He was the patron of around 30 charities and educational institutions based in Edinburgh alone, not to mention the many thousands across the whole country that we have heard about today, including Heriot-Watt University, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the University of Edinburgh Graduates’ Association and the Botanical Society of Scotland; he was patron and a freeman of Edinburgh itself; Edinburgh chamber of commerce and enterprise, the Edinburgh Indian Association, the Edinburgh press club and, of course, the Edinburgh Royal Navy club—how could he not be? His beloved royal yacht Britannia, which he helped to design, is retired in Leith in Edinburgh.
He was a friend of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, a patron of the National Galleries of Scotland, the Rotary Club of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh athletics club, and of course, he was chancellor of Edinburgh University for nearly 60 years from the 1950s—a position that he accepted with the joke that
“only a Scotsman could survive Scottish education”;
I am not sure whether that was born of experience at Gordonstoun. He was heavily involved in all aspects of the university. He would preside over special graduation ceremonies. He would help to induct new professors. He attended long service awards for senior staff. He would attend the installation of the rector by students. He enjoyed the uproar of the rector’s ceremony and complained to former Professor O’Shea that he had made the event “too orderly”. He partook in the granting of fellowships to postgraduate students at the University of Edinburgh undertaking advanced and complex research. However, he never shied away from engaging with the students on their complicated topics—everything from particle physics to Dolly the sheep. In fact, one recipient said afterwards:
“I feel I’ve just been put through another exam, except it was much harder than the last one.”
He had an official Edinburgh colour, Edinburgh green, which his team wore and which lined his private car, and his own official standard, featuring the lions and hearts of Denmark, a white cross on blue for Greece, two black pales on white for the Mountbatten family and the coat of arms of the city of Edinburgh. We have heard much this afternoon about the founding of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards in 1956, which he chaired until his 80th birthday. He regularly attended the gold ceremonies hosted at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. For many young people, those awards were the closest they would get to a traditional high school graduation, so the Duke of Edinburgh always took the time to individually speak to as many of the awardees as he could. It is a scheme that transformed the life chances of young people across the world, from the prince’s own school at Gordonstoun all the way to the school that I attended in Edinburgh.
Many people recall anecdotes of his sharp wit and humour. Everyone who has paid tribute since Friday has talked of him as a funny, engaging, warm and loving man. He once joked, while stuck in a lift during a visit to Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, that it
“could only happen in a technical college.”
He was not just the Duke of Edinburgh in name but the Duke of Edinburgh in his actions and public service too. His legacy to the UK, the Commonwealth overseas territories and the wider world will be celebrated and will live on for many generations. His contribution to my city of Edinburgh will be unmatched.
Losing a loved one is always so hard. I lost my own father when he was just 39. His grandchildren will only know him by the stories that we tell and the anecdotes that we recall. But it does not matter whether you are 39 or 99, a duke or a cooper; the hurt and loss to those loved ones and friends never diminishes. On behalf of my constituents in Edinburgh South and the city of his title, we send our heartfelt condolences and thoughts to Her Majesty the Queen, his close and extended family and all who will miss him so much.
On behalf of the people of Moray, may I extend my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and to the entire royal family? The hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) has spoken about the city of the Duke of Edinburgh’s title; I will make some comments about Moray, the home of his school, Gordonstoun, which is just outside the village of Duffus.
The Duke of Edinburgh was one of the first pupils at Gordonstoun in 1934. Over the weekend, I spoke to the current principal, Lisa Kerr, who shared some remarks about his time there. It was at Gordonstoun that the Duke of Edinburgh developed his lifelong love of Scotland, of the sea, of the outdoors and of sport. He took various positions in the school during his career there, culminating in becoming guardian, or head boy, in his final term—a role in which, to quote the school, he was
“universally trusted, liked and respected”.
On Prince Philip’s engagement to Princess Elizabeth in 1947, Gordonstoun’s founder, Kurt Hahn, wrote that the prince
“enjoyed life…his laughter was heard everywhere and created merriness around him”.
Those were clearly traits that he continued throughout his many decades of public service.
Many right hon. and hon. Members have spoken about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which of course also started in Moray: Kurt Hahn founded the Moray badge, a precursor to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and in the autumn of 1938, in the Duke of Edinburgh’s final year at Gordonstoun, he was awarded the senior silver Moray badge. In 1954, Kurt Hahn sought to take the award to a national level; he consulted Prince Philip and persuaded him to give his name to what became the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 1956. That award has now supported and helped millions of young people, not just here in the United Kingdom but in over 140 countries. Young people across the world have benefited from their participation in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and it is a fitting and lasting legacy.
I would also like to share a comment that our lord lieutenant, Major General Seymour Monro, made about Prince Philip over the weekend:
“He gave great leadership to so many, whether it was the young, whether it was encouraging technology and enterprise in business, or encouraging sporting activities and events…However, above all, it will be as The Queen’s enduring, loyal and supportive Consort that he will be remembered.”
Today, we remember. We remember a life well lived, a life of dedicated service to his Queen and country. We extend our sympathies to the Queen and the entire royal family as they mourn the loss of a loving husband of more than 70 years and a caring father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Prince Philip held a special place for Scotland from his younger years and his many travels there, on holiday at Balmoral and visiting so many good causes and charities across the country. Today, as a nation, we mourn the loss of a great public servant who for more than seven decades did so much for Scotland and the entire United Kingdom. We join in the royal family’s mourning of their loss of a true champion.
“Everything that wasn’t invented by God was invented by an engineer.”
So said Prince Philip, with characteristic economy. As Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee of this House, I would like to add a few words to yours, Mr Speaker, and to those of the Prime Minister, the Father of the House and other Members. I pay particular tribute to the characteristically energetic and galvanising role that the Duke played as a champion of science, particularly in its application in technology and engineering.
As the Prime Minister alluded to, there is form for the consort of a long-serving and brilliant Queen choosing science and technology for encouragement and action. Indeed, one of Prince Philip’s first public speeches was in 1951, the centenary of the great exhibition, and explicitly drew on Prince Albert’s example. Appointed, like the previous prince consort, as president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, he devoted his inaugural address to a clear-sighted and candid analysis of the need to improve the translation of scientific discovery into industrial application. He noted that he detected
“a conservative attitude towards technical change”
in the country, and that
“existing institutions…do not produce anything like enough trained technologists to meet the urgent needs of scientific development in industry”.
That was not merely a critique, but an agenda. Having become president of the Council of Engineering Institutions—the 12 societies that made up the then fragmented British engineering profession—the Duke wanted there to be a clear path for engineers, whatever their specialism, to reach professional status. This was achieved by the formation of the Engineers Registration Board and the creation of different professional levels, including chartered engineer.
Prince Philip was concerned that the prestige of engineering was not high enough, and through what we now call soft power, helped by the scientifically unexplained effect of dinners at Buckingham Palace, the Prince prevailed with his own vision for a fellowship of engineering, which had its inaugural meeting in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace in 1976. In 1992, it became the Royal Academy of Engineering, with the Duke as its senior fellow, and a very active one at that.
The Prince was not just the senior fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, but, as we have heard in the debate, a fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and chancellor of many universities, and indeed polytechnics and colleges.
Members of my Committee and others in the House know that the work of translating scientific discovery into practice, the enhancement of the prestige of technology and engineering and the improvement of technical education are matters that not only occupied Prince Albert and Prince Philip, but that occupy all of us today. We recognise and celebrate the decisive, practical achievements of the Duke of Edinburgh, helping to mass the strength of a fragmented and too-little-recognised profession.
As Lord Browne of Madingley, a former president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said,
“Prince Philip saved engineering in the UK, ensuring that it has not merely a great history, but a great future too.”
We give thanks for that lifetime of work.
I am speaking on behalf of my Hull parliamentary neighbours, my hon. Friends the Members for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner) and for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Emma Hardy), and for all our constituents, in expressing deep condolences to the Queen and the royal family at this very sad time.
It is right to note that the royal family are, first and foremost, a family grieving their loss. Sadly, they are like so many other families in the United Kingdom who have suffered loss and bereavement this past year and are grieving at this time too. But today we remember a long life so well lived and a man who devoted himself to public service. The Duke of Edinburgh had an active and inquiring mind, a sense of humour, the willingness to speak his mind, and a strong sense of duty to his Queen and country.
It is impossible in a few minutes to do justice to all the causes and interests to which the Duke gave so much for so long, including supporting our armed forces; establishing the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, in which so many young people in Hull have participated; and pioneering wildlife and nature conservation. Hull is a maritime city, and I know the Duke of Edinburgh had a long association with Hull Trinity House and for some years would attend its Christmas luncheons.
I also remember very well when the Duke last visited the city of Hull, in 2009, with Her Majesty the Queen, but for a moment I want to focus on the fact that, along with Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Philip was a prominent member of what has become known as the greatest generation. He played his part in fighting for our country’s survival, the liberation of Europe from Nazi enslavement and its rebuilding after the war. I have the huge privilege of serving on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and I know that veterans from all over the Commonwealth will mourn the Duke’s passing. For me, some of the most moving footage shown over the weekend was of the Duke marching among the ranks of fellow war veterans, saluting his Queen.
There is a public debate on ideas for remembering the Duke, and whatever is agreed, I hope that it supports British skills and jobs and provides opportunities for our young people, but I have a suggestion too. The first ship on which Prince Philip, then only 18, served as a midshipman was HMS Ramillies. It was one of the historic Royal Navy ships that eventually took part in Operation Overlord, the D-day landings. One of its guns stands outside the Imperial War Museum today. There is a programme for new Royal Navy ships, and it seems fitting to me that, remembering Prince Philip, we should restore the name HMS Ramillies to one of our future ships.
Rest in peace.
On 9 April, when I heard the sad news, I walked to the small Norman church, St Michael’s, next to our home at Upton Cressett, and tolled the Hanover bell 99 times. The bell was hung in 1701 to commemorate the Hanoverian succession negotiated by the ambassador to Hanover, James Cressett, and the Act of Settlement, which took place that year. Directly below the bell stands the Norman font, which Prince Philip arranged to be transferred to Gordonstoun in the 1960s for safekeeping, as the church and the house were then derelict. The font is now returned. This was typical of his spiritual sense: we hear he had more books on religion than any other subject. Our prayers and thoughts, therefore, are with the Queen and the royal family, and my constituents of Stone join with me in their private grief.
I had the privilege of conversing with Prince Philip occasionally, including on the environment. At a garden party, I introduced him to Margaret Thatcher’s adviser on the subject. “Aha!” he said. “So your party is now on my bandwagon, is it?” I replied, “We’ve been on it since Disraeli,” and we had a good laugh. Another time, at St George’s House in Windsor, we touched on the subject of Europe, which was also very illuminating.
Last week, we heard much new about Prince Philip, bringing his long and distinguished life of service into new focus. He was a polymath, a pathfinder with a purpose, with a sharp wit and much laughter. His values were both traditional and modern. He lived a life of duty, self-reliant, selfless without self-pity, and self-effacing. He did not do political correctness. He used his role for the good of mankind, and his award scheme helped millions of young people to achieve their potential in this country, across the Commonwealth and throughout the world, from every walk of life, every faith and every race. He was a good man, doing good things; a brave man in the Navy and in the war. He was as talented as he was learned: curious beyond words, applying his knowledge of science, technology and engineering, and insisting on its practical implementation.
In the words of Shakespeare, Prince Philip would have said,
“I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life, but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.”
He was his own man, and a man of his own time. He was a consummate, competitive sportsman, with rugged determination at the reins of his carriage or on the polo field, and he loved to win. He was head of his school and captain of cricket, and later president of the Marylebone Cricket Club. Young people needed playing fields, and he ensured they had them. The film recordings of his life with the Queen show the mutual, sheer love and laughter expressed in their eyes when they were together for those wonderful 73 years. I remember watching the wedding on television: a golden moment in 1947, after six years of war and deep austerity.
On Easter Sunday, shortly before Prince Philip peacefully passed away, Prince Charles read Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ecstatic poem “God’s Grandeur” for the Easter meditation at Stonyhurst, my old school. It opens with the words that so well express his father’s spirituality, and his commitment to the world around us:
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
It goes on to say, “nature is never spent”. As you know so well, Mr Speaker, Stonyhurst is in the Ribble Valley, which inspired Hopkins, and we are told that Her Majesty and Prince Philip have long and greatly loved that area. Hopkins taught at Stonyhurst, where he wrote exquisite poetry about Ribblesdale and the River Hodder by Whitewell, including his poem of 1882 that begins:
“As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame”.
This literally is at the heart of our country, as was Prince Philip himself. He was a man for all seasons and for all mankind. We thank him, and may he rest in peace.
On behalf of my party, the Green party of England and Wales, I would like to join Members from across the House in paying tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and in expressing my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen at this very sad and difficult time. While this is a key moment for the life of the country, first and foremost it is a deeply personal one for the Duke’s family, and, in particular, for the Queen.
The past year has highlighted the importance of family like never before, and I am sure that the death of Prince Philip has resonated even more strongly with many other families up and down the country who are also mourning the loss of loved ones.
So much has been said already about the Duke’s long life of public service, his vision in creating the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, the pioneering role he played in global interfaith developments, and his internationalism and global outlook. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, it is on his advocacy for nature and wildlife that I would like to focus.
The Duke was a champion of the early environmental movement long before it was fashionable, recognising that we depend
“on being part of the web of life, we depend on every other living thing on this planet”.
He acknowledged what he called a moral duty to protect other species, saying:
“If we as humans have got this power of life and death, not just life and death but extinction and survival, we ought to exercise it with some sort of moral sense.”
Ever practical, he took those insights and translated them into action when Sir Peter Scott invited him to become involved in the founding of what was then the World Wildlife Fund, becoming its first president in 1961, a role that he held for more than 20 years before becoming president of WWF International from 1981 to 1996. As Sir David Attenborough has said:
“His importance to conservation worldwide has been absolutely huge.”
I particularly appreciate his impatience for change. He addressed the conference on world pollution in Strasbourg in 1970, telling his audience:
“It’s totally useless for a lot of well-meaning people to wring their hands in conference and to point out the dangers of pollution or the destruction of the countryside if no one is willing or capable of taking any action.”
Ever practical, he was also one of the first people in Britain to install solar panels at Sandringham. Back in 1982, almost 40 years ago, he brought up a global environmental threat that now makes headlines, but which, back then, was rarely spoken of at all outside green circles. It was what he called
“a hotly-debated issue directly attributable to the development of industry... the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”—
the greenhouse effect.
I am not sure that the Duke of Edinburgh would have particularly relished a glowing tribute from the green movement. In an interview to celebrate his 90th birthday, he was asked whether he would consider himself a green. After a moment of utter bemusement, he replied “No”, before famously going on to remark that
“there’s a difference between being concerned for the conservation of nature and being a bunny-hugger”.
For the record, I do not think that there are many greens who champion animal protection without also being active in the wider causes of the threats to wildlife. However, I am not for a moment trying to suggest that he was a card-carrying green activist, or that his views on a wide range of issues concerning nature and animal protection, including hunting, align fully with today’s green movement; they clearly do not. However, he was, undoubtedly, well ahead of his time when it came to understanding the importance of and our dependence on the natural world, and he played an important role in promoting that cause.
Many people’s minds are turning now to asking what his legacy might be. I do not pretend to know, but I hope that it might include that impatience for urgent action on the environment. I will conclude with his own words:
“It is up to all of us to protect the natural world—and there’s no time to lose.”
When I first saw the list of those who wished to contribute to this debate, my heart sank slightly because I wondered how long this debate could go on and still remain so interesting. We have just heard yet another remarkable tribute to His Royal Highness—dare I say the woke paying tribute to the unwoke? It underlines how His Royal Highness was the most amazingly unifying figure. Perhaps we in this House and those outside should take a lesson from this occasion and consider what can bring us together, or, thinking of the words of Jo Cox, what united us rather than divided us. I shall try to avoid repeating what has been said. The sheer variety of these tributes presents an amazing collage of an even more amazing life.
I rise to pay tribute to the late Duke for his particular interest in promoting better reflection among our leaders in all walks of national life in the modern world. There has been reference to his religion from my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), who paid a remarkable tribute to him. The Duke founded a profoundly changing institution, St George’s House, which is committed to effecting change for the better and nurturing wisdom through dialogue. That was in 1966, before there was much interfaith dialogue between the Christian Churches, let alone between Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Christians of all denominations. That powered a new direction of religious thinking in this country. St George’s House now hosts some 60 events every year for reflection and consultation on contemporary problems and issues.
Out of what became known as the Windsor meetings grew something called the Windsor Leadership Trust, which provides transformational leadership programmes for senior leaders across all sectors, including corporate, public, military, education, faith, not for profit, and anything else we might care to imagine—even politics. The trust offers a safe space for leaders to share personal and professional challenges with each other, and the opportunity for personal growth and reflection. Those who have had the privilege of attending its programmes will attest to the fact that the Windsor Leadership Trust’s values and methods are inspiring and empowering. Without His Royal Highness offering that first spark of inspiration, generations of our leaders over the years would have discovered less of their potential and would have contributed less. That is yet another example of how his influence will live on, to the benefit of present and future generations of our country. As we grieve, and as we think most of all of Her Majesty and the Duke’s other family and friends, we give thanks for that yet further contribution and for the Duke’s great life.
Madam Deputy Speaker, you will know that I have been away from the House and doing my duties online for almost a year, so it is a pleasure to be back. However, I wanted to be here for this occasion, where we are thinking of the sad passing of the Duke of Edinburgh and the impact that that has on Her Majesty and the royal family.
Having been a Member of Parliament for a very long time—normally when I say that, people say, “Too long”—I have been lucky to have had conversations with the Duke of Edinburgh and Her Majesty. On one wonderful occasion, we were talking about the things we had in common—my wife and I have four children, and they had four children. The wonderful thing about the Duke of Edinburgh was that, from that time, I couldn’t meet him without him saying, “How are the children? Are they doing the Duke of Edinburgh?” He had a phenomenal memory.
I got to work closely with the Duke of Edinburgh because of his work with, and his great presidency of, the Royal Society of Arts, although he would say, “It’s not the Royal Society of Arts. It’s the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce”—he absolutely insisted on that full agenda. There are two things that came out of the Royal Society of Arts that I worked with him on. One was a very interesting group where we tried to look at the future of the British countryside. It met at the RSA the first time and then at Buckingham Palace. What I learned from those meetings was that the Duke of Edinburgh could do public service with a sense of humour. He had a wonderful sense of humour. They must have minted the saying “Not suffering fools gladly” for him, because there was certainly that element to his way of chairing a committee.
He would do his research, and he loved teasing politicians. There were three of us on that committee, and he would always find something. I got teased by him because at one stage, when the current Prime Minister was editor of The Spectator, he awarded me the parliamentary speech of the year award for my speech on foxhunting. The Duke of Edinburgh never ceased teasing me about my commitment to foxhunting. On the other hand, the Duke of Edinburgh would suddenly pick up on something and say, “What is this Labour party policy, the ‘right to roam’?” I said, “Well, it’s to encourage people to get out into the countryside and walk wherever they can very freely.” He said, “It sounds like a licence to poach and interfere with good farmers to me”. He always had an edge to him, and it was such a good committee. I learned that people can do public service with a sense of humour and with passion.
The other passion that I was lucky enough to share with the Duke of Edinburgh was design. We have heard tributes and people have mentioned his commitment to science, but every year, in conjunction with the Design Council and the design profession, he presented the Duke of Edinburgh Award for young, successful designers, and the wonderful awards ceremony in Buckingham Palace did so much to change the culture, focus and priority of design in our country. I remember him launching in and stating that the Design Council should be “more than a posh shop in Piccadilly” and that it had to reach out so that everybody understands the importance of design in changing lives.
I enjoyed the relationship I had with that great man and I will mourn him. I know that Her Majesty will miss him sorely, but, as in my family, the royal family will come together and get through this. I will mourn with them.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman)—what a lovely and fitting tribute he paid. I too pay tribute on behalf of my constituents to the extraordinary long life, filled with service, of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. When I was Leader of the Commons and Lord President of the Council between 2017 and 2019, I had the privilege of regularly meeting Her Majesty the Queen, and I met Prince Philip on a number of occasions. Is it not wonderful that everybody in this place seems to have their own stories of meeting members of the royal family? How wonderful it is that they have reached out to us all over such a long period.
In particular, I recall a lunch at Windsor castle where I had the pleasure of sitting next to His Royal Highness. The noble Baroness the Leader of the Lords and I were chatting with him at length about his role in the restoration of Windsor castle, following the 1992 fire—a role for which he was awarded the Europa Nostra medal for his commitment to making the past reflect the importance of the future. The noble Baroness and I shared our ambition to see the restoration and renewal of the Houses of Parliament. In the peppery way for which Prince Philip is world famous, he was in absolutely no doubt about the need to, shall we say, get on with it, and he was slightly dubious about whether Members of this House and the other House might ever settle themselves down and find a way forward—so, colleagues, take note, please.
I also had a more personal encounter, which to this day is an extraordinary family memory for me, Ben and our sons, Fred and Harry, when we were invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s private secretary was kind enough to introduce my family to the Queen and Prince Philip. Fred—my eldest son—to his great delight, had been presented his gold Duke of Edinburgh Award by Prince Philip at his last ceremony before stepping down from public duties. Fred mentioned this with pride, whereupon Prince Philip turned to Harry and said, “What about you, young man?” Harry told him that he, too, had completed all stages of his gold DofE Award, but I am afraid that I was unable to resist throwing in that he had not completed the paperwork and so would not be getting his award any time soon, whereupon Prince Philip looked at Harry fiercely from under his eyebrows and said, “Well, you’d better get on with it, young man.” Harry told me afterwards that of all the many terrible things that I have done to him as his mother, probably the worst of all was telling tales about him in the presence of Prince Philip and Her Majesty the Queen.
It was an incredible honour to hold the office of Lord President of the Council because it provided a bird’s eye view of Her Majesty the Queen’s and Prince Philip’s extraordinary commitment to duty. I would like to finish by paying humble tribute to their extraordinary achievements together, and by sending the Queen the deepest condolences on her very sad loss.
The right hon. Lady is absolutely right about everyone having recollections of their encounters with Prince Philip. I have never forgotten the advice that he gave me—I have never told anyone what it was, and I am not going to now—when, as chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, he came to the students’ ball, and I was, as a very young and naive 21-year-old, the union president. I had the privilege of spending a few hours that evening with him, and I vividly remember how unexpectedly kind, charming and absolutely inspiring he was. As many people have said, he has made such a difference to the lives of so many young people. I was one of them, for which I am eternally grateful. He will be so greatly missed.
Thank you for calling me to speak on this very sad occasion, Madam Deputy Speaker. Like you, I met the Duke of Edinburgh a number of times in my role as MP for Garston and Halewood and as a Minister in Her Majesty’s Government, and I would like to say a bit about my impressions of him.
The Duke quite clearly enjoyed talking to young people. I remember when he accompanied Her Majesty the Queen when she opened the Garston Urban Village Hall in my constituency. As is always the case at such engagements, there was a detailed timetable that choreographed the time available to the minute, but I could not help but notice that the Duke was perfectly willing to subvert it a little. I was struck by the fact that he was very keen to speak to everyone but was particularly interested in spending time with the young people in attendance. Some of them were rather overwhelmed, but he talked to them and was responsible for holding up the visit while he did it. After the royal party had left—slightly late, it must be said—it was clear that he had made a good impression on the young people he had spoken to. He put them at their ease, showed an interest in them and encouraged them in their endeavours. I am sure that many of those who met him on that occasion still remember it to this day.
The Duke of Edinburgh also had a reputation for being provocative and speaking his mind. I recall once having lunch with him when he accompanied Her Majesty the Queen to open the Manchester Civil Justice Centre when I was the Courts Minister with some responsibility for prisons in the Ministry of Justice. The occasion got off to a somewhat inauspicious start when I was introduced by the lord lieutenant to Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as my sister. I was a bit fed up, as I am frequently mistaken for my sister. I was left wondering just how hard it would have been to get the name right, given that there was only one Courts Minister in the Government and the name on all the lists was not that of my sister—very hard, apparently. I thought that perhaps it was going to be one of those days, and wondered what else was about the go wrong.
The visit included lunch. At the top table were seated Her Majesty the Queen and the Lord Chancellor, then Jack Straw. The second table had the Duke of Edinburgh and me. If I had wondered beforehand what we might talk about, I need not have worried. Having very graciously insisting that I be seated first, he pitched straight in by opining that there would be fewer people before the courts and in prison if all young people had to spend some time in the armed forces, as indeed young men had to do until the 1950s. He had a twinkle in his eye, and I realised that he did not want to endure a dull lunch with boring small talk any more than I did, so he was seeking to make it interesting. It was a challenge that I was pleased to engage with.
We had the most lively debate, for which I was fortunately well briefed, as in those days my head was chock-full of statistics and policy initiatives, with which I sought to prove to him that he might possibly be wrong, giving evidence and precise figures. The time just flew by and what might have been a dull occasion full of small talk was enlivened by his wish to have a proper conversation, and an interesting one. He did not worry about being provocative; he did it deliberately to see how I would react. I was glad that I was on top of the subject and well briefed with up-to-date statistics so that I could present my arguments with evidence—I would have been somewhat more worried about the occasion had I not been.
We parted having had a lively intellectual debate, which I had not really anticipated at the official opening of a court building. We agreed to disagree, but perhaps I had provided him with some food for thought. He had certainly made me formulate good arguments in support of my views, and that is never a waste of time for a Minister. One hears so many such stories of him being challenging, and it seems likely, given my experience, that they are all true.
The royal family have lost a much-loved family member —a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather—and we all sympathise with them in their grief, particularly Her Majesty the Queen. The nation has lost a long-standing public servant—one of the last of those who saw active service in world war two—and a well respected man.
It seems to me that he made the most of his role and influenced the many young people he met to the good. He was clearly capable of provoking lively discussion, and if my experience is anything to go by, he knew how to make Ministers, and no doubt other policy makers, think, by challenging them to explain their views, having set out his own very clearly and in quite decided fashion. All in all, he is going to be very much missed.
In adding my words of tribute to His Royal Highness and my condolences to the royal family and to Her Majesty the Queen, for myself and on behalf of my constituents, I am led to reflect that my parents were married in the same year as Her Majesty and His Royal Highness, and that my father had also served in the Royal Navy. For many of their generation, that royal wedding was a sign of optimism, of a lightening of dark clouds after the second war, and of hope. That was then borne out by the lifetime of service that Her Majesty and His Royal Highness gave to this country thereafter.
Of course, His Royal Highness’s legacy relates not only to those of my parents’ generation; it runs through his many activities for all generations in this country and beyond. I imagine that every Member of Parliament who has been involved in their local scout groups and youth groups will have seen, as I have as a vice-president of Bromley and District scouts, and as other right hon. and hon. Members have said, the huge benefit and massive enrichment of lives that is given through the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
The Duke’s interest in innovation, business, enterprise and technology and his well-known directness of speech and dry sense of humour intertwined on the first occasion I had the privilege of meeting him. When I was the member for Romford in the Greater London Council in the final few months of that authority’s existence, His Royal Highness came to present the Queen’s award for industry to a local firm for business and technological innovation. The civic party was lined up at Romford railway station, which must have caused some amusement and interest among the commuters at that time of day. We were all duly introduced, the mayor, the deputy lieutenant, the Member of Parliament and me, as the Greater London Council member, to which His Royal Highness greeted me with the words “Good grief! I thought you’d been abolished.”
I was able to have slightly longer conversations on subsequent occasions, and more than once they turned on the topic of housing. It is sometimes forgotten that His Royal Highness was also an early and strong advocate of the housing sector and of social housing, in which he took a lifelong interest. For many years, he was president of the National Housing Federation. In 1976, he chaired an inquiry for it on rural housing, with a further inquiry in the 1980s on British housing, which did important work in that sector—a further example of the breadth of His Royal Highness’s interests and how he used his position to advance the good of the whole of our society.
Finally, Members will have seen during the gun salutes that salutes were also fired from our overseas territory of Gibraltar. As chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Gibraltar, which I have the honour to be, I thought it worth reflecting on the great affection and warmth with which His Royal Highness is regarded and remembered in Gibraltar, as are Her Majesty and all the royal family. Some hon. Members will have seen the very warm and generous tribute made by the Chief Minister, the hon. Fabian Picardo, QC, MP, and by the Governor. I know that our sister Parliament in Gibraltar will be paying tribute when it next sits. Ironically, in 1950, when His Royal Highness visited the Rock, he opened the building that is now home to the Gibraltar Parliament. The affection and warmth with which he is regarded there is something that will live on, and that legacy extends across the whole of the British family.
The thoughts of all the British family are with Her Majesty, not just as a wife and a consort, but as the mother of children, as well as our Head of State, for the regard in which she is held is so strong in all regards, but also for the sense of loss, which is as important to a family as it is to a monarch.
It is a great pleasure to follow such a beautiful tribute.
“There is an appointed time for everything”,
says the Book of Ecclesiastes.
“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”.
This has been a brilliant tribute this afternoon, because amidst the mourning there has been warmth, joy and happiness, and many fond memories. I hope those memories will be of some comfort to the Queen and her family when they have a chance to read this debate.
To remember the life of one is to remember the life lessons for all. When we celebrate the virtues of a life well lived, we affirm the values of what it means to live well. Today we remember not just an individual, but an ideal; not just a man but a marriage—a father who hated fuss and a husband who treasured humour.
I first want to offer the condolences of everybody in Britain’s second city, the city of Birmingham, to Her Majesty and her family today. The Duke was not always in Birmingham, but he was always there when we needed him. He was in Birmingham General Hospital to comfort the victims of the terrible Birmingham pub bombings, which ripped the heart out of families and the heart out of our city. He was there to open the Bullring in 1964 and to open New Street station in 2015. He was there to visit for the silver jubilee, to open the International Convention Centre, and of course most recently to inspect Jaguar Land Rover, that fine maker of what will be his final chariot.
The reason I think so many people in our country mourn the Duke of Edinburgh is the sense that an era is passing, but there is an ethos that we want to endure. It is an ethos that we want to protect, preserve and pass on.
As has been said, the Duke of Edinburgh was one of the last members of that greatest generation who protected us in our hour of maximum danger. A distinguished sailor, he was saved by the Royal Navy at birth and served the Royal Navy with brilliance, courage and fortitude. With his marriage to Her Majesty the Queen, his orders changed, but his duty never did. He came to epitomise a reserved resilience, a strength in putting another first. He became not simply a touchstone for the Queen, but a cornerstone for the Queen’s family and a key stone for the institution of monarchy in our country.
What distinguished him was not simply his backbone, but his banter. He understood that, in a difficult world, humour is often the oil that keeps the wheels moving, especially when those axles are frozen with nerves. He had grit and wit. Grit and wit are what the British Isles are made of, and grit and wit were what the Duke of Edinburgh was made of.
That is why the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme was so important to so many, certainly to the three poor children in my family. It encourages the ethos of service and adventure, which is the best of our national spirit. That is not always clear to those shivering in a tent on a windswept hillside, but character education is so important for our children because it teaches them not simply about the world around them but about the world inside them—the place where values are truly hammered out on the anvil of the soul. It teaches children those words of A.A. Milne:
“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
Millions of our children know that about themselves because of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.
My final thought is for the Commonwealth. The Duke of Edinburgh made 229 visits to 67 countries over and above those visits that he made with Her Majesty the Queen. Next year, this country, and my home city, is host to the Commonwealth games. We know that our success will be judged not simply by the medals we win but by the lives we change. What a fantastic memorial it would be to the Duke of Edinburgh if we can find a way of getting the next Duke of Edinburgh Award winners to work with Commonwealth countries around the world to carry forward the inspiration and the lessons of Prince Philip for a new generation.
I conclude with my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. St Augustine said that those who have left us are invisible, but never absent. Prince Philip will not be absent to any of us here today. He was a Duke of duty who we will remember for the rest of our time. He got to live the blessing of Tobias. He lived with the Queen long. That was because he lived in the spirit of the Book of Ruth:
“Wherever you go, I will go.
Wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will be my people.
Your God will be my God…
We shall be together forever.
And our love will be the gift of our God.”
As we remember Prince Philip today, that is a blessing to give thanks for.
I pay this tribute to his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh not just in a personal capacity, but on behalf of those residents I represent in the constituency of Southend West who would like to express their appreciation of everything the Duke has done for our nation.
Without question, the Duke of Edinburgh was one of my favourite royals. He really was my sort of person. We most definitely shared the same sense of humour, which not everyone understands and occasionally gets you into hot water, but there was never any malice. He was kind, generous, wise and a thoroughly decent person.
For someone who lived so long—just short of 100 years, and how I was looking forward to his sending a message to my annual centenarians’ tea party!—it was incredible that he did so much throughout his life. His childhood, his upbringing and what followed were quite extraordinary. It is not everyone whose mother becomes a nun and it is not everyone who has suffered so many personal tragedies, all carried out in the public gaze; yet in spite of innumerable challenges, he really did make the most of his life, whatever it threw up. In that, he set a wonderful example, hence the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
I met him on a number of occasions, and I have three stand-out memories. When, together with the Queen, he visited Southend and they were going on to my former constituency of Basildon, he suggested I join them in the car; I did not think that would go down particularly well. For many years, I was associated with the Caravan Club, and he hosted a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2007 for the club’s centenary. It was a wonderful occasion. Finally, at another event, he acted as the host of a Buckingham Palace reception on a rare occasion when Her Majesty was unwell, and we had a very amusing exchange, which I am not prepared to broadcast publicly.
For me, his lasting legacies will be as follows. I have had the privilege of handing out the wonderful Duke of Edinburgh Awards on many occasions. I am very involved with the scouts, many of whom subsequently went on to achieve the award. There was such pride and joy in the faces of the recipients, who really felt they had achieved something. Then there was his wonderful work through the World Wildlife Fund. He loved animals, and was passionate about the conservation of endangered species and the preservation of our environment long before it became a popular cause. His greatest legacy from my point of view is probably the support that he has given to our Queen. I doubt she would have been the wonderful monarch she is without the support her husband has given her over so many years.
Finally, I am drawn to two remarks made by members of the royal family following the Duke’s death. The first was from his daughter, Anne, who said:
“You know it’s going to happen but you are never really ready”,
and his daughter-in-law, the Countess of Wessex said:
“it was like someone took him by the hand and off he went”.
His spirit will live on in his children and grandchildren, who I hope will take notice of his wise counsels for the future of our monarchy. We will not see his like again. May he now rest in peace and receive his just reward.
We are not operating with time limits this afternoon—I hope we can be dignified and find that that is not necessary—but if everybody adheres to Mr Speaker’s request to speak for three minutes or less, each and every colleague who has indicated that they would like to speak will have the opportunity to do so.
It is a privilege to speak in this debate in tribute to the life of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on behalf of my constituents across East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow. They wish me to give thanks for all the service he has given so selflessly throughout his life—unstinting service to Her Majesty the Queen, his family, Scotland, the UK, the Commonwealth and internationally. So many constituents have been in touch with me to ask that I pass on their heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty the Queen. This is indeed a very deep loss, and my constituents’ thoughts are with the royal family in their grief at this most difficult time.
Many constituents have written to me fondly recalling the day they welcomed Her Majesty and Prince Philip to East Kilbride in 1962, as our new town was just established, to mark that very special occasion. Thousands of local residents waited patiently to see them as they were welcomed by Professor Browning, who was then chairman of our East Kilbride Development Corporation. Her Majesty and Prince Philip returned to visit East Kilbride 28 years later, on 12 July 1990, to officially open our town centre.
The Duke of Edinburgh was, as has been stated by so many today, a real visionary. He devoted much of his time to developing and encouraging young people, promoting their self-esteem, wellbeing and resilience through activity, achievement and camaraderie via the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, long before mental health was ever openly spoken of. This life-changing award has provided a lifelong benefit for young people’s mental and physical health, providing motivation and opportunity, and ensuring that no matter the difficulties of someone’s background there can be time and space for a young person to focus, to gain support and encouragement, and to develop their full potential. I have spent much time as a local MP visiting youth groups, speaking to the young people whose lives have been changed and their families, who have all benefited tremendously from this unique award.
The Duke of Edinburgh was extremely interested in climate initiatives, and became the first president of the World Wildlife Fund in 1961. He established the Duke of Edinburgh conservation award, and promoted conservation, helping with essential fundraising and awareness promotion. He drew attention to the plight of wildlife endangered by poaching. Today, in the midst of covid-19, we realise the absolute inspiration and strength that grows from the profound insight shown throughout his life. Prioritising people, planet and animals, His Royal Highness Prince Philip’s legacy is one that will endure and provides a vision for our future, which matters today more than ever before.
I must first send my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family from the Windsor constituency.
His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was a striking man: tall, energetic, colourful, plain-speaking and utterly dedicated to Her Majesty and his duties to the nation and the Commonwealth. His patronage was far-ranging and long-lasting, and is evident across the Windsor constituency, including parts of Bracknell Forest, Poyle, Colnbrook, Horton and Wraysbury. It seems to me, judging from my postbag and my interactions with my constituents, that most of them had a personal interaction or a story or a connection with Prince Philip.
His patronage extends far and wide, from the Duke of Edinburgh Awards to Windsor hockey club, Home Park cricket club, Windsor rugby football club, the Windsor and Eton choral society and the Windsor Forest Bowmen. Anyone who has visited the Windsor constituency will be familiar with the Great Park, where Prince Philip was the park ranger. He had an ability to put people at ease. His plain-speaking style and his sense of humour seemed to cut through discourse to ensure that people felt comfortable and connected in double-quick time.
As the MP for Windsor, I have had many opportunities to interact with Prince Philip and Her Majesty, and each occasion has been a striking moment. I will recount just two for the House. Shortly after I was first elected in 2005, I had my first engagement with Prince Philip. I was terribly nervous, and I think that he could see that. I was not quite sure what to say—I was not sure of the protocol. He walked straight over, looked me in the eye and said, “So how’s life in that madhouse?” It was so unexpected that I burst out laughing. From that moment, I realised this his plain-speaking style—that directness—was a really good technique to put people at ease. From that moment on, we conversed in a very natural way—sometimes in a very opinionated way—but it was really, really helpful.
Secondly, we have heard about many prestigious occasions and Prince Philip’s far-ranging patronage, but we should also remember that he attended many other kinds of events. We have some wonderful buildings in the Windsor constituency. Obviously, we have Windsor castle, but we also have the Grundon energy-from-waste incinerator plant. As anyone who has been past the constituency will know, the plant has this massive chimney—pumping out clean air, of course.
I was invited with the Prince to the opening of the new incinerator, and we had a fantastic tour around the premises. When it came time to say a few words, I glanced over at Prince Philip and saw a twinkle in his eye, and I knew it was going to be an interesting speech. We were presented with beautiful little glass images of the Colnbrook incinerator; they are actually quite nice. He made a lovely speech, and then he held up the little glass model and said, “When I open the curtains in the morning, the first thing I see is the Colnbrook incinerator, but now—do you know what? I won’t even need to open the curtains. I shall keep this by my bed.” It was that kind of presentational style that made him an approachable, attractive character with whom one could be at ease. He has left a huge void at the heart of the royal family, as Her Majesty has said, and a notable absence in the Windsor constituency, across the country and in the Commonwealth.
I begin by offering, on behalf of my constituents and myself, deepest sympathies to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family following their loss. It is easy to forget, but at the heart of this moment in history is a grieving family who, like so many over the past year, will not be able to say goodbye in the manner they would have wished.
The Duke of Edinburgh gave his life to service—service that extended far beyond his role as consort. He was one of the last few surviving global figures of the second world war and, as we have heard, as an officer in the Royal Navy he saw active duty at sea, from the Mediterranean to the far east. He distinguished himself and was mentioned in dispatches. Speaking six decades after the event, Harry Hargreaves, a yeoman aboard HMS Wallace, revealed how he and the ship’s crew owed their lives to Prince Philip’s quick thinking and heroics during a German bombardment in the invasion of Sicily. The medals that the Duke of Edinburgh wore from that conflict were hard earned. His passing is yet another reminder of how privileged we are that veterans from that war are still just with us today. We must cherish them while we can.
Prince Philip’s passion for the outdoors led him to establish the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. In doing so, he helped to inspire millions of young people across the world to push themselves to the limit, including me. At 18, the scheme led me on to an expedition to the Himalayas—a formative experience and one that I will never forget.
Known for his irreverent sense of humour, Prince Philip famously described himself as
“a discredited Balkan prince of no particular merit or distinction”
“the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler”.
I believe that history’s judgment will be kinder than his own. He will be remembered as an integral part of our national story, as the longest-serving consort in our history and as someone who gave unwavering and invaluable support to the Queen. Prince Philip was also a towering figure in our armed forces community and a powerful link to our past—a time when Britain relied on the bravery and sacrifice of men and women like him to drag us from the depths of despair, and to fight to secure Britain’s future. As such, his legacy will stand forever, and the country will always be grateful for his service. May he rest in peace.
I, too, am grateful for the opportunity to join others who have spoken in paying my condolences to Her Majesty and the royal family on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip. The Duke of Edinburgh arrived on these shores as a young boy lacking immediate family, having been educated initially in France in an American school before going on to Gordonstoun. Those experiences clearly shaped his determination to help other young people to develop the confidence to shape their own futures, as he had his own as a young man, through the award scheme he founded. Millions have benefited from it, as others have spoken about already today.
I would like to briefly add some reflections as a commissioner of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Duke’s wartime experience and distinguished military service gave him and others of his generation such a powerful sense of duty and of the importance of remembrance for those who served their country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. He attended many memorial and cemetery dedications and unveilings through a lifetime of service. Perhaps the most appropriate was one of the earliest, when he unveiled the second world war extension to the Chatham naval memorial in October 1952. He pointed out that like all others who had served in the Royal Navy during the war, he had lost many friends who were commemorated there.
He visited thousands of Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries on many of his 143 overseas and domestic visits. There were also the many commemorative events held during his decades of service in leading the nation as Her Majesty’s consort and in his own role, as we have just heard, across so many units of our armed services.
Wherever he went, he would show genuine interest in the smallest detail. For example, he would give tips to gardeners—often, I suspect, unsolicited—about their work and the plants they tended. He had that skill of making each person he was talking to feel as though they were the focus of his attention, often through his sharp and engaging wit and powerful observations. He helped people laugh, which broke the ice.
We have been reminded already of Prince Philip’s pioneering role in drawing attention to protecting the environment around the world. He was one of the first to speak of how humans are pushing the planet to the edge. He once said:
“We can’t make the Earth any bigger and we can’t squeeze any more out of its natural resources without changing its whole character and damaging its systems.”
He was always interested in conservation and wildlife, but his visit to the south Pacific and south Atlantic in the mid-1950s sparked his interest in the threats to nature. The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) and my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess) mentioned Prince Philip’s role helping Sir Peter Scott to establish the World Wildlife Fund. That enthusiasm never waned. He visited hundreds of WWF projects across five continents over five decades. He also used his position to promote conservation issues, inspiring people, from members of the public to world leaders, to protect nature and wildlife. That passion has clearly been passed on to his children and grandchildren.
Briefly, if I may, I will say something on behalf of my constituents who have expressed their sympathies in the last few days. Many of them saw the Duke in 2012 when, as part of the diamond jubilee tour, he accompanied Her Majesty on her tour to Shropshire. They attended a pageant at RAF Cosford, where thousands of people took part and watched the display with them. He also visited my constituency in south Shropshire in 2003 before I became the Member of Parliament. He and Her Majesty attended the Wenlock games, now widely acknowledged as the inspiration for the Olympic games, and chose rather provocatively to have lunch in Craven Arms in preference to Ludlow—the more obvious food capital of Shropshire—where they concluded their visit.
We celebrate the life of Philip and all that he has done for this country, especially because this most British of the British was actually Greek and Danish, as well as British. He certainly was connected to Britain, but Britain was also his choice. The wind did not blow him to these shores; he set a course. His were marriages of love: to England and to Elizabeth, his Queen. He served well, and will be both missed and well-remembered.
On behalf of people right across the community in Northern Ireland, my constituents in North Down and the Alliance party, I join in paying tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and in passing on our deepest sympathies and condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the wider royal family.
The Duke lived an exceptionally full life, with many interests and achievements—too many to mention, but which touched so many people in all corners of the UK, the Commonwealth and the wider world. It can be said that Prince Philip was an early product of European integration and reflected the complex intermingling of royal dynasties at that time, yet his initial years were marked with many deep challenges and uncertainties. He was a man of great ingenuity, resilience and foresight, as demonstrated by his distinguished naval career during and after the second world war and his early grasp of and deep commitment to science and engineering and to the environment and conservation issues. This powerful, agenda-setting example left a lasting legacy.
The Duke will of course be remembered in particular for his deep commitment to young people, most clearly through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. There will be many people in Northern Ireland, across many generations, who remember fondly the annual award ceremonies at Hillsborough castle, where they had the opportunity to meet the Duke and to be inspired. It is also worth referencing the joint award initiative, the Gaisce, the President of Ireland’s award, which His Royal Highness was instrumental in establishing. Young people in Northern Ireland have a choice of certification when they complete their award: the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award certificate; the Gaisce, the President’s Award certificate; or the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award certificate.
Beyond the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Prince Philip was a regular visitor to Northern Ireland, going back to the late 1940s. I am pleased to recall a number of very welcome visits to my constituency. He had a particular affinity to the Royal Ulster Yacht Club and enjoyed racing in Belfast lough. In more recent years, alongside Her Majesty the Queen, he played an instrumental role in building Anglo-Irish relations, including, notably, the historic visit to Dublin in May 2011, and then hosting the first state visit of the President of Ireland at Windsor in April 2014, almost exactly seven years ago today. With events in Ireland having brought his own close family loss, his personal leadership on reconciliation has been widely acknowledged.
The Duke’s most telling contribution was, of course, as a dutiful companion and rock for Her Majesty the Queen. In impact and duration, theirs was a partnership that had never been seen before, and one that we are unlikely to ever see again.
It is an honour to rise to pay tribute to His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. I rise with the Queen and the entire royal family obviously at the forefront of my thoughts, but also the many estate staff and estate pensioners at Balmoral and, indeed, the many more in the wider Royal Deeside community, who today mourn the passing of not only our Queen’s consort but an employer, a neighbour and a friend.
On Saturday, my wife and I climbed up to Prince Albert’s cairn, a large granite pyramid standing high above the River Dee, erected by Queen Victoria on the death of her Prince consort. From it, we looked across the Dee valley towards Crathie and its kirk, west towards Braemar and east towards Ballater. Behind us, although hidden by the giant fir trees—many of them only there due to the hard work of the Duke of Edinburgh—rose majestic Lochnagar, standing high above Glen Muick. All these were areas that his Royal Highness, through more than 70 years of regular visits, knew well and on which he left his indelible mark.
Balmoral was a place that, like Victoria and Albert, Prince Philip and the Queen loved as a private home. It was of course at Balmoral where the then Princess Elizabeth and he became engaged during the summer of 1946, and following their marriage they spent part of their honeymoon at Craigowan, on the estate. It was there that he was able to enjoy his passions—stalking, shooting, fishing, conservation; taking a keen interest in the agricultural life of the estate, especially the fold of highland cattle, and indeed improving the gardens, one of which he dug out himself with a bulldozer. The Duke was also instrumental in regenerating some of the largest areas of Caledonian pine forest left in Scotland.
Royal Deeside is a part of the world where, although proud of their links to the estate and the family, people do not shout about it; where, with typical north-east reserve, the royal family are afforded respect and allowed privacy as owners of one of the local estates, even when, as remains regularly the case, they are spotted in and around the village of Ballater. It was from Sheridan’s butchers in Ballater that the Duke would source supplies for his now-famous family barbecues, and it was not unusual for him to pop into various shops in the village just to say hello and catch up.
In saying that, when walking around the estate, if one was to see a dark green Land Rover appear over the horizon tearing towards them, they had better have their wits about them. Stories of run-ins with the Duke of Edinburgh are legend and numerous. My favourite, however, is of the occasion when the Duke, driving through the estate on a typical Aberdeenshire summer’s day—which means that the rain was horizontal, not vertical—came across a wet, bedraggled and miserable-looking group of young hikers. He rolled down his window. “What on earth are you doing up here in this weather?” he inquired. One of the lads turned around and spat out, “Our bloody Duke of Edinburgh’s Award!” The family and the estate still welcome hikers and ramblers, although course it is expected that they respect the land in return. One year, the Duke of Edinburgh, fed up with visitors tramping across the estate and not respecting the paths, stuck up signs: “Beware of the adders”. It worked.
Even at Balmoral there were, of course, occasional public engagements, and he would rarely miss the annual Braemar Gathering, an event that draws tens of thousands of visitors from around the world to the heart of my constituency each September, many there just to catch a glimpse of the royal family. For the Duke, however, as I saw with my own eyes on countless occasions, it was simply about enjoying the day and the sport.
Above all, Balmoral was a private home, somewhere he and Her Majesty the Queen could get away from the demands and pressures of public life, albeit for only a few months every year. It therefore, not surprisingly, was to Balmoral that he and the Queen returned last summer when the restrictions eased enough to allow them a break. When they departed on 16 September, the couple waved happily to photographers. Of course, that was to be his last visit to the north-east of Scotland.
The entire country is mourning the loss of the Duke of Edinburgh today, but nowhere more so than in and around the Balmoral estate and the communities on Royal Deeside. His Royal Highness was a proud naval man and a deeply spiritual man, a decorated veteran of world war two, and it was with that in mind that when writing my speech I turned to this part of the naval prayer:
“Preserve us from the dangers of the sea and of the air and from the violence of the enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, and her dominions, and a security for such as pass on the seas on their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of…our Commonwealth may in peace and quietness serve thee our God; and that we may return in safety to enjoy the blessings of the land”.
At Balmoral, in peace and safety, I know His Royal Highness did just that.
The Duke of Edinburgh was part of an extraordinary generation—the generation of my parents—that endured so much hardship during the second world war and that had an impact on our country like no other. His appreciation of the achievements of that generation and particularly its war veterans, as a war veteran himself who shared many of their experiences, never waned. I know that members of the British Legion in Eltham will feel that they have lost a comrade as much as a member of the royal family.
One of the Duke’s titles was Baron Greenwich, and through his special relationship with my borough, the Royal Borough of Greenwich, he was instrumental in bringing the Cutty Sark, which is now a major tourist attraction that benefits our borough, to Greenwich. Later on, in 2012, he assisted Greenwich in becoming a royal borough. I met him in 2003 when he came to Eltham in his capacity as president of the national playing fields charity, which has now become Fields in Trust. He was there to mark the preservation of a sports ground in Eltham. We have many open spaces that become subject to interest from would-be developers, so this issue is dear to my heart. I consistently have to defend open spaces from such would-be developers. After the formalities had finished, I was in conversation with some officials of the charity, asking some questions, and it was the Prince—I had not spotted him joining our group—who answered all my questions. I was impressed that he knew so much about the charity and felt so passionately about it, and we had a shared endeavour in trying to protect open spaces for future generations.
Yet another legacy for which he should be remembered, for which he is seldom given the appreciation he deserves, is that of being an early pioneer of wildlife conservation and recognising the importance of protecting our environment. But his greatest achievement, in my opinion—I am a former youth worker and senior play leader of an adventure playground—is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Millions of young people across more than 130 countries gain life-enhancing experiences that, in my opinion, reflect the experiences that helped to shape him in his early life and that he wanted other young people of all classes to share. It is that scheme across the world for which he will be most remembered, and what a legacy that is.
When all is said and done, the royal family is like any other family. It has lost a much-loved head of the family who led them through generations alongside the Queen, and I am grateful for this opportunity to send my deepest sympathies to the Queen and her family on behalf of my constituents at this very sad time.
Along with the British public, I felt real sadness at the passing of Prince Philip, and on behalf of my Harlow and village constituents, I send my heartfelt wishes and condolences to Her Majesty. He has been such a part of our nation’s history for so long that it is hard to imagine our national life without him. I know he has been spoken about as a father, but I see him more as a grandfather of the nation. I remember watching and talking about him and the Queen with my grandparents when I was growing up, and with my father and my own generation. With Prince Philip’s passing, the history of Britain is changing as well. It was good to read over the past few days not just about his heroic service in the second world war but about his defence of Jewish children who were being victimised by the Nazis when he attended a German school, and about how his late mother protected Jewish families.
As has been said many times during these tributes, one of the most remarkable things that Prince Philip did was to establish the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. The charity has transformed the lives of millions of individuals, and the skills that these youngsters have developed have also increased their educational attainment and job prospects, so perhaps the very best memorial we can give to Prince Philip is to rocket-boost support for the Duke of Edinburgh’s charity and do everything possible to support it.
I am proud that Prince Philip visited my constituency of Harlow in both 1952 and 1957. His first visit, in 1952, came after the post-war New Towns Act 1946, which established a number of new towns including Harlow. Following his visit, a road that runs from Harlow Mill to Harlow Town railway station was named Edinburgh Way in his honour, and I am pleased to say that it has just been widened. Further to this, in October 1957, Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made a tour around Harlow, including a visit to the market square and a factory. His early modernising spirit symbolised the modernising spirit of Harlow new town.
We now know that the funeral of Prince Philip will take place on Saturday, and I understand that the specially adapted Land Rover that his coffin with be travelling in was bought from Foley’s in Roydon, near Harlow. It seems that both early on in his time as Duke of Edinburgh and now at the very end of his life, he has maintained a proud link to our town of Harlow. May he rest in peace.
I want to join the tributes to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. His companionship and support of Queen Elizabeth throughout their lives together was extraordinary. Prince Philip gave our country distinguished service in many different roles, and today I want to pay tribute specifically to his service as the first chancellor of the University of Salford. For 24 years, from when the university received its royal charter in 1967 until he stepped down in 1991, Prince Philip served as a dedicated and active chancellor of the University of Salford, and he is the longest-serving chancellor that the university has had.
During his time as chancellor, Prince Philip took an active part in the life of the university. He was a frequent visitor to the campus and enjoyed talking to the students there. For example, in 1968, he talked to students who were disappointed with their representation on the university senate. In 1973, he discussed the anti-apartheid campaign with a group of students who were staging a demonstration. Discussing the prince’s role within the University of Salford, Professor Andy Miah, chair of science communication and future media at the university, said in 2017:
“What comes across to me was that, while figures like the Duke of Edinburgh have countless patronages and public roles, it felt like he truly cared about his contribution to our University. Salford was a place he could talk about with strong recollections and a sense of purpose about what the university could do.”
Prince Philip handed over his duties as chancellor in 1991, but he maintained a close interest in the university, with regular visits and occasional guest lectures. In 2012, Prince Philip returned to meet a new generation of students when he opened the university’s new building at MediaCity in Salford during the Queen’s diamond jubilee tour. The Queen and Prince Philip have also supported many creative projects in Salford. In 1980, Prince Philip opened Harold Riley’s famous “Salford 80” exhibition, which was described by The Sunday Times as
“the greatest photographic exhibition ever shown”
and involved 30 separate exhibitions. During another visit to Salford in 2000, the Queen and Prince Philip opened our wonderful and important arts centre and theatre The Lowry.
I send my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. I know that Prince Philip will be missed greatly. As we have heard in the House today, the Duke of Edinburgh’s lifelong commitment to public service will be remembered in so many different ways. I pay tribute to his lifetime of service to our country, and as a graduate of Salford University and a Salford MP, I thank Prince Philip for his particular dedication to both the students and the University of Salford. May he rest in peace.
Norfolk, as we know, has a special connection to the royal family through Sandringham, and my constituency is no different. Indeed, the town of Holt, where I grew up, is synonymous with the royal family, and today it is still frequented by members, who can shop peacefully away from the public eye. On behalf of my constituents, I offer our sincere condolences to the Queen and the royal family.
I want to pay tribute to the remarkable life of His Royal Highness and the quite incredible work he did through his charities and, in particular, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which he founded in 1956. The scheme is rather special to me because I am lucky enough to have gained all three awards—bronze, silver and gold—in my time at school, and as such, I had the privilege of meeting Prince Philip in around 1998, when he visited Gresham’s in Holt. Moments like that last a lifetime, and I will never forget that day. I recall my DofE master telling me that this award by viewed by universities as a fourth A-level; that was how prestigious and coveted it was. More than that, it was thanks to being part of his scheme that I had the opportunities and experiences that are probably some of my fondest memories of school.
The scheme embodied his spirit and his personality—a sense of adventure and bravery—but it is what it did for me and millions of young people around the world that is why it is so highly thought of. It instilled a sense of pride, camaraderie and confidence, equipping and empowering young people from all different backgrounds. Out of the classroom, here was a chance to learn new skills and forge new friendships, and frankly, had I not joined the scheme, I would not have had the experiences that wholeheartedly enriched my education. I cannot help thinking that the volunteering aspect—undertaking service to help others, which I enjoyed so much—subconsciously inspired me just a tiny fraction along the way to where I am today. I will never forget the residential trips or being so wet in the Lake district on my gold expedition that the teachers bought us a can of Coke and a Mars bar to give us the energy to get through the night. Without question, the Duke of Edinburgh award instilled my love of the outdoors, walking and exploring, and that has carried into my family, where this love is now shared with my children.
His Royal Highness was, above all else, a warm family man whose family meant everything to him. His marriage was sacred. For Prince Philip to have been a constant to our Queen with his devotion and support for seven decades is truly unrivalled. They often say that history repeats itself. Our last Queen’s consort was Prince Albert, when Queen Victoria was on the throne. He, too, was a great reformer and adviser who cared deeply for people and fought for better lives for so many; he, too, passed at Windsor. There was a curious parallel between him and the Duke of Edinburgh: they were both consorts to a Queen, they both passed at Windsor, and in their own way they both engaged with many subjects for the good of people and for the country that they loved.
We know that the Royal Navy sense of humour sustained His Royal Highness and carried him through some difficult times, along with duty and loyalty, which he epitomised. He was a remarkable man whose memory will not fade and who will be alive and well with many of us for years to come.
We now go, by audio link only, to Ian Paisley.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is an honour—[Interruption.]
Order. No, I am afraid that it is not going to work. We will move on, and come back to Mr Paisley when we can.
Combining his royal role with a very long life meant that Prince Philip met vast numbers of people in widely differing circumstances. One of his more unusual encounters was with two late friends of mine who were Fleet Air Arm veterans of the second world war.
On 29 January 1945, pilot Roy “Gus” Halliday and telegraphist air gunner Norman “Dickie” Richardson, together with their observer, were coaxing their crippled Grumman Avenger back to the safety of the British fleet. They had just completed the second stage of Operation Meridian, the destruction by dive-bombing of two heavily defended oil refineries at Palembang in Japanese-occupied Sumatra. The raids were extremely hazardous, but despite grievous losses they massively reduced the output of both refineries and scored a major strategic success. Prince Philip was the first lieutenant—the executive officer—of HMS Whelp, a brand-new destroyer and key component in the protective screen of the British Pacific fleet and its four carriers, from which the airstrikes had been launched.
As the Avenger ditched and went under, the Whelp raced to the rescue. In the nick of time, all three aircrew were plucked from their leaking life raft in heaving waters, freshly kitted out and given every support after their perilous ordeal. It was only gradually, on the return journey, that they realised the special status of their principal saviour.
In 2006, the BBC’s Siân Price reunited Gus Halliday DSC and Dickie Richardson DSM with the officer who saved their lives and who, after doing so, introduced himself simply as “Lieutenant Philip”. The programme, entitled “A Right Royal Rescue”, is still accessible online; I commend it to colleagues and to the public as a touching memento of three very brave men and as a reminder of the spirit of a great generation.
Like countless other parliamentarians, I saw Prince Philip in action on visits to my constituency and to other constituencies close to the New Forest. Such visits were greatly valued, but I felt rather underqualified to add to what has so ably been reported in the media by royal correspondents and by others who really knew him. However, my doubts were dispelled by someone fully qualified to comment on the royal family: our splendid former colleague Sir Nicholas Soames, who served both as armed forces Minister and as shadow Defence Secretary at the head of a happy team that included me. He explained that
“the whole nature of Prince Philip’s career and his devotion to Queen and Country was fashioned in his wartime training and service in the Royal Navy”.
Because of that, it seemed fitting to share with the House today this cameo of Prince Philip’s gallantry and humanity in combat, as well as expressing the sympathy of the people of New Forest East and of New Forest West with Her Majesty the Queen and all members of her family.
Madam Deputy Speaker,
“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room.”
So preached Henry Scott Holland, Regius Professor of Divinity, at St Paul’s Cathedral in May 1910, following the death of Edward VII, whose body lay in Westminster Hall—the first monarch ever to lie in state in this Palace. I always railed against those words when I was a curate conducting funerals in High Wycombe, because I found them too lazy, too immediately, conveniently consoling. I preferred the brutal truth of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer:
“Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live…In the midst of life we are in death”.
That seemed, and still seems, more honest. In the setting by Purcell for Queen Mary’s funeral in 1695, those words of Cranmer’s appear so stark, so bleak, so pared down. They seem to render a general truth about life.
Some suggest, unthinkingly perhaps, that there is less to grieve about after a long life—more than threescore years and ten. I disagree profoundly. Yes, 99 years is a long time, but even that feels short when your other half is gone. Such was Prince Philip’s vigorous embrace of life, both in fighting Nazism and after he had faced several life-threatening conditions, that I suspect he perhaps had more time for the words of Dylan Thomas:
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day”.
I have no great anecdotes about Prince Philip. I never did the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award—I am feeling rather left out. I did dance the Highland fling for him in Stirling castle when I was very young, and he teased me relentlessly when he came to Treorchy in 2002. Some have their memorials in stone, in works of art, or in great literature they have written. No doubt there will be similar memorials to Prince Philip: after all, there are already thousands of plaques all over this nation and the Commonwealth that bear his name. He even gave the Rhondda Borough Council its royal charter in 1955, and went down Fernhill colliery afterwards—rather bravely, in a white coat. Others have spoken of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which is a phenomenal achievement, but perhaps we should determine to invest far more in our youth services, especially in our most deprived communities, as a further legacy to him.
However, Prince Philip’s greatest memorial is a relationship: a single, singular, special royal relationship spanning decades, its every twist and turn played out in public. Few of us can genuinely imagine what studied torment that involved: to fall in love in public, to marry in public, to row in public, and to grieve in public; to have every glance and gesture viewed and reviewed by millions, and then played out in some television drama. To keep one’s counsel, year after year, in such circumstances is to lay down one’s life in the line of duty.
I do not know what he would have made of today. He would have probably said, “What a load of nonsense. Shut up, man.” He did not care for sycophancy, and I am not sure that he was all that much of a fan of people wearing their hearts on their sleeves. However, there is perhaps one consolation at moments such as these: the words of Scott Holland again, from 1910:
“the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.”
I, like so many others today and many thousands in my constituency in the Rhondda, wish Her Majesty every consolation. Whatever they were to each other, that they are still: a fixed point in an ever-changing world.
When we die, we live on in the memories of those who knew and loved us, and through the effect that we had on the people in our community. I pay tribute to a man who dedicated his long life to public service and provided a huge inspiration for millions of people across our country. We have heard many remarkable stories about the life of Prince Philip, and we will continue to hear them in the coming days and weeks as all those who have been inspired by him take time to reflect on his achievements.
As a girl growing up in Middlesbrough, I would not have expected to have much in common with royalty. However, I moved from my local comprehensive school to Gordonstoun on an academic scholarship, so I was fortunate enough to receive the benefit of some of the very same education that Prince Philip enjoyed. As one of Gordonstoun’s first ever pupils, Prince Philip remained in contact with the current principal and was supportive of the school’s distinctive education, which focuses on character-building activities and involves everybody in community service. I have wonderful memories of beautiful Scottish countryside expeditions, being in the mountain rescue service and contributing through it to saving lives. I have hair-raising memories, too, of an episode of hypothermia and of a chap falling on me at abseiling practice; these are held with fondness too.
Inspired by his education, and keen to see as many youngsters as possible benefit from those sorts of activities, in 1956 Prince Philip developed the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Since then, more than 3 million young people in the UK have successfully taken part in expeditions and have given service to others through the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which is now offered in more than 140 countries worldwide.
I was also fortunate enough to meet the Duke on a few occasions, including when I received my own gold Duke of Edinburgh Award at Holyrood. I recall His Royal Highness putting everyone at ease with his usual jokes and amusing us with the way that, despite the fact that there was no rain forecast, he was holding a very tall umbrella and swinging it around in his hands.
The loss of Prince Philip is a sad moment in our nation’s history, and I wish to express my sincere condolences and those of the people of Sleaford and North Hykeham to his wife, the Queen, and all his family, who have not only lost an international source of inspiration but a cornerstone of their lives. Although the Duke of Edinburgh has now sadly died, he will live on through all those he has inspired and all those his work will continue to inspire, particularly through his legacy, the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
We now go, or I hope we do, to Ian Paisley—[Interruption.] We will try yet again later to contact Mr Paisley. Meanwhile, I call Tobias Elwood.
I welcome this exceptional recall of Parliament to pay tribute to the life and service of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, which reflects the very British bond between the monarchy, the Government, Parliament and the British people, whom we all represent and, indeed, serve. His passing has shone a spotlight on the British monarchy—arguably the most recognised and respected royal family in the world. Both domestically and internationally, they help define who we are as a nation and how we are perceived across the world. They are a welcome constant amid the flux and turmoil of politics. Many in this House and beyond have paid tribute to the sheer diversity and breadth of the ways in which Prince Philip touched people’s lives.
It is Prince Philip’s support for the armed forces that I would like to focus on today. The military has an affinity with our royal family. Governments may send people to war and into harm’s way, but they fight for Queen and country. The Duke acknowledged early on that there is no modern playbook outlining the duties of the Queen’s consort in modern times, so he had to design his own. Given his background, it is perhaps no surprise that he invested significant time in supporting the British armed forces. Prince Philip was an exemplar of that wartime generation who stepped forward to do their duty. He joined the Royal Navy at the age of 18, excelled at Dartmouth Naval College, and served with distinction in the European and Pacific theatres of operations.
After marriage to the Queen, Prince Philip was obliged to step back from his regular naval service, but then developed a close relationship with all three services, as Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal of the British Army and Marshal of the Royal Air Force, and by assuming active honorary duties with dozens of units in the Royal Navy, the Army and the RAF. That enabled him to stay close to and support the military fraternity, which he so loved. He was a continual inspiration across the ranks with respect to what it means to serve your country.
Prince Philip was Colonel-in-Chief of my own regiment, the Rifles, and that relationship was established before the infantry regiment amalgamations back in 1953. Indeed, his very last public engagement was in July 2020 when he handed over his honorary duties to the Duchess of Cornwall. The event took place at Windsor, where the Prince took the salute and the buglers sounded the Rifles’ assembly call, which signals the arrival of a senior Rifleman. The ceremony ended with the buglers’ No More Parades call, marking the Duke’s final ceremony as Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles. That would also be his final public appearance. In keeping with the Duke’s spirit and reputation, the formality of the event was lifted when he broke protocol to take time out to chat with the buglers and thank them for their efforts.
Today, Parliament joins Her Majesty the Queen, her family and the nation in saluting His Royal Highness Prince Philip and expressing our heartfelt sorrow over the loss of a truly exceptional man who devoted his life to Queen and country.
There is one other person in this place who attended that school, Gordonstoun, and that is me. When I was at Gordonstoun, I knew that the Duke of Edinburgh took a huge interest in the school, and the pupils and staff were grateful for that, but as others have said, he continued to take a great interest in subsequent years. Indeed, just a few days ago, he sent a message to the school, which is pretty remarkable.
Last summer, the pupils of the school made the Duke some apple juice from trees that he would have known on the south lawn at Gordonstoun. They sent that and some honey to Balmoral for his breakfast. Almost by return of post, a reply came from him saying that they had had the delicious honey and apple juice at breakfast.
Why did Prince Philip take such an interest? As others have said, his life was rackety before he went to Gordonstoun. His family got him out of Germany, probably for his own safety, because, I am told, he laughed at Nazis when they gave the Nazi salute. Gordonstoun gave him stability, order and structure, and I would go so far as to say, knowing the school as I do, that it made Prince Philip. As others have said, he became head boy; he became the guardian. Being the guardian at Gordonstoun, I would humbly submit, is not the same as being head boy or head girl of another school because that position carries a great deal of responsibility. I think that experience is part of what made Prince Philip.
To change the tone of what I am saying, I want to touch on the rug. My wife and I, and our elder daughter, who was then 16, attended Her Majesty’s first reception when the Scottish Parliament was opened in 1999. Having been presented to the Queen, my wife, who was in a wheelchair then, was tired. We went to take her quietly out of the party, but got lost in the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Worse, the wheelchair got tangled up with a rug. To my horror, despite the fact that we had gone to the same school, who should come round the corner but Prince Philip. “Ah, those bloody rugs,” he said. He got down on his knees and helped us to disentangle the rug and the wheelchair. He said, “Tell you what. I know a quick way out of here. There is a lift that the public don’t really know about.” What an act of kindness. I was reminded of it by my daughter just yesterday. That sort of thing stays with you forever.
This is my last point because I have spoken enough. We have a thing called a Scottish election on at the moment, up where I live in the far north of Scotland, but the instant we heard of the Duke’s death, quite rightly it was stopped right away. Since then, over the weekend, I have had innumerable people from Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross saying, “Can you pass on our condolences to the Queen?” We have all been bereaved—I have lost both my parents—but, as the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) said, when someone is bereaved and in distress, the sympathy of others can be the balm, the milk of human kindness, that gets them through. I hope that Her Majesty and the royal family know that even in the far, far north of the British mainland, there are thousands of people who extend their deepest sympathy.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone), and indeed the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant).
This amazing man was the Colonel of my old regiment, the Grenadier Guards, for 42 years, and I spent this morning on the phone to many people who knew him throughout that time. The overwhelming message was, “He was simply one of us in the regiment, and everyone knew that from the guardsmen up.” There are also a number of stories that, unlike the Prime Minister, I unfortunately do not have the social confidence to retell here. I first met the Duke of Edinburgh when I was a nervous young Sandhurst cadet, and he invited the officers who were joining the regiment up for a drink in a little sitting room in Buckingham Palace. He visited the regiment when it was on operational tours in Northern Ireland, and before and after deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia. Indeed, one friend of mine told of how, at a patrol base in Northern Ireland, this young officer had a room next to the Duke, who stayed for the night. My friend lent Prince Philip a towel, and he could not help noticing when Prince Philip had gone, that he had folded up my friend’s towel and put it back in his room.
As someone who had been at the sharp end in world war two—we will hear more about that in a few minutes from my right hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart)—the Duke of Edinburgh understood the ghastliness of war and the suffering that tends to follow it. After one particularly unpleasant incident in Northern Ireland when three soldiers were seriously hurt, he gave them all jobs in his household. Two decades later, seeing the need for additional support for the large numbers of grenadiers being killed and injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, he started the Colonel’s Fund to support injured soldiers and bereaved families.
As we all know, MPs and peers occasionally get invited to meet the royal family, and I remember one time that I was talking to Prince Philip, and showing off my huge knowledge—not—of Afghan tribal politics. I could not believe it when he said, “No, Adam, you are completely forgetting the significance of the northern Pashtuns in the Afghan national army.” Those who know about Afghanistan, including hon. Members here, will appreciate that that is a nuanced point, and it is amazing that the Duke of Edinburgh was across Afghan tribal politics in quite such detail.
Along with General Webb-Carter, Prince Philip was the driving force in getting more soldiers from ethnic minorities into the Household division. He came from good stock. This morning, I learned from a Jewish friend of mine that in the second world war, when the Nazis started shipping Jews out from Athens in 1942, his mother hid the Cohen family for nearly a year, despite the fact that her small flat was pretty much next door to the Gestapo headquarters. Her body now rests on the Mount of Olives, and she is honoured as Righteous Among the Nations.
Prince Philip honoured and served this nation with a stunning contribution for more than eight decades. Generations of grenadiers and the people of my constituency salute and thank him, and we send our good wishes and sympathy to his family, and to Her Majesty the Queen.
Tributes to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh have flooded in from around the world, but for the next two minutes I want to share the tributes from the small corner of Lancashire that I have the privilege to represent in the House.
The Queen is the Duke of Lancaster, so there is a strong sense of connection between many of my Lancashire constituents and the royal family. Many will have seen the Duke, along with the Queen, on many royal visits, including, most recently, to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the Duchy of Lancaster. The Duke made many visits to Lancashire during his long life, but few were as memorable as his carriage ride across Morecambe Bay. On May Day in 1985, he crossed the treacherous bay at low tide accompanied by Cedric Robinson, the Queen’s Guide to the Sands. He crossed from Silverdale to Kent’s Bank with a team of horses—the first time that that had happened for 130 years. More recently, the Duke, alongside the Queen, visited Fleetwood in 1994 for Rossall School’s 150th birthday celebration. Those memories are a treasured and lasting gift to all our community.
Across Lancaster and Fleetwood today, flags are flying at half-mast, including above our civic buildings and, of course, above Lancaster castle. In our schools and youth centres, there will be a lasting legacy too. The Duke made a tremendous contribution to our communities through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, which provides vital opportunities to young people across Lancashire. It offered me, like so many young people, opportunities to give service to my community, learn new skills and build lasting friendships. I hope that this legacy supports generations of young people to come.
The Duke of Edinburgh served this country with dignity for almost 70 years, alongside and supporting Her Majesty the Queen. At this difficult time, we offer our thoughts and prayers that she will find God’s comfort and strength in the times to come. On behalf of my constituents, I pay tribute to a remarkable man who supported Her Majesty as her husband, as her consort and as the Duke of Edinburgh for longer than the vast majority of my constituents have been alive. He truly gave a lifetime of service to our nation, and it is clear from the tributes that the nation is coming together now to mourn his loss and celebrate his extraordinary life.
It is a privilege to be called in this sitting. So rich was the life of the Duke of Edinburgh that we are able to spend hours discussing his military service, his sporting achievements and, above all, his role as
“liege man of life and limb”
for over 73 years to Her Majesty the Queen. However, I will focus briefly on his role as a champion for nature—something I was fortunate enough to see at first hand in my few years working in the royal household when I was researcher to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
In this place, we speak of climate change and sustainability almost daily, and we do that because of campaigners such as the Prince of Wales and, before him, the Duke of Edinburgh. Long before it was trendy or indeed popular, the Duke was a passionate advocate for nature, involving himself with the World Wildlife Fund from its very inception. He travelled the world, drawing attention to poaching, deforestation and pollution. I believe that the prominence of environmental issues in our political discourse is not only entirely appropriate but entirely due to the efforts of groundbreaking leaders such as the Duke of Edinburgh. As saddened as I am by His Royal Highness’s death, I know that so many are comforted by the fact that that work has been so passionately continued by his son, the Prince of Wales, and by his grandson.
If I may, I would like to speak for one group of individuals who will mourn the Duke’s death intensely—his staff. Over the weekend, I spoke with some friends from the household, and I would like to mention some of their memories of the Duke. Prince Philip had a small but famously efficient team. One of them was my friend Katherine. Katherine and her colleagues were devoted to the Duke because of, in her words,
“his dedication, determination and his ceaseless drive.”
The Duke was unfailingly kind and encouraging to all of us who worked in the royal household, but he had high standards—having worked for his son, the Prince of Wales, I can say that the apple does not fall far from the tree in that regard. Another friend who served as one of the Duke’s protection officers told me that, over the years, he had had “so many rollockings” from the Duke of Edinburgh and that each and every one “was a privilege.” The Duke was quite simply adored by his staff, and I think of all of them as they grieve for their beloved boss.
Everyone in Brecon and Radnorshire mourns the Duke’s passing—from those who saw him on his visits to Gwernyfed, to Dolau, to Glanusk, or to the Royal Welsh Show, to those who bounded through the Brecon Beacons in pursuit of their Duke of Edinburgh Award. His was a life incredibly well lived, and while I send my heartfelt condolences to the Queen, I give thanks that his spirit and his talents live on in his family and in the billions of people around the world whom he inspired.
This is a solemn occasion during what is a very sad time in the life of our nation. The deep sense of loss is felt in every corner of this United Kingdom, in the Commonwealth and right across the world, reflecting the high esteem and great affection in which the Duke of Edinburgh was held and will always be held. However, no greater grief and sorrow will be felt than that by Her Majesty the Queen, as 78 years of companionship, comfort, and unfailing love and support come to an earthly end. I know that with her own personal faith in the great comforter, the Lord Jesus Christ, Her Majesty will find great strength and solace in these days and those that lie ahead.
This is also a day to celebrate the life of an extraordinary man, to celebrate a remarkable marriage, and to celebrate the love and support of a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a friend. This is also a day to celebrate a life of service, whether that be through his duties as a consort or through the bravery and heroism he showed in service of this nation in world war two. It is also a day to celebrate his legacy in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and the transformative impact that that has had on so many lives; and to celebrate his zest for life and, as has so often been referred to, that twinkle in his eye—his sense of fun.
The life of this remarkable man, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will never be seen again. On behalf of my constituents in Upper Bann, I express the utmost appreciation for his life of service, of love and of loyalty and express my sincerest sympathies to Her Majesty the Queen and the entire royal family. Our prayer remains: God save the Queen.
On my behalf and that of my constituents in Preseli Pembrokeshire, I would like to place on record our deep admiration and gratitude for the extraordinary life of the Duke of Edinburgh and send our condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family.
The fact that so many people from so many different walks of life and in so many different parts of the country have, over the past few days, been able to talk about the occasions when they met the Duke in person speaks volumes about the sheer quantity of activity and public engagements that he undertook as he served our nation with vigour and energy over 70 years. The remarkable connections that he formed with people on these visits flowed from his unique spirit, character and personality. His amazing recall of events and individuals reflected the genuine interest that he took in people—in all people—regardless of their background, their status or their wealth.
The Duke was loved and admired all across Wales where he helped to create so many special memories on his numerous visits at the side of Her Majesty the Queen—whether it was his regular attendance at the opening Sessions of the Senedd in Cardiff; or speaking with the devastated community of Aberfan following the appalling disaster there in 1966; or returning to the Butlin’s holiday camp in Pwllheli in north Wales where he had been billeted during the war after it had been taken over by the Navy.
His visits to Wales were always valued enormously. Here in Pembrokeshire, we appreciated especially those trips he made into the far west of Wales, most recently in April 2014 when he and Her Majesty the Queen visited businesses and charities in my constituency, and the visit that they made to Haverfordwest in 1977 on the silver jubilee tour, which was one of my earliest memories, when I stood excitedly with the other small children of the town waving our Union Jacks as we tried to get a fleeting glimpse of the royal couple.
The impressions I formed of the Duke over the years were of a man of incredible intelligence, humour and interest. These impressions were all confirmed on the occasions I met him as Secretary of State for Wales or in my constituency role. His Royal Highness Prince Philip was indeed a remarkable and impressive man. The legacy he leaves in the life of this nation will burn brightly for many, many years to come. May he rest in peace.
There are many reasons why I am very keen to participate in today’s memorial debate. First, obviously, I want to play my part in celebrating the life of Prince Philip. On behalf of all residents across the community of Hove and Portslade, I also want to express the deep gratitude for his service and to pass on the very best wishes to Her Majesty the Queen.
Also, I have a personal, family reason why I very much want to be here. For the first time in the five years that I have been a Member of this House, my father called me this weekend and said, “Peter, I expect to see you in the House on Monday speaking.” My dad served in the Royal Navy in the 1960s, in the Fleet Air Arm as a mechanic, and his words mean a great deal, because he respected hugely the figure of Prince Philip. As a member of the armed forces parliamentary scheme, I speak to many senior officers in the Navy and have consistently heard the respect of senior officers. But the reason I wanted to mention my dad is that he served, in his words, several decks down, and his gratitude and respect for Prince Philip was equal to that of any other person who has served in our military.
We have only to look at the core values of the Royal Navy to understand why. Those core values are: commitment, courage, discipline, respect, integrity and loyalty. Prince Philip embodied those values. Whereas all people who serve in the military and our Parliament have deep, enduring respect for the royal family, it is understandable, when we consider the core values of the Royal Navy, why people who serve have a particular connection with Prince Philip.
Prince Philip also served our communities down in Sussex for an extraordinary period of time. He first visited Sussex on an official engagement in 1953, the year of the coronation and almost 20 years before I was born. He had been serving our community down there for almost two decades before I was even born. He visited most recently just five years ago, well into his 90s, when he opened the i360 visitor attraction. On the way in, he spotted a seven-year-old girl and went straight over to speak to her. An hour later, coming out, he went straight over to the same girl, remembered her name and spoke about what he had seen and learnt at the attraction. Back in the 1950s, he visited our community to inspect the sea cadets. His service was long, enduring and very well respected.
I will finish, as so many colleagues have finished, by sharing a personal anecdote, because The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was the only member of the royal family I have ever met and had a conversation with. It was when I was in a previous job, working at ACEVO, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, and had been invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the work of the voluntary sector. As the members of my organisation were there, they should obviously have been front and centre, so I stood by the door at the back and watched as Prince Philip walked around the room. I saw the intensity with which he had conversations and the humour that he often brought to them, because laughter followed him around the room.
Finally, Prince Philip walked up to the group I was in and immediately launched into a conversation of extraordinary detail about the running of charities and their challenges, but about their potential into the future. He was rooted in the future—bearing in mind that that was a decade ago, when he was well into his 80s. It was very obvious that he spoke with experience of setting up and running charities, which is why he understood, in such detail, the potential of the voluntary sector.
At the end of the conversation, without taking a breath, he pointed to me and asked, “That thing on your chin—is it coming or going?” At the time, I was making a rather pathetic attempt at growing a beard. Everyone in the group starting laughing, none more so than the Duke himself—he actually brought tears to his own eyes. It was genuinely a great moment, because he ended the conversation on a note of humour. He then bid us farewell and walked out the door. I could not help looking over a moment later, to see him walking down a very long corridor on his own, his shoulders still shaking with laughter at the joke he had told. That memory has lasted more than a decade, and I think it sums up the character with which he served our country.
I am going to carry on right where the hon. Member for Hove (Peter Kyle) left off, because there is a reason why His Royal Highness The Prince Philip was popular with the military, and that is for any of us who have sat at the top table at a military dinner and wished that we were down with our mates in the cheap seats, with the cheap wine: he brought life to the dinner and made the whole thing rather more fun than it would otherwise have been. I am going to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Adam Holloway) in not telling the stories that His Royal Highness told, because I think they would make Hansard blush.
Although His Royal Highness gave entertainment to the wardroom, and indeed to the mess table, he was also a very diligent Colonel—and I speak, although I am one of two here, on behalf of the Intelligence Corps, whose royal Colonel he was. He was always very astute in keeping an eye on what the Corps was up to, and asking us in great detail what we were doing. One colleague once asked him why we were not the royal Intelligence Corps. His answer was quite simple: “Because you bastards aren’t gentlemen.” I thought it was entirely fair.
The chances that he had in his early life to go awry, to become a wastrel, or a gambling prince in Monaco, or something similar, were huge. Instead, we saw a life of service and of duty. That is quite something.
When I go around the world, in person or now on video, one of the things that strikes me is how many people remember visits by our royal family. Today, although we are of course remembering the Duke of Edinburgh, I wish to pay tribute to the whole family that he led, and to say thank you to all of them. I have been to schools in Pakistan and to sites in Chile that have a plaque with his name on it, or that of another member of the royal family. That connection is an integral part of our country’s strength in bringing people together and promoting the values that we so champion.
We often celebrate our Foreign Office and praise the work of our diplomats, but today I would like to praise the work of one diplomat who has finally left service, but not until he really had done his duty. He exemplified an entire generation and an entire ethos, and for that I am eternally grateful. I offer my best wishes and condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the entire family.
As the Member of Parliament for Swansea East and as deputy leader of the Welsh Labour party, I would like to join others in paying tribute today to the Duke of Edinburgh, on behalf of my constituents and the Welsh Labour party.
While as a nation we mourn the passing of a man who devoted his life to public service, first and foremost we offer our deepest sympathies to the Queen and the royal family as they grieve the loss of a much-loved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. In almost 70 years as royal consort, Prince Philip was loved and respected across Wales, and he played a huge part in our nation’s history, in times of triumph and times of tragedy. He opened and presided over the Commonwealth games in Cardiff in 1958 and, just a few years later, he was the first member of the royal family to visit Aberfan, arriving just hours after the disastrous landslide that killed 144 adults and children in 1966. In the years since then, he has dutifully joined the Queen on official tours of and visits to Wales, and indeed to the Senedd, earning him the love and respect of people across Wales.
However, Prince Philip’s greatest legacy will undoubtedly be the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which have given young people life experiences they may never otherwise have had. I know that in Swansea East and across Wales the difference these awards have made to the lives of youngsters from working-class backgrounds is phenomenal —not just for the range of activities and adventures they have enjoyed, but for the personal accomplishments, the skills that they have learned, the confidence they have gained and the futures that have been shaped from these experiences.
A life of almost 100 years should always be celebrated, but even more so when most of those years have been dedicated to serving the country, so today we honour a man who did just that. We thank him for the positive impact he made on so many lives, praise him for his tireless and continuous dedication to our nation, and join the Queen and the whole of the royal family in mourning his passing. May he now rest in eternal peace.
I first met Prince Philip over 40 years ago, when I was a young councillor. He came to County Hall, and of course one was shy and did not really know what to say, so I said to him quite proudly, “Sir, you might know my father: he’s the clerk of the Privy Council.” I was expecting some conventional remark, which by now would have been completely forgotten, but quick as a flash, he said, “The Privy Council—what a boring and pointless institution! Thank God the meetings do not go on too long.” Of course, in all those comments he actually showed how astute he was. Queen Victoria ensured that the meetings of the Privy Council were so boring and so long that ever since then Privy Counsellors have been forced to conduct the meetings standing up, which makes them very short, although I can say from my personal experience that the Queen concentrates all the time, wedded as she is to her duty.
I met the Duke on other occasions of course, but I remember once when we were all invited to Buckingham Palace, and of course I was late, unfortunately—typical— and a presence emerged behind me, and it was the Duke. He made it quite clear that he had noticed that my wife and I were late, and we got a right good ticking off, and then we had a fantastic conversation.
I think it is a marvellous aspect of the man that so many people in this debate have said that they met him. We all know that receiving lines, whether as a member of the chain gang, the local Member of Parliament or visiting royalty, can be quite a trial—let us be honest about it—with the small talk, but he had this amazing knack of putting everybody at ease with a joke and getting really to the heart of matters. In a world of increasingly anaemic politics and conversation of many public figures, I like to think of him as the patron saint of a sort of lack of political correctness—of speaking your mind—and I think that is terribly important.
I think it is particularly important to remember the Duke as a patron saint of all those who are forced in life to do what they do not really want to do, which is to perform a subordinate role and always be walking behind the person who is more important. The fact that he did this for decades is a staggering compliment to him, especially as it was not easy for such a man of action.
I like to think of Prince Philip as a patron saint of perseverance. One of the biggest challenges we face in our country is that of marital breakdown. We know that we cannot turn a spotlight on other people’s marriages. We know that marriage is difficult and has many challenges, but imagine being in a marriage where the spotlight is always on you and having to sustain that. That can only be sustained out of love. What a tremendous example the Duke of Edinburgh is to families up and down the country. I therefore like to think of him as a patron saint of perseverance.
I remember when the Duke came to Lincoln as a very old man to open the frieze on the front of the cathedral. I was struck not so much by what he said, but by the fact that here was a man well into his 80s, even into his 90s, still carrying on. All over the western world, there is a cult of youth and older people are shoved aside and expected to be certainly not heard and perhaps not even seen, but here was a man who kept going well into his 90s. That is such an inspiration for so many older people.
I want to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh as a man of the countryside and as a man of deep faith. That is summed up by something that he wrote:
“If God is in nature, nature itself becomes divine, and from that point it becomes reasonable to argue that reverence for God and nature implies a responsibility not to harm it, not just for our own selfish interests, but also as a duty to the creator.”
He was a very great man and a deep thinker. We will always miss him and today we salute him.
It is a sad privilege to be here today to pay tribute on behalf of my constituents in Edinburgh West, the city whose name His Royal Highness Prince Philip—Duke of Edinburgh—carried with such great aplomb across the globe.
We have heard so many touching tributes today and over the weekend to someone whose contribution to life in this country is unmeasurable and will perhaps be unmatched. It is difficult to know where to begin—which aspect of this extraordinary life to turn to first—but there is one part that surely all of us in public life must take as an example. Surely what drives us all is the desire to make a difference and improve lives. In establishing the Duke of Edinburgh Award, His Royal Highness took the opportunity to do just that. Millions of young people—several generations across the globe—have had their lives enriched by the experience it offers.
In my household, I was often envious of my late husband and my daughter, both of whom had taken part in the scheme. As my daughter embarked on a journey, I listened as they shared anecdotes. When my daughter laughed with her friends, remembering their expedition, I could see how much they had all gained, and how their lives had been enriched and their attitudes shaped.
That is true not just of the award scheme, but in Prince Philip’s early championing of conservation and nature. His work in that area was part of laying the foundation of so much of what we strive to do today—what will be discussed in and the aim of COP26. When future generations review the past century in this country’s history, I hope they will recognise how remarkable it has been to have an individual who left such an indelible imprint on national life, was influential on the international stage in shaping our respect for the environment, and was such a positive influence on so many individual young lives. In my previous career as a journalist, I saw at first hand on many occasions the ease with which Prince Philip communicated, connected with people and left them smiling.
Like everyone here today, my deepest sympathy and condolences and those of my constituents are with Her Majesty the Queen and the entire royal family in their loss. I hope that they have found comfort in hearing in what high and widespread regard Prince Philip was held and the admiration for what he achieved in an extraordinary life supremely well lived.
We have all heard that Prince Philip served in the Royal Navy in the second world war, but I want to concentrate on his naval service and his courage. In 1941 at the battle of Matapan, on board HMS Valiant, he was the guy who held the searchlight that illuminated an Italian cruiser. He stayed there and kept the searchlight on the cruiser despite the fact that cannon shells were landing all around him and causing destruction. Not only did he illuminate that cruiser, but he identified another one, and the captain said afterwards that thanks to Prince Philip, two 8-inch Italian cruisers were sunk within five minutes. My God! What cold courage to stay there when he clearly understood that he was being targeted by the enemy; it was pinpoint targeting, because they just had to fire at the source of the light. That man, our prince, had serious guts—I use a word that he might have used—and I admire him utterly.
We have heard that Prince Philip was in Tokyo bay on 2 September 1945 on board HMS Whelp, and he witnessed at some distance the surrender of the Japanese on USS Missouri. What is not so obvious is that he witnessed naval officers returning to the Royal Navy in Tokyo bay. These men were wrecks of themselves, shrivelled up and as thin as can be. They were taken to the wardroom, sat down and given some food. Then two of them suddenly realised where they were—back home in the Royal Navy. The Duke said that tears started coursing down the cheeks of those two officers, and everyone else who was there started blubbing.
Well, Your Royal Highness, if you can hear us—and I hope you can—one heck of a lot of people in this country are blubbing for you, particularly in my constituency of Beckenham. It is not just Her Majesty the Queen, who must be devastated. God bless Her Majesty, and I hope that somehow this debate will help her in her grief. My goodness, I have the deepest respect for the Duke of Edinburgh and, of course, for Her Majesty. God save the Queen.
It is appropriate that I follow my friend the right hon. and gallant Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart), because I wish to start my tribute by paying tribute to His Royal Highness’s military service, as my friend the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has just done.
Like so many of his generation, His Royal Highness signed up to defend the cause of civilisation against fascism during what was this nation’s darkest hour, without knowing what the outcome would be. I will never pass over the chance to offer my thanks for that service to His Royal Highness and to the whole wartime generation, to which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has just referred and of which he was such a wonderful personification. As that generation dwindle in number during their twilight years, they shall never dwindle in our memories or in our thanks.
We have heard today about the Duke’s humour—the non-beard on the chin of my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Peter Kyle) was one example—and we have heard about his directness from the right hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) and the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat). Similar examples have been described from time to time as so-called “gaffes”. I would like to recount a story that my predecessor as MP for Chester, Gyles Brandreth, told the BBC on Friday in remembering the Duke, who was his friend. Gyles explained that the Duke often felt frustration, or indeed upset, at being described as making these supposed gaffes; as we have heard, he would enter a room solely with the intention of putting everyone at their ease with a joke and showing an interest in everyone, and sometimes he got it wrong. Well, sometimes I have got it wrong—I have said things and asked myself afterwards, “Why on earth did I say that?” Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. His intentions were good; that is what we need to remember.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme remains a triumph and gives young people the opportunity to experience aspects of life that they would never otherwise see. It teaches teamwork, discipline, perseverance and the importance of community service. It gives confidence, self-belief and a sense of achievement—all values that we should cherish and all values that make a difference. Long may that scheme flourish in his memory.
We have been discussing among ourselves over the weekend and in the Tea Room the contribution that His Royal Highness has made individually and collectively. My hon. Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra), who cannot be in the Chamber today, asked me to mention the impact that the Duke of Edinburgh’s scheme has had on the confidence of young people from poorer backgrounds in her constituency and the sense of grief that is shared across the community for an exceptional man who gave so much and never sought credit for all the lives that he positively changed.
That is reflected in my constituency. The people of Chester have been remembering the Duke over the weekend. On Facebook, we saw fantastic photos from 1953 of when he came to open Coronation playing fields, not far from where I live. I know how grateful Chester zoo has been over the years for the duke’s support and his promotion of conservation and the work of the zoo on the global stage. The high-profile support that the duke gave to the zoo’s work added credibility and got it noticed. As we have heard, he was years ahead of his time and, frankly, years ahead of the rest of us in his dedication to preserving the natural world.
Finally, I wish to focus on the constancy that he has given to the Queen, the nation, the Commonwealth and the world. Seventy-three years of marriage is a lifetime, but it is hard to visualise what 73 years means, so consider this, Madam Deputy Speaker. Her Majesty married Prince Philip in 1947 and ascended the throne in 1952. In other words, they had already been married for 16 years by the time the Beatles released “Please Please Me” and for over 20 years when Armstrong and Aldrin first walked on the moon. Think of all the history that has flowed down the river of life in those 73 years, the massive cultural change and the political change across the globe and here in this Chamber—not only the representation of the people within it but its physical form—since the time of Attlee and Churchill. During all that change and during the entire lives of most of the population of the UK, there have been but two constants: our Queen on the throne, providing an anchor of certainty and a rock of dependability for the nation to rally around, and His Royal Highness Prince Philip by her side, offering the same foundation of certainty and reliability to her and to us all as everything around us changed, often at breakneck pace.
There is a phrase in English derived from cricket, which we know the Duke loved: “He had a good innings.” At 99 years old, he did have a good innings in the sense of a long life, but his innings was much more than that. We can be clear—and with each tribute made in this House and across the country, we learn more—that his was a life of quality, service, loyalty, dignity, humour and innovation. On behalf of my constituents in Chester, I send my condolences to Her Majesty and all the royal family for their personal loss, but I also send my thanks for Prince Philip and for a life of service well lived. It is an example we can all aspire to.
I join Members on both sides of the House in giving thanks for the life and service of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip was a man who dedicated his entire life to duty—duty to his wife, Her Majesty the Queen; duty to his country; and duty to all nations of the Commonwealth. In this, the longest reign of any monarch in British history and across these islands, the Duke of Edinburgh was always there by the Queen’s side, defending and upholding the Crown, while at the same time showing his devotion to the people of this country through his work for so many wonderful causes, charities, the armed forces, sports, the arts and, of course, the protection of our natural environment and of wildlife in particular.
He was a good man—a man of character, integrity, courage and patriotism. On behalf of my constituents in Romford, I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathies to Her Majesty the Queen on this huge loss to herself and the entire royal family. A service of thanksgiving for the life of His Royal Highness will be held at the Church of St Edward the Confessor in Romford market later this week. It is a church that Prince Philip and the Queen visited way back on 3 March 2003, following on from Her Majesty’s golden jubilee tour of the United Kingdom.
I remember the day well. Upon their arrival in Romford market, Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh were greeted with rapturous applause from the people of my town. I had the pleasure of spending time with the Queen and His Royal Highness as the then new Member of Parliament for Romford, escorting them around our historic market town, meeting stallholders and local people, followed by community representatives and a lunch in the church hall, the Wykeham Hall. Prince Philip had time for everyone. He showed enormous interest in all things that were important to others, and with a great sense of humour at all times.
As chairman of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, I pay tribute to His Royal Highness for the part he played in the Queen’s state visit to Ireland in May 2011. He did so much to help bring our two nations together, strengthening that bond of friendship between all peoples across these blessed islands of ours. May I also pay tribute to His Royal Highness for his lifelong support for the 21 British overseas territories and Crown dependencies? The Duke visited so many of them over his lifetime. I especially recall that wonderful day in July 2002 at Tynwald Hill on the Isle of Man, where the Queen and Prince Philip came for the magnificent annual ceremony celebrating the Manx tradition of Tynwald Day. I was proud to be there myself.
The Duke of Edinburgh was indeed a man who made the most of his long life, but he did so in the service of his family, his country and the Crown. We owe him so much. Thank you, Prince Philip. God save the Queen.
It is a privilege to join with colleagues across the House today in paying tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh on behalf of my constituents in Canterbury. First and foremost, he will be greatly missed by his family, but it is clear from the many tributes that he will also be greatly missed by the British people as the nation’s grandfather.
Prince Philip was an independent spirit—many of us here in this House may be able to relate to that a little—who used his position to stand up for causes he believed so passionately in. From as early as the 1950s and into the 1960s, when he became president of the World Wildlife Fund, he promoted environmental causes such as air pollution at a time when it was far from fashionable to do so. In 1970, in a speech to the Australian Conservation Foundation, he said:
“The conservation of nature, the proper care for the human environment and a general concern for the long-term future of the whole of our planet are absolutely vital if future generations are to have a chance to enjoy their existence on this Earth.”
Those words resonate strongly today. Some have reported that he believed strongly that it should not be politicised, but in raising our awareness of the natural world around us, the plight of endangered species and the greenhouse effect, he got so many of us to sit up and take seriously the future of the planet when, as Sir David Attenborough put it:
“The majority of people were quite unaware that we were heading for ecological disasters.”
Of course, we must also pay tribute to his work for young people. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, which he launched in 1956, has given many thousands of young people from all backgrounds, including my own children, the opportunity to develop essential skills for life and work and to make lifelong memories.
Prince Philip had a long-standing relationship with Kent, and in particular with our wonderful Canterbury cathedral. Of course, anyone passing through the west door to the cathedral now passes under a statue of the Duke of Edinburgh standing next to the Queen, which was unveiled in 2015, and yesterday the Archbishop of Canterbury led a service and paid tribute to him there. Prince Philip led a remarkable life, from his service in the Royal Navy during the second world war, fighting against fascism, to his seven decades of public service through his marriage to our Queen. His legacy will live on, including his championing of environmental causes and his being a very early adopter of the idea of electric vehicles.
I will end with the words yesterday of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, reminding us of the very personal bereavement of Prince Philip’s family:
“We all know that it is not simply a factor of age or familiarity. It is not obliterated by the reality of a very long life remarkably led, nor is the predictability of death’s arrival a softening of the blow. Loss is loss.”
All our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they come to terms with their enormous loss.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to take part in this series of heartfelt tributes to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip. On behalf of my Cotswolds constituents, whom I have the honour to represent, my sincere condolences go to Her Majesty the Queen on the sad loss of her devoted husband and consort of more than 70 years. His Royal Highness Prince Philip was a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather who will be hugely missed, not only by his huge family but by the country he served so loyally and by many members of the Commonwealth throughout the world.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and indeed my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart), mentioned the Duke’s distinguished war record. His generation endured the suffering of war, and the bravery of our armed forces meant that Prince Philip hugely respected them for the rest of his life. This early experience of sacrifice and duty reinforced his dedication to Her Majesty the Queen and the nation he served so loyally throughout his long life. There is no doubt that Her Majesty the Queen’s enormously successful and long reign has been considerably assisted by the Duke’s constant loyalty and wise counsel.
However, the Duke earned his own place in the history of the British nation with his achievements in helping young people through his worldwide Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme—a legacy of more than 60 years; there is nothing more important than developing skills and opportunities for young people here and abroad—and his presidency of the National Playing Fields Association, now known as Fields in Trust. The Duke was also a very early champion of the environment, helping to form the Australian Conservation Foundation and, as many members have said, helping Peter Scott to form the World Wildlife Fund.
I, among many other colleagues, had the honour of meeting Prince Philip at a garden party, where we had a short conversation about our shared interests in the countryside, farming and the environment. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) said, the Duke had a deep, thinking mind, and he realised that the whole of the natural world is interconnected—if it is damaged in one place, that comes out somewhere else. The duke was a no-nonsense, humorous and down-to-earth person who characteristically requested not to have a state funeral. He was always there on important occasions, and his death means that there is now an irreplaceable void in our nation’s affairs, but his legacy and foresight will continue to live on. May he rest in peace.
My thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty the Queen and all members of the royal family. Those of us who have experienced loss must remember that Prince Philip was, first and foremost, a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. On behalf of my Ogmore constituents, I pay tribute to his service throughout these last 70 years as consort to Her Majesty.
Many Members have spoken about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I make no apology for repetition, although I wish to speak more about the impact that it had on young people when I was a cabinet member for education in a different local authority from the one I now represent in Parliament. I was privileged, during my four and a half years in that particular role, to meet young people who achieved bronze, silver and gold awards, some of whom obviously got to gold after achieving bronze and silver. They were from some of the poorest communities and some of the wealthiest—the most deprived and the least deprived, the full spectrum of young people one could ever wish to meet. The extraordinary thing about the award was that it did not matter where they were from—they were all working towards a common goal. It was a joy to see young people travelling to London. Some young people would never have had the option to travel to London—they would never otherwise have an opportunity to travel outside the small community where they had lived their whole life. The Duke of Edinburgh Award gave them the freedom and inspiration to do something.
I met many young people from deprived communities who went to university because of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Arguably, judging from the comments of their own parents, they would never have done that if it were not for the award. That is a legacy that I hope that the royal family and, indeed, the Queen, will look back on. I hope that they will think of that small idea in the 1950s and the success that so many young people have now achieved, and what they have gone on to achieve in adulthood and beyond.
I am a proud member of the executive committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. When we look at the figures, we see that between 1949 and 2016, His Royal Highness made 229 visits to 67 Commonwealth nations without the Queen—that was on top of all the additional visits he made around the Commonwealth. He was a great believer in the Commonwealth. He worked, not just through his patronages and visits to different countries, to ensure that the Commonwealth adapted and grew into the family of nations that it is today. From the collective grief around the Commonwealth, we can clearly see the impact that he had as the Queen’s consort and as a great supporter of the Commonwealth of nations that so many of us are proud to have an association with.
Finally, many Members have talked of service: service to Her Majesty the Queen as consort, and service to our country. The one thing on which many Members have commented, but which not everyone knew about His Royal Highness, was his service in the armed forces: it was the bedrock of his service to this country. He first came here as a refugee, following the instructions of George VI and George V, when there were evacuations from Greece for the Greek royal family. His service began because he was grateful for the support that he had received from this country. Serving in the armed forces meant he had a bedrock of commitment to this country that most of us now can only envy. He regarded serving in the military, then taking a step back when Her Royal Highness became Queen at such a young age, as his raison d’être for life, ensuring that the Queen had the support to do her job. I hope, as the Queen and the royal family look back on his life, that, as all grieving families do, they will see that across the House and the nation we are grateful for his service and for the dedication that he showed all of us and which he showed Her Majesty. May he rest in peace.
Of all the rich aspects of the life of His Royal Highness about which we have heard from hon. Members this afternoon, perhaps I can focus on two that have not been mentioned.
First, for 42 years, the Duke was Master of Henry VIII’s great foundation Trinity House, the true home of seafarers and shipping, lighthouses and pilotage, of which I am honoured to be a Younger Brother. The Duke was always a seafarer at heart. He understood the sea, and his commitment to all things maritime is absolutely legendary. He even helped to design the royal yacht Britannia, so a fitting legacy might be a new multi-purpose royal yacht, perhaps named “Philip, Duke of Edinburgh”. How fitting that would be! The deputy master of Trinity House, Captain Ian McNaught, quoted Tennyson in his homage:
“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.”
That great pilot the Duke of Edinburgh has now crossed the bar.
Secondly, I well remember attending a Buckingham Palace reception for MPs shortly after coming back from a long expedition to South Georgia and Antarctica. When I was presented to the Duke, he leaned over and said, “That’s a bloody awful beard you’ve got there”—he obviously had a thing about beards. But when I told him I had grown it in South Georgia, his face lit up. He reminisced about his trip there in 1957 and how much he loved the rugged landscape, the wildlife, Shackleton’s grave and the rest of South Georgia. The Duke was fascinated by Antarctica and took great pleasure in showing guests at Windsor castle the flag that had gone south with Scott and the flag that went with Shackleton, both of which were eventually returned to King George V. South Georgia and Antarctica have a great deal to thank His Royal Highness for.
Perhaps his most enduring legacy, which so many hon. Members have already mentioned, must be the 6.7 million youngsters from 130 countries across the world who have so greatly benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. My friend Sir David Hempleman-Adams is one of the greatest explorers and climbers in Britain today, and he owes that to his boyhood experience in the scheme. He rose up through the scheme and eventually became a trustee. When he was invited to Windsor castle, he told the Duke that it was an honour and a privilege—and the Duke turned to him and said, “No, David, it’s a duty. You must know the difference.” That moment typifies what the Duke thought about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme: it is about duty, not honours and privileges.
Many other hon. Members wish to speak, so I will finish by reminiscing about a brief visit from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to North Wiltshire in 2001. We had lunch in Malmesbury town hall; Malmesbury is, of course, the oldest town in Britain—in the world, I suspect. After lunch, the Duke leaned over to me and said, “We’d better get going; otherwise the Queen’ll stay here all afternoon gassing.” I had better take the Duke of Edinburgh’s advice and stop gassing, but I know that I represent the people of North Wiltshire, and indeed the whole county of Wiltshire, in paying tribute to a great life well lived, a great servant of the nation and a lifelong mainstay of Her Majesty the Queen.
It is an honour to send my tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, on behalf of my constituents in Batley and Spen.
The Duke had a close connection to Yorkshire. His first official visit, deputising for an ailing George VI, was to Hull in 1948. In 1954, just two years into Her Majesty’s reign, the royal couple came to Batley and Spen. The town streets were packed, as locals came out to give them the warm Yorkshire welcome that God’s own county is so famous for. When there was no room left on the pavement, people were hanging out of the windows to steal a glance at the glamorous couple, who took the time to meet people who worked in the industries that gave the region its moniker of “Heavy Woollen District”. Throughout his life, Philip took a keen interest in the people he met; I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the Duke discussed life and textiles with Annie Kenyon, a weaver for 62 years, and Mr Leonard Noble, a wool blender of 52 years.
As the royal family’s dedication to public service grew through the decades, so did Batley and Spen’s love for them. In recent difficult moments for our community, the prince’s values and those of the Queen and the royal household were there again and again, providing leadership and comfort as only they could. Following the murder of my predecessor Jo Cox, Police Constables Craig Nicholls and Jonathan Wright, who arrived on the scene to confront Jo’s killer, received the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for their heroism. Pensioner Bernard Kenny, who was stabbed in the abdomen as he came to Jo’s assistance, received the George Medal; it was accepted by his wife after his sad passing. My friend Sandra Major, Jo’s former caseworker, was awarded an MBE for her services to the communities of Batley and Spen.
In the aftermath of the tragic shooting, the Queen wrote a private letter to Jo’s widower Brendan, which I can only hope brought comfort in the most difficult of times. I have the same hope that an outpouring of respect and tribute such as ours today brings the smallest amount of comfort to the Queen as she mourns her husband.
In December 2020, the Duke’s grandson, Prince William, and the Duchess of Cambridge were in Batley covering the ground that Her Majesty and the Duke did 66 years earlier. That visit was to allow Catherine an opportunity to meet resident Len Gardner, whom she befriended through the Royal Voluntary Service. I am sure the Duke was incredibly proud of his family’s ability to continue his work to adapt and support our nation during these adverse times.
The Duke also fulfilled a role of support to Her Majesty that is rare even today. World leaders still tend to be men, and would have been nearly exclusively so in those earlier decades. The Duke would have stood out as the supporting gentleman to his leading lady. His ability to affect lives is perfectly exemplified by the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and we have heard many examples of the impact that that scheme has had. The awards are a worthy legacy for the Duke, as they have been instilling the principles of volunteering, society, activity and education in young people for decades. While attending his last gold award ceremony in 2017, the Duke met participants from Kirklees. I hope those memories will live with those youngsters for a long time to come.
We come together today to pay tribute to a giant of British society—a man who lived a life of public service and will be fondly remembered with love in Yorkshire. My thoughts are with his family, who will miss him dearly, and all those who loved him.
It is a special pleasure to be in the Chair to hear a fellow Yorkshirewoman pay her tribute. My constituents in Doncaster Central were deeply saddened by the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh and would want their condolences to be passed on to Her Majesty the Queen in the way that the hon. Lady has done.
Much has been said in the last few days about Prince Philip’s steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen—my thoughts are with her and her family—but he was also a figure in his own right, especially in the Commonwealth. I worked in Commonwealth affairs for eight years and met him a number of times, mostly at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s pretty raucous Commonwealth Day receptions, but it has only been in recent days that I have learned just how much he did to shape the association.
Arnold Smith was the first Commonwealth secretary-general. In his memoirs, he talked about how in 1965 he and his wife found themselves standing at the end of a diplomatic line-up at a palace reception. Prince Philip apparently noticed that and demanded an explanation from Whitehall officials. The next week, the secretary-general was informed that he would in the future be put before the line of ambassadors. That was a small but important change in protocol to establish the authority of the first secretary-general of a new multilateral organisation.
Then in 1974, there was a heated debate about whether the word “British” should be dropped from the title of the British Commonwealth games. Prince Philip agreed with Nigeria and some of the other newer countries that it should be dropped, but he made his views known less publicly. Aside from being a royal, he was respected as a sportsman, so the argument was won and the word was dropped.
During my time at the Commonwealth Secretariat in the 2000s, the fourth secretary-general, Sir Don McKinnon, was still benefiting from Prince Philip’s wise counsel. It was a tricky period, with a number of countries facing suspension over military coups or human rights abuses. Don tells me that Prince Philip once said to him, “But, SG, you just have to persevere with some countries for longer than others, especially the UK.” It was very much the in-joke. There is no doubt that in the Commonwealth, Prince Philip was quite the modernising force, helping behind the scenes to help move the Commonwealth beyond the roots of empire to become a modern association of equal sovereign countries supporting democracy and the rule of law.
Many have paid tribute to Prince Philip’s unique Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. In the last eight years, more than 40,000 young people in Hertfordshire have enrolled on the award. In the same year that he established the DofE scheme, he also established the Commonwealth study conferences for young people to discuss industrialisation and its impact on their communities. He was also a patron of the Commonwealth expeditions, which sent young people on intrepid adventures through Europe and the middle east with little more than a rucksack and a bus ticket. It would be a fitting tribute indeed if we could reverse the declining opportunities for young people in Britain to take part in more of these international exchanges.
From St Albans to Saint Lucia, from the corridors of Whitehall to the windswept teenagers in Windermere, from the Allied base of Malta to the cargo cults of Vanuatu, Prince Philip’s contribution to international youth exchanges and modernising the Commonwealth will surely be remembered.
As he was famously uninterested in what others thought about him and perhaps not much given to self-reflection, I doubt that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh would have approved much of these deliberations on him. In truth, we have all learnt so much about him and this great long life so well lived that I hope that other members of the royal family will take great solace and pride in understanding the volume of the tributes from around the country today. The main reason for that is that the Duke’s intense curiosity about the world around him, perhaps excepting the occasional human tendency to bellyache or sit on the fence, struck home to millions of people not just in our country but around the Commonwealth and in the wider world.
I saw that at first hand, particularly on issues to do with the Commonwealth, and I am grateful for the comments from the hon. Member for St Albans (Daisy Cooper), who rightly highlighted that, too. It was after I had created the all-party parliamentary group for the Commonwealth. The Prince’s great encouragement was not to talk about things but to do them, and time and again all of us who had meetings with him saw that. It was almost as if, although Churchill coined the phrase “action this day” during world war two, that was the driving motto for his life. That came through in all our constituencies, too. In his two visits to Gloucester with Her Majesty the Queen in 2003 and 2009, he made it clear that he thought that there was still plenty to be done to repair the cathedral and regenerate the city. He was absolutely right on both points.
Sometimes, of course, his great knack for getting straight to the point could bruise some and amuse others. At the state banquet for the Indonesian President SBY in 2012, I was let off quite lightly, but when George Osborne was introduced to the President as Chancellor of the Exchequer, a phrase that the President may not have come across before, the Duke intervened to clarify. He pointed at George Osborne: “He’s the chap who is in charge of the money, only we haven’t got any at the moment.” This ability to lighten what could be a formal or even pompous occasion was something that many in this House have seen in action.
The Prime Minister and others touched on the grand themes of the Duke’s life, celebrating above all our greatest ever consort’s duty and service. We all have family or constituents who have benefited from the great confidence-building of the DofE Award. We now recognise even more than before his groundbreaking interest in the environment and nature, but perhaps the vast accumulation of anecdotes from so many people touched by his interest and wit leave us another legacy. Life is a gift, but there is plenty of hard work and sadness involved, and it is made more tolerable by being amused by its absurdities and intended or unintended moments of fun.
His Royal Highness was a refugee, a man of no fixed abode, let alone a home, until he married. I doubt that any refugee has ever given greater service to his or her adopted country. In that spirit and on behalf of all my constituents in Gloucester, may I offer my grateful thanks for the Duke of Edinburgh’s immense work for our monarchy, our nation, the Commonwealth and beyond and for the great sense of fun with which he approached it?
His Royal Highness Prince Philip was a colossal figure in our public life, an exemplary public servant to our country and a stoic and committed tower of strength to Her Majesty the Queen. Today we send our warmest wishes and condolences to the Queen and the royal family at what families all around our country will recognise as being a truly and deeply sorrowful time. Prince Philip’s patriotism and his commitment to a greater collective common good were exemplified in his military service. When our nation, our values and our way of life were threatened, he was there with those other British servicemen and women, standing up to defend the open, liberal, tolerant Britain that we are so privileged to call our home today.
Of course, Prince Philip will be most remembered for his seven decades of service as the Duke of Edinburgh. Throughout that time he was a loving and loyal servant, husband, guide and confidant to the Queen. He was always by her side, step by step and duty by duty. The modern family comes in all shapes and sizes, and with all manner of personal challenges, yet whenever the royal family was faced with its own challenges, the quiet, stoic, sturdy and reassuring presence of Prince Philip was there to guide it.
We in this House are great believers in the power of words and arguments, and rightly so, but Prince Philip’s approach to life was a constant reminder of the fact that actions speak louder than words. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme is surely the outstanding example of that principle. Indeed, thousands of my Aberavon constituents have benefited hugely from the scheme, which has done so much to help so many young people to realise their potential.
Prince Philip will also always be remembered in Wales for the fact that he was the first member of the royal family to visit Aberfan following the horrific disaster in 1966. Indeed, he was on the scene little more than 24 hours after the colliery spoil tip had collapsed on to the junior school, killing 144 local people including 116 children. Prince Philip met local families who were beside themselves with grief, and he showed great compassion. He then brought the Queen to Aberfan the following week, and we know that their visit and their time gave some comfort to the people of Aberfan at that time of unimaginable tragedy. We therefore pay tribute to Prince Philip, a moderniser but a traditionalist, a family man but also a man of action, and we express our gratitude for his service to Queen and country. May he rest in peace.
It is both a pleasure and an honour to represent my constituents in today’s tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Rather appropriately, I was only a stone’s throw from the sea when I drafted this speech on Sunday—the sea upon which Prince Philip served with such distinction in the Royal Navy. I heard the dreaded but not unexpected news outside Weymouth station on Friday. My first thought was for Her Majesty the Queen and their family. My second was for the nation, which has lost an immeasurable treasure.
My own association with Prince Philip was limited. I physically met him once, at the National Sailing Academy on Portland, and I joined him on parade twice for Trooping the Colour. I also received plenty of feedback from my parents, especially my mother, when he came to stay at home while on duty in Dorset. I cannot claim, therefore, to have known him, but the odd thing is that I feel as though I did. Judging by the tributes that have poured in, it appears that many share that sentiment, such was the man.
There is another source of information about the Prince that I would like to share with the House. Admiral Sir Robert Woodard KCVO commanded the royal yacht for five years before she was laid up. A special friendship with my dear departed papa has passed to me. As he is unable to address the House himself, I am the admiral’s humble conduit. As the House can imagine, the admiral got to know the Duke well, as he was revered by both officers and crew. To the admiral, the Duke was a quite outstanding man. The admiral continues in his own words:
“We will only discover what he has achieved worldwide after his death and with wonderment. Amongst his huge gifts is, perhaps, the most important––a huge sense of humour and fun. Set light to it, and the evening’s made! He was a very rewarding man to recount a funny incident to. Whilst commanding the yacht, there were several occasions when the plan did not always account for factors that affected the aim! High winds in confined areas is one. Going through Pegasus Bridge at the D-day celebrations at minimum steering speed of 6 knots, in the failing light and with only 8 feet either side we could not even see the water from each end of the ship’s Bridge! ‘Keep your eyes on the road!’ Prince Philip said. ‘That’s all I can see, sir,’ I replied, and we both laughed.
Prince Philip would express his satisfaction with your efforts if they deserved it, and add a cryptic comment. He was always concerned that everyone was being properly looked after. He was insistent on being given the complete detail about any modification to the yacht herself. If at the end of your explanation you had not completely convinced him––stand by for searching questions! He was a good listener, but don’t rattle on.
Both the Prince and Her Majesty the Queen enjoyed nothing more than looking after themselves. And nowhere did this become more evident than at family barbecues. The Duke did the cooking, the Queen, the ‘greens’. Finally, I witnessed Prince Philip’s involvement in a speech being drafted by the Queen. His was the penultimate version.”
So says the admiral.
The admiral, like me, can think of no greater tribute to the Duke than to build and commission another royal yacht. The white ensign flying proudly from any of Her Majesty’s ships is enough to stir most hearts, quite apart from generating all the good will and business that Britannia did so supremely well. Our sympathies extend to the Queen and the royal family for their loss. The Duke’s legacy will live on for countless years. He was the Queen’s rock for 73 years, but he was the nation’s, too. God bless her, and rest in peace.
It is always difficult to sum up a man of such years, dignity, service and honours as His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, and any attempt by me will fall short. Members who have spoken before me have so wonderfully given a glimpse into his career, so in my short tribute today, I will highlight a few of the numerous facets that made up Prince Philip that I admired the most.
The first is His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, the veteran. As a former Ulster Defence Regiment member, I could not help but look up to a man who served with distinction during the second world war, and whose service continued up until last year. He was truly a man of courage and bravery. The tributes from the armed forces could not be clearer. His service continued in the form of encouragement and inspiration, and his loss is felt deeply by so many veterans and service personnel. His service was unparalleled; he was, indeed, a colossus.
The second is His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme founder. It is a tremendous scheme, founded and driven by the Duke, which has seen young people—many from my own constituency of Strangford—getting an opportunity to drive themselves and excel outside of pure academia. It has been a worthy addition to many people’s CVs: they have valued that coveted award and the meaning, work and dedication behind it. In Northern Ireland alone, in just one year of the award—2019-20—participants volunteered a total of 85,293 hours in non-profit community activities, offering an estimated financial equivalent of £371,025. Extrapolated over the 65 years of the award, the good to individuals and communities is truly immeasurable, including the young lives that were changed—I know some of them—by being given this opportunity. His charitable contributions will, through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, last long after he has passed away. His environmental interests, including through the World Wildlife Fund, show that he was a man truly ahead of his time.
His Royal Highness The Prince Philip was Her Majesty’s strength and stay: a strong man, an intelligent man, a dynamic man, a forward-looking man, and a man who understood that the step behind the Queen was not a slight, but an absolute honour. My heart aches for Her Majesty over the loss of her confidant, her smile-bringer, her wisdom-imparting best friend. On behalf of my constituents in Strangford, I can confidently say, “Your Majesty, you and all the royal family are in our thoughts and prayers. You have our deepest respect and greatest admiration, and we share a semblance of your sorrow.”
I first met Prince Philip when I was a Member of the Legislative Assembly and the Assembly reconvened in 1998. The Queen and Prince Philip attended the Assembly that time. The Queen came up one side of the Great Hall and Prince Philip came up the side that I was on. He looked over at me and saw the badge in my lapel. He said to me, “What’s that badge?” I said, “Prince Philip, it is a badge that says ‘Defend the RUC. They defended us.’” He looked at me, maybe with a mischievous smile, and said, “Well you know, it’s just a wee bit late.” His wit, his understanding and his loyalty were clear. He loved Northern Ireland.
Let me make my final point. His Royal Highness The Prince Philip was a man of loyalty and one of a generation whose service, duty, honour, fortitude, dignity and good humour we must all aspire to. Those are watchwords that we all associate with Prince Philip. He was beloved by the people of Strangford, beloved by the people of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, and beloved by the Commonwealth.
I hope it is not too late now to say, “Sir, I respected you as a man, second only to my own father, and you will be missed greatly, but your legacy will live on.”
The loss of the Duke of Edinburgh is painful for our country. Our monarch has lost her lifelong companion, the royal family have lost their father, grandfather and great- grandfather, and our country has lost a public servant who, through years of dedicated public service, gathered unparalleled expertise, knowledge and skills. This is a collective loss to our country. We cannot overemphasise that. Her Majesty the Queen described Prince Philip as “my strength and stay”. He never let the Queen down. Accordingly, he never let any of us down—his countrymen.
As chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for Greece, I look back on the Prince’s life as a fascinating education in the politics of the 20th century. Born in 1921 in Corfu, the son of Prince Andrew of Greece, Prince Philip was grandson of King George of Greece. As such, Prince Philip was born a Prince of Greece and of Denmark. The statement last Friday by the President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, extending her condolences, included a touching photo of the young prince wearing the Greek Evzones uniform, but we know how the politics of the mid-20th century turned out, and it was the United Kingdom that took Prince Philip of Greece as one of its own.
However, it was not until February 1957—36 years after Prince Philip was born a Greek Prince—that he finally became a Prince of the United Kingdom. What a journey! The Prince’s coat of arms represents his lineage: a Prince of Greece and of Denmark on his paternal side; descent from the Mountbatten family on his maternal side; three lions passant in pale azure for Denmark; second azure, a cross argent for Greece; third argent, two pallets sable for Battenberg, or Mountbatten; fourth argent, upon a rock proper a castle for Edinburgh.
Considered by everyone quintessentially British to the core, Prince Philip’s coat of arms embodies a man of rather wide heritage. Only in Britain could such a man have been made a Prince of the United Kingdom and come to be regarded today, as we rightly pay our respects, as father of the British nation. What a journey indeed.
As Prince Philip takes his final journey to a much greater place, on behalf of the people of South Leicestershire, I extend my heartfelt and sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family.
It is an honour to speak in this important debate and to pay tribute to the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Much has been said already, and I echo the sentiments expressed by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and by colleagues across the House who have spoken in tribute to the Duke. By any measure, his was a life well lived, and to reach the age of 99 was amazing.
Many of my close friends will be surprised to hear me speaking to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, as I am not renowned for my pro-royalist views. However, one does not need to be an ardent monarchist to acknowledge the Duke’s lifetime of service to our country, his commitment to the Queen, and his interest in advancing the experiences and life chances of our young people. Prince Philip dedicated himself to public service and to supporting the Queen for more than 70 years. His commitment to duty, our country and the Commonwealth was evident, and he carried out those duties with characteristic strength and determination.
We have already heard much about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which will be an ongoing testament to the Duke’s commitment, enthusiasm and tenacity. Many thousands of young people in Newport West, Wales, and across the United Kingdom and Commonwealth have benefited from the teamwork, focus, direction and inspiration of that award, and look back fondly on their experiences. Like many in Newport West, my children took part in the award scheme. I recall visiting Buckingham Palace with my daughter Elinor in 2017, and meeting the late Duke at what was the last time he participated in the gold award ceremony. I saw for myself how he was able to put young people at their ease by asking them direct questions about their experiences. He was not condescending or patronising; he was genuinely interested in what they had to say. He made a huge impression on Elinor, and on all the young people he met that day.
Like all those families who have lost loved ones over the past year, the royal family are in mourning but—as with all those we have mourned and consoled over the past year—in a different, covid-19 secure way. They will do the same on Saturday. Today I want to give a voice to the many people who live, learn and work in Newport West who will mourn the Duke’s passing and who, through me as their Member of Parliament, extend their condolences to the Queen and her family. It is never easy to lose a spouse or loved one, but it must be an immense blow to lose a partner after almost 74 years of marriage. We give thanks for the life of Prince Philip. We mourn his loss, and we send our prayers, condolences, and love to the family he has left behind.
I rise to join my constituents and people throughout the country, the Commonwealth, and around the world in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. As Member of Parliament for The Wrekin for the past 16 years, I had the privilege of meeting the Duke on several occasions. Many of my constituents will have met him too, no doubt through his dutiful, tireless and dedicated work for the environment, the rural way of life, Her Majesty’s armed forces, and the countless charities that he led and supported.
Prince Philip’s life was one of true public service and supreme duty to Her Majesty the Queen, this country and the wider Commonwealth. In particular I pay tribute to his personal vision in creating the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Every part of the United Kingdom has been touched by that life-changing scheme, as well as more than 140 nations around the world. On behalf of all the young men and women throughout Shropshire who have already undertaken, or are currently undertaking, the award, I say a very public thank you to the late Prince for believing, inspiring, investing in and trusting young people to discover their potential, and exhorting them to go higher and further.
Moreover, I know that many in Shropshire will recall with great fondness and celebration the Duke’s visit, accompanying Her Majesty the Queen to RAF Cosford in 2012, as part of Her Majesty’s diamond jubilee pageant. Prince Philip visited Shropshire multiple times over many years. Each visit was very special, and his memory will live on in Shropshire. Whether people met him or not, the people of The Wrekin certainly will miss him dearly—very dearly.
It is a privilege to be called to speak in this moving and at times light-hearted debate. I will pick up particularly on the light-hearted theme.
As I have listened to the speeches from across the House this afternoon, I have wondered what the late Duke of Edinburgh would have made of this afternoon’s event, given his view of MPs, which, rather giving the game away, was cited by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn):
“most of them are a complete bloody waste of time.”
Indeed, I found time during one or two of the perhaps more repetitive speeches to read the sketch of the earlier part of this afternoon’s proceedings by Tom Peck in The Independent, which I highly commend. If His Royal Highness the late Duke of Edinburgh did not think much of MPs, perhaps I can try to redeem us in his eyes, and also perhaps redeem the Duke, after the Prime Minister’s earlier reference to what the Duke himself described as his own “foot in mouth” syndrome.
I do not know how many other Members saw it over the weekend, but there was a wonderful video from a speech that the late Duke of Edinburgh gave in 1990 to the National Press Club in Washington. He described how one member of the line-up in 1952 congratulated Her Majesty the Queen on the re-election of her father to the office of Prime Minister, before being corrected and told that that was Mr Churchill. She then turned to the Duke of Edinburgh and said, “Oh, how wonderful to meet you, Mr Churchill!” He went on to describe being present in Tokyo for Japan’s surrender at the end of the second world war and the slight awkwardness of his state visit with Her Majesty to Japan many years later. As he went round many official functions, he was asked time and again, “Your first time in Japan?” to which the Duke of Edinburgh replied, “Yes, indeed.” As he said himself,
“I’m not always as tactless as people make out”.
Perhaps the late Duke of Edinburgh was not always as tactless as is sometimes said, and perhaps Members of this House are not always a complete bloody waste of time—although I think our constituents have particular views on that.
I want to focus my remarks this evening on the late Duke of Edinburgh’s contribution to young people, which is a shared interest. Indeed, during this debate I have learned that we had a second shared interest: making my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Peter Kyle) the butt of our jokes. Other Members have spoken powerfully and eloquently about the Duke of Edinburgh’s military service. Indeed, I was reminded by my father at the weekend that my late grandfather was in the Duke of Edinburgh’s convoy during the second world war. We have heard about his enormous commitment to the environment and conservation, and his endless dedication to such a wide range of good causes, but in my eyes it is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme that is one of his greatest legacies, benefiting 6.7 million people since it began, across 130 countries.
This weekend we heard one of those beneficiaries, a man named Jon, talking about how the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, in his words, saved his life. He had found himself in prison, was given the opportunity to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, developed a skill in cooking and set up his own catering business. He was really proud, just as the Duke of Edinburgh was proud of him, even if, with his characteristic wit, the Duke asked him, when he was doing his Duke of Edinburgh gold award and they were let out on release, “Were you all attached by a ball and chain?” None the less, the Duke of Edinburgh’s pride in both Jon and the entire scheme is clear for all to see.
Other Members have talked about how they would like the Government to take up that legacy. I implore the Government to commemorate the life and cement the legacy of His Royal Highness through a commitment on the part of the nation and the Government to support an expansion of youth work and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, to ensure that extracurricular activities are enjoyed by all young people, especially at the end of this terrible pandemic.
In conclusion, I want to say on behalf of all my constituents and all the people of the London Borough of Redbridge that the late Duke of Edinburgh was the epitome of duty and service. It was no surprise to me to see another great British institution—a convoy of licensed black taxis—lining the Mall to pay tribute to him, and we remember fondly his last visit to Ilford.
Just as we begin our proceedings every day by sending our prayers to Her Majesty the Queen, this evening of all evenings the prayers of myself and my constituents are with her and the royal family as they grieve not just their loss but a loss for our entire country.
It is with honour that I rise to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip on behalf of my constituents. Of course, the Duke of Edinburgh was also Colonel-in-Chief of my corps, the Intelligence Corps, and I would like to concentrate on his military career.
We think of the Duke of Edinburgh as a dashing naval officer. Many might regard him as having been privileged and certain to succeed in life, but that was not the case. His young life was unstable and fraught with difficulties. His father was nearly executed, his family was exiled, his mother—profoundly deaf—was sent to a sanatorium, and his sister was killed in a plane crash. He did not have it easy, but in his own words,
“One just gets on with it.”
The Duke of Edinburgh served at sea throughout world war two, from the Arctic to the Pacific—five years in harm’s way. Following the night action at the battle of Cape Matapan in 1941, he was mentioned in dispatches, still only a midshipman—an officer under training. That showed his unwavering resolve, which he continued through the rest of his service to the Queen, the country and the Commonwealth.
There has always been a close relationship between the royal family and the Royal Navy. The Queen’s father, George VI, was a gunnery officer on HMS Collingwood at the battle of Jutland. He, too, was mentioned in dispatches. Two of the Duke’s sons followed him into the Navy. Indeed, my husband, Nick—yet another dashing naval officer—served alongside Prince Andrew, both Lynx pilots in the 815 Naval Air Squadron.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s life of service is an inspiration to generations of men and women in all three services. His is an incredible story of service; of duty to the Queen and his adopted country; of a life lived to the full; of a legacy of steadfastness; and of an unshakeable sense of duty but also a sense of fun, no nonsense and candour.
The 1944 “Royal Navy Officer’s Pocket-Book” suggests that a Royal Navy officer should learn that the
“art of command is…to be the complete master, and yet the complete friend of every man on board; the temporal lord and yet the spiritual brother of every rating; to be detached and yet not dissociated.”
Without exception, His Royal Highness commanded that recommendation. We saw that in his innate ability to connect with all rank and file, from sea lord to sapper. He shared a unique understanding and relationship with all who served. He cared deeply and understood the values, standards and demands that military service places on our armed forces. He was one of us. He will be sorely missed by the military family, and our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family at this time.
Many of us in the House who swore in the military to serve our Queen and country have lost a role model—a man with a sense of duty and service, whose desire was to see every young person achieve their best through personal challenge, discipline and resilience. My hope is that, out of the sadness of his passing, we can have conversations like those we are having today, which tell the stories of his life and service and which will inspire future generations of Royal Navy recruits.
On behalf of the Royal Navy veterans in Wrexham, I would like to end with these words: Fair winds, calm seas, stand easy Sir, your watch is done.
On behalf of the people in my constituency of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, I offer my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family on their sad loss. Having lost my own father a few weeks ago, I can say that we all know and appreciate that messages of support and condolence are a great comfort when we lose a much-loved family member. I hope that the messages that we have heard today and throughout the weekend will be of some comfort to the Queen and the rest of Prince Philip’s family.
At times like this, it is inevitable that many of the examples and stories that people have to tell are duplicated. However, I have been struck in recent days by just how many stories and experiences that I was hearing were, in fact, quite unique, and many I was hearing for the first time. That highlighted the fact that, although Prince Philip lived in the media spotlight, there were attributes that we did not know about the man himself.
It is the case that, with someone like Prince Philip who has been at the heart of our national life for so long, it often feels as if we know him personally, which, of course, we do not. What we do know and what is evident is that Prince Philip cared about this country and about the people he spent his life serving. The decades of duty and service and his absolute devotion to Her Majesty the Queen are, quite possibly, things that we will not see the like of again.
Communities here in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and across Wales have a long tradition of supporting royal events, be they weddings, jubilees or royal visits. In fact, there are communities in my constituency which, for the past few weeks, have been thinking about how they can mark Her Majesty’s platinum jubilee next year. We are all hoping that after all that our communities and the whole country have been through in recent months, and after this weekend’s loss for the Queen, the jubilee will provide an opportunity for a much happier occasion for the whole country.
As someone who spent many years in the third sector, working with many youth and community groups, I absolutely appreciate the contribution that Prince Philip made to the support and development of millions of young people through the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which has now reached more than 130 countries around the world. Some of the young people I have met who have taken part in the DofE have spoken of the huge opportunities that it has given them and the self-confidence and the life skills that their time on the scheme have inspired. To have established this initiative 65 years ago and to offer continuous commitment to the obvious benefit of so many young people is an amazing achievement and legacy.
Finally, as the representative of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, I would like to mention His Royal Highness’s association with the community of Aberfan. Prince Philip was the first member of the royal family to visit the community, the day after the disaster in October 1966, spending time meeting parents and relatives in their own homes and quietly moving around the village offering comfort. Just a few days later, he returned with Her Majesty the Queen, again spending time speaking with the bereaved and offering comfort and support. The Queen and Prince Philip have returned to Aberfan a number of times over the years, as has the Prince of Wales. The Queen and Prince Philip’s most recent visit was in 2012 when they officially opened the new primary school in the village. I know many people in Aberfan and in the wider Merthyr Tydfil area who never forgot the kindness of Prince Philip at the most tragic and difficult period of their lives. After a lifetime of dedicated public service, we give thanks for a life well lived. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
I rise to offer my condolences to Her Majesty in this Humble Address on behalf of my constituents as much as of myself. Every single one of my constituents—even those who have not yet been born—will enter a world and live a life that His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has shaped. We know that he was reluctant to have the word “legacy” used around him and that he did everything in the service of his country, but he also helped to shape this country in a way that will help it to go forward. The institutions that he supported, which have been described in so many ways today, will have people taking part in them and using them who may not feel that they even have a connection with the royal family. They may be republicans who do not recognise the royal family, but his legacy has allowed them to participate in the areas that are important to them, and he drove those things forward.
As one of the few engineers in this building—as a mechanical engineer with an engineering degree—I can say that the Duke took forward engineering. He helped to form the Royal Academy and made it important. The word “boffins” was used in the past, which may not have helped to achieve the recognition that engineering needed, but he created that important legacy around engineering and put it on the same level as so many other institutions. As we look forward to what the country becomes, we will see the influence of the Duke of Edinburgh in almost every walk of life that people want to go into.
When I arrived in central London today and saw all the flags flying at half mast, it struck me that this is about more than protocol. What it says is that we mourn. We have respect, which is why we are following protocol, but we also mourn. As I entered the city today, that sense of mourning became very evident once again. As the Countess of Wessex commented at the weekend, Her Majesty the Queen has concern for what other people feel. Through this Humble Address, we are saying to Her Majesty that her subjects mourn the loss of her beloved husband. We mourn a man who has shaped this country in ways that few others would have the drive to take forward. I am therefore grateful to have this opportunity to speak not only on my own behalf, but on behalf of my constituents and those who are yet to be born, and to say that this country owes an enormous debt to the Duke of Edinburgh, and in future people will benefit from that but will perhaps not recognise by how much.
We will now return to Ian Paisley.
It is a huge honour to take part in these tributes to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. I, too, wish to express, on behalf of my constituents in North Antrim, my sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen on the loss of her husband, her life partner, her consort, her liege man and her true love. To the entire royal family, we pray that God will give them the grace to cope with the loss of their dearly beloved father figure of the royal household. No doubt the many messages of condolence that we have heard today will be appreciated, especially their variety, which in itself is a small indication of the esteem in which His Royal Highness was held.
I, too, had the privilege of meeting His Royal Highness on a number of occasions. In 2016 I welcomed the royal party to the Giant’s Causeway in Bushmills. Indeed, the colour and pageantry of that successful event is still remarked upon today. I presented His Royal Highness with a blackthorn stick. With a twinkle in his eye, he asked me, “Now, what shall I do with that, young man?” On other occasions I had the opportunity to dine with him at Windsor, when he was very engaging about the situation in Northern Ireland, and no doubt he would have had some things to say about what is happening to our beloved Province at the present time.
I believe that his son and grandson, Their Royal Highnesses, put it well in their own contributions about their dear papa. As His Royal Highness Prince William said, “Let’s now get on with the job.” What a summit he has set for others to aim for and climb.
We in Northern Ireland have seen something of the success of his legacy in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which has reached 67 million people across the United Kingdom, and in Northern Ireland this year alone there have been over 6,000 starts. My own children have participated enthusiastically in the scheme, because it delivers so much. Indeed, the delivery partners are a diverse group that includes the air cadets, the Army cadets, Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster and, indeed, the Gaelic Athletic Association. That says something about the success of that organisation and its legacy.
Today, we as a Parliament say, “Goodbye, Sir. Your like will not be seen again. Thank you.”
Time is short and many Members wish to pay their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh, so I will be brief. I would like to pass on my condolences and those of my constituents to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. This is a sad and difficult time for them all, and they are in our thoughts and prayers.
It is an honour to have the opportunity to speak in the debate and add my tribute to those made by Members across the House. I think we have all been moved by the warm and touching tributes made today, and I hope that the Queen and the royal family will be able to take some comfort from the deep affection for Prince Philip in this House.
I have particularly enjoyed listening to some of the anecdotes about visits and meetings spanning many years of the Duke’s service. Service was, indeed, a great theme of the Duke of Edinburgh’s life. It was a constant in all our lives and an example that I believe will live on into the future. It was public service rooted in a profound sense of duty typical of the wartime generation—the Duke had served with great bravery and distinction in world war two—and for Prince Philip, that deep sense of public service was expressed in many ways. First and foremost, he served the Queen. He was, as she said, her “strength and stay” throughout their life together. He also played an important role in supporting his children and the royal family as a whole, and I have been deeply moved by many of the tributes about his role, which has been spelled out in some detail in the media over the weekend.
It is also worth remembering that he used his role to support a wide range of very important causes, and I would like to focus on two examples. The first is Prince Philip’s work to protect the environment and encourage conservation, which was and continues to be hugely important. It is worth remembering that he helped to establish the World Wide Fund for Nature and then served as its president for 20 years. He championed environmentalism before it achieved the prominence it has today.
The second very important area, which has been drawn out by some Members, is the importance of young people to him. That was demonstrated quite simply by the time he spent putting young people at ease on visits—a skill that showed real empathy and an understanding of younger people—but it is probably best summed up by the lasting contribution he made through establishing the Duke of Edinburgh’s award. I hope that the award and many other aspects of his work, particularly his work to protect the environment, will thrive and provide a fitting legacy, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) said.
He was a unique public servant. For British people, the Commonwealth and across the world, Prince Philip made an incredible contribution. He was, for many of us, a constant throughout our lives. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak today, and on behalf of my constituents, I would like to offer our deepest condolences to the Queen and the entire royal family at this difficult time.
A few months after 9/11, I went to a service in New York where one of our Ministers, Jack Straw, was representing the Government, and he read those poignant words on behalf of the Queen:
“Grief is the price we pay for love.”
Anybody who has lost someone knows how poignant those words are, and we all stand along with the Queen, the country and the Commonwealth in grieving the loss of His Royal Highness.
Well said, Mr Deputy Speaker. Indeed, what is left to say after so many distinguished contributions? Let me start by sending my thoughts and prayers to Her Majesty the Queen, as so many others have, on behalf of the people of East Worthing and Shoreham. I add my three-penn’orth to this Humble Address without any particular first-hand knowledge of His Royal Highness, other than having met him at Buckingham Palace receptions, where I am sure we can all attest to his wit and occasionally eyebrow-raising humour. Alas, I never hosted His Royal Highness in my constituency in the last 24 years, but like so many people, I have admired his constancy, his dedication and his public service from afar and have felt truly personally saddened that he is no longer there; I have been surprised at the extent of that.
So often at funerals we find out so much about a person after they have left us from the tributes of friends and family. Extraordinarily for someone who was so much in the public eye, I have learnt so much from the saturation coverage that I have welcomed over the last few days, and it is virtually all good. It has been a welcome change from the negative, sensationalising and often conflict-seeking docu-soaps that hit the headlines on certain TV networks, to which, unfairly, members of the royal family can never really reply. The Duke of Edinburgh, above all, would have hated the tsunami of attention and all the fuss and the tributes that he is receiving now, like it or not—all the “yak, yak, yak; come on, get a move on,” as he once chided the Queen aboard the Britannia.
The outstanding theme of the accounts of the last few days has of course been the Duke’s unstinting and constant support for the Queen—“my rock”, as she called him. Indeed, it has been an outstanding partnership, and even the most hardened republican cannot but be moved by the obvious intensity of their devotion to each other in their engagement photos, which is echoed so uncannily and undiminished in the diamond wedding anniversary photos 70 years later, as if there were just a few days between them.
However, there was so much more to the Duke than as consort to Her Majesty, and I do not just mean the extraordinary success of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which virtually everybody in this House seems to have been on or to have had children who have done it. I will not repeat all the figures, but one thing that is less known is that it was designed to be disability-inclusive, at his insistence, years before disability discrimination legislation was ever a thing.
The Duke was associated with 837 organisations, with a particular focus on young people and getting them active outdoors. Those organisations included the National Playing Fields Association, now Fields in Trust, of which he was president from 1948 until 2013—65 years. It was a long-term and active hands-on commitment because early in his royal life, the Duke was said to be appalled to see children playing in the street instead of in green spaces and it became his desire to improve the situation for young people in urban areas. He raised a huge amount of money for that charity, and he recognised the power of the media to help in that fundraising. He struck up a connection with Frank Sinatra, no less, and provided the introduction to the recording of “If Only She Looked My Way”, recognised as the first charity single, which helped clear the debts of the charity by 1952.
We know about the Duke’s extraordinary, courageous military achievements and about his sporting achievements, and he was ahead of his time in so many other ways. He was a recognised environmentalist before even David Attenborough recognised that he was an environmentalist. He was an accomplished broadcaster, particularly on issues concerning technology, science and space, and of course he took a particular interest in the NASA projects.
The Duke ran the estates at Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral, and left them in a much enriched state. He was the force behind the conversion of the private chapel at Buckingham Palace into the Royal Collection to allow the public in to share the many masterpieces in that collection. He was, by all accounts, an accomplished artist himself, and commissioned over 2,000 works of art. He was a deeply serious and intellectual man, for which he is not appreciated. He loved debate, and to question and to challenge, as a result of which he set up the St George’s House conference resource at Windsor castle in 1966, hosting many distinguished speakers and debates. I was privileged to have been part of that at one time. And, of course, he was worshipped as a god on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu in the south Pacific. The Queen is merely an earthly sovereign; the Duke of Edinburgh was a god.
On one thing, however, the Duke was wrong, and I will finish on this. Because of his slightly nomadic upbringing, leading him often to give “no fixed abode” when signing visitors books, he claimed:
“My trouble is that I’ve never properly belonged anywhere.”
I think the outstanding outpouring of respect, affection, admiration and genuine sorrow at his passing from every corner of the globe since his death has shown that he actually truly belonged everywhere. In the often unfashionable places he visited, the many under-appreciated causes he supported, the impressions he left on the many millions of people whose lives he touched and in the hearts of the family, the nation and the Commonwealth he served so unflinchingly over the last almost century, our biggest tribute to him must be to just get on with it. We give thanks for an extraordinary life lived to the full, and may he rest in peace.
Before I call John Howell on the video link, I will just say that we have 53 Members who now want to contribute and they are all on the Government side, so can I encourage people to take less than the three minutes so that we get everybody in? If they take two and a bit minutes, we should do it.
As so many have done before me, I offer my condolences and those of my constituents to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family. Like many MPs, I too met the Duke of Edinburgh on a number of occasions at formal functions in London. I found him a very engaging person, who could put people easily at their ease, which he did with me. I am told that he loved to tell jokes. His jokes were designed to put people at their ease, but I do not recall him telling me one. A BBC presenter who interviewed me said that I was very lucky because few people were able to repeat his jokes in polite company.
Although we are surrounded today by sadness at the Duke’s passing, it is worth noting that he died after a long life of many achievements. Much of the press coverage has moved on to celebrating his life rather than reflecting on the sadness of his death. That is as it should be. It is worth remembering that, as Her Royal Highness Princess Anne said, the Duke’s life was
“a life well lived and service freely given”.
I, too, would like to remember the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. I have seen how it has helped so many people develop their talents and their self-confidence. I know of one young girl who is doing her Duke of Edinburgh Award in art—somewhat different from what is seen as the normal activity of the scheme. However, the effect on her has been transformational and I am sure she has learned a lot from it that will endure for a long time.
I hope that we will be able to remember the Duke of Edinburgh’s major achievements for the country through his long life and service. I wish him the peace he deserves.
It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell). Our thoughts at this time must be with the Queen and the royal family, who have lost a loved one, but of course we are celebrating a long and distinguished life, whether his military achievements, his efforts to encourage people to become environmentalists, his protection of wildlife, or particularly for me his love of science and technology, which was much to the fore in his earlier years.
I express my appreciation for the visits that the Queen and Prince Philip made to the London Borough of Harrow, the most recent during the Queen’s 2012 jubilee, when they visited Krishna Avanti Primary School. Krishna Avanti is the first state-sponsored Hindu primary school in the country and Prince Philip met children from different backgrounds, with different performances. That demonstrated Harrow’s multicultural nature. He was also present for 150th anniversary of the Harrow Zoroastrian community. That demonstrates his willingness to reach out to religions across the world and bring people together, which brings us back to celebrating his life.
Way back in 1959, Prince Philip visited Harrow Boys’ Club to celebrate its centenary. Of course, we celebrate the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and his efforts to encourage young people to participate in youth clubs and beneficial activities. The scheme started in a small way and burgeoned into an activity that is encouraged in schools and beyond.
I remember my visits to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen and Prince Philip, and the garden parties. My most vivid memory is of visiting Windsor castle as a Queen’s scout to be awarded the badge of honour when I was a very young man.
We will remember Prince Philip for his wonderful life and devoted service. I hope that, in due course, we will have a suitable memorial in the Palace of Westminster to his great, long life. There could be no greater memorial than having another royal yacht, called “Prince Philip”. I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to pay tribute to a wonderful man, who will be sadly missed.
It is a great pleasure to speak in this tribute to His Royal Highness. I offer my condolences to the Queen and the whole royal family.
We must celebrate the life of a great man—an independent man who had a huge career in the Navy and would have loved to carry it on, but his dedication to duty and to being beside the Queen meant that he played that role so well. He modernised the royal family, bringing it into the 20th and the 21st centuries. He also helped to modernise the Commonwealth. He was a huge character, but he never sought the limelight for himself. When he was interviewed on his 90th birthday, he did not know what all the fuss was about. He was a man who got on with it and did his duty.
As many others have said, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, where teams of young people build community together, is huge not only in this country but across the Commonwealth. We must also remember Prince Philip’s environmental credentials. Sixty or 70 years ago, when perhaps not everybody thought about the environment as we do today, he led the campaign as president of what was then the World Wildlife Fund. He has gone on to really help with the countryside and environment, and I pay huge tribute to him.
Prince Philip will be sadly missed by us all, but today we must celebrate, above all, a great and independent man who brought so much to this country. Although he may have said he was stateless in some ways, we adopted him as a Great British prince, and we will be very sad to lose him. Today we must celebrate a great life dedicated to duty. Again, I offer my consolation and condolences to the Queen.
When Prince Philip was asked at the age of 90 if he thought he had been successful in his role, he remarked,
“I couldn’t care less. Who cares what I think about it, I mean it’s ridiculous.”
Quite what Prince Philip would have made of 140 Members in this place, most of whom he had not met, singing his praises today is best left as a matter of conjecture. We do so, however, in our desire not just to honour a figure of great public service, but to recognise the virtues and the achievements that the man himself embodied. The consort, the leader, the pioneer and the war hero—he was a remarkable man who has forever left his mark on this great nation. We may never see his like again.
Prince Philip was modest. On being lauded for the Duke of Edinburgh’s scheme, he said that he could not take credit for the highly successful scheme:
“I don’t run it—I’ve said it’s all fairly second-hand the whole business. I mean, I eventually got landed with the responsibility or the credit for it.”
That is in direct contrast to the modern art of taking the credit for everything, no matter how limited the involvement, and taking the responsibility or blame for very little. He was self-effacing. It was His Royal Highness the Duke of Wessex who said that the best piece of advice his father gave to others was to
“talk about everything else, don’t talk about yourself—nobody’s interested in you.”
Those are wise words to us in this Chamber.
Prince Philip championed the causes that mattered to him—not just those that met the approval of the status quo or the social media brigade, but those that advanced change for the people who needed it the most, even if that meant swimming against the tide of public opinion. From raising the plight of the environment and conservation in the 1950s to the quest to reconcile evolution with Christianity in the 1980s, the prince was not interested in what was fashionable or acceptable at the time; his quest was to make this place a better one for future generations. His determination to give young people the best of opportunities must be the compass that guides us all at this particularly difficult time.
It is notable that Prince Philip reached hearts and minds in a manner in which we as politicians often come up short. His life, as reflected by the respect given in his passing, must give everyone more confidence in the powers of persuasion. His approach demonstrates that language that is direct, blunt and non-partisan is actually very welcome in this country. His advances demonstrate that people can be won round by reason if the argument is genuinely held, even for a cause that does not initially appeal.
This year, the Transport Committee has launched an inquiry into how we can deliver electric vehicle capability by the 2030 deadline. Prince Philip, always ahead of the curve, was driving around London in an electric Bedford Lucas van 40 years ago. Over the years, he also enjoyed driving school coaches, tanks, double-decker buses, bikes, classic cars and his eco-taxi. He was a supporter of the pioneers of transport. It is fitting that a man who was so fascinated by science and technology, while appreciating the simple things in life, will be carried to his final resting place in his modernised Land Rover Defender.
From the constituents of Bexhill and Battle and across this land, we send our condolences and thoughts to Her Majesty the Queen and all members of the royal family. We thank Prince Philip for his life and service, and we strive to uphold and further the causes and values that this truly great pioneer would himself have advanced.
It is a real pleasure to follow the great speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman); only he would get the Transport Committee in on a day like this, as its Chair. It is a great honour to be called to speak. While I did not have that great privilege of meeting the Duke of Edinburgh, we share an important experience—the raising of four children, particularly that quad of three sons and a daughter.
I wonder how the generation represented by my six-year-old twins will remember the Duke of Edinburgh in the decades ahead. I am absolutely confident that he will be remembered as fondly in the future as today, for the simple reason that his single greatest attribute is timeless—public service. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), our former Prime Minister, said so perfectly, this was a man of extraordinary qualities and skills, who could have achieved almost anything in what we might call a private capacity, yet he made the choice to sacrifice all that opportunity for duty—service to the Queen and, ultimately, the nation. For that, I offer profound thanks.
On behalf of my constituents, I offer my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family. I just hope that they draw some comfort from the fine speeches we have heard from all parts of the Chamber today. May he rest in peace.
We join today across this House to commemorate and celebrate the life of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. On behalf of everyone in Stoke-on-Trent, I offer my sincere condolences to the Queen and the entire royal family. Prince Philip led an incredible life of service to our nation, always at the side of our Queen and monarch over nearly 70 years. As the longest-serving consort in our history, on his own he completed more than 22,000 engagements, often fulfilled with his humorous wit and always out of commitment to Her Majesty and our country.
I will focus particularly on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme, which he started in 1956. Millions of people have benefited from the programme, including my wife, who achieved the bronze and silver awards. In Stoke-on-Trent, thousands of young people have taken part. Secondary schools such as St Thomas More and Trentham Academy encourage students to take part, with activities often undertaken in the nearby Peak district. Abbey Hill special school and Strathmore College, which both do incredible work supporting young people with disabilities or learning difficulties, have also had many of their young people undertake awards.
In Stoke-on-Trent, an area where opportunities can often be limited, the awards have had a massive impact in boosting aspirations, building opportunities to grow experience and pushing boundaries of achievement. With covid and all the challenges it has brought for our younger generations, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will continue to be more important than ever, helping to transform lives. This is his legacy, and it is the millions of lives that have benefited from the awards for which the Duke of Edinburgh will be most remembered in the years to come.
May I start by conveying my condolences and those of my constituents to Her Majesty the Queen and the rest of the royal family? Of Prince Philip’s many achievements, perhaps most visible is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, started in 1956. With nearly 7 million participants, including many in my constituency, it has benefited generations of young people, equipping them with skills and giving them confidence and a sense of independence for the rest of their lives.
I recently spoke to a lady in her 60s. The daughter of immigrants, brought up in a deprived area, she spoke fondly of her memories of the activities that she undertook as part of the scheme. One memory that she particularly cherished was the opportunity to walk up Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. It gave her enormous confidence for the rest of her life, but she made the point that, given her background and her circumstances, she would never have been able to do that were it not for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.
On a personal note, like others I had the opportunity to meet Prince Philip on a number of occasions, and on one such occasion, he asked about my background. I told him that I was of Indian origin and born in Uganda. Then we had a conversation, which made it absolutely clear to me that here was a Prince who had a real depth of knowledge. He spoke of the expulsion of the Asians from Uganda in 1972. He spoke of the individuals who came to this country with nothing but the clothes on their backs. He spoke of the success that they had made for themselves and their families. Importantly, he spoke of the contribution that these people had made to the UK generally. Here was a Prince who made a point of understanding and knowing about all the citizens in the United Kingdom.
The royal family has lost a husband, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather. We as a nation, and the Commonwealth and the rest of the world, have lost an extraordinary individual who led an exceptional life. His deeds and achievements and their impact will continue long after we are all gone.
Mr Speaker spoke earlier today about how Prince Philip has been a constant throughout his life, and for me Prince Philip has always been the figure at the side of Her Majesty the Queen at official ceremonies, and it will take some time to come to terms with his passing.
In 2013, I was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace, and the honour was extended to partners. As my wife and I were introduced to the Duke, he commented first that he did not understand why anyone would ever want to be an MP. Then, looking at my wife, he said how difficult life must be for their partners, and my wife took great comfort from his supportive words.
Over the past few days, Rugby has been remembering the Prince, with flags flying at halfmast in villages across the borough, including Hillmorton, Pailton and Monks Kirby, and a wreath has been laid inside the main gates at Caldecott Park. Rugby Borough Council has set up a virtual book of condolence for residents to share their thoughts and memories of His Royal Highness, and I am sure that many will refer to the visit to Rugby made by the Duke and the Queen on 12 May 1967. I read that a crowd of 5,000 people lined the streets outside the railway station as they arrived for a visit in two parts. The first was to Rugby’s biggest employer at that time, English Electric, to see the manufacture of turbines used in power generation. An account of the visit tells that at one stage, Prince Philip mysteriously disappeared. We have heard in tributes today about his interest in technology. His departure caused great consternation among the tour directors, and he was later discovered chatting to workers in the canteen. From what we have heard about him in these tributes, we know that was certainly in character.
The royal party then moved on to Rugby School, which in 1967 was celebrating its 400th anniversary. The Queen opened the gates on Barby Road, which are the gates that visitors pass through to see the tablet that commemorates the exploits of William Webb Ellis in breaking the rules of football to create the rugby game. The game of rugby has its own connection with the Duke of Edinburgh through the DofE Awards, with thousands of young people engaged through their local rugby clubs. We have heard from Members today about the fantastic impact of the programme, which encourages skills for life and work such as confidence, commitment and teamworking—values very much at the heart of the game of rugby. In this area, the legacy of the Duke of Edinburgh will live on.
The people of Rugby will express their thanks for the life of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at a special service in our parish church, St Andrew’s, this coming Sunday. It is a great regret that the current restrictions will restrict the numbers who are able to attend, but I know that the deep affection in which he is held would result in the church being filled many times over.
We always remember where we were when significant events occur, and last Friday at midday I was at my constituency home in Ramsgate. I was on the telephone with my right hon. Friend the Member for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale), and I heard a gasp and an expletive down the line—he had just heard—and he then related to me the sad news. That was a moment in time that I will not forget. I knew at once that a page in our nation’s history had turned.
We give thanks for a long life very well lived, and for Prince Philip’s steadfast support for our gracious Queen. We give our thanks to a devoted servant to our country and thus to all of us, a stalwart of our Commonwealth and a stable rock in a very troubled and changing world. He was a towering character who has always been there throughout the lives of every one of us in this Chamber. Indeed, he married the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947, before all but a handful of Members of this place were even born.
It was surprising how little we knew of the man during his life. I had the privilege of meeting him twice, and both events had their classic moments that only Prince Philip could bring to an occasion, but those must be stories for another day. I feel that I have learned so much more about him over these past 80 hours, thanks to the extensive coverage in the media since Friday—coverage that I believe has been exemplary, well researched and properly respectful. I did not previously know that he was present in Tokyo bay when the Japanese signed the instrument of surrender, or the extent to which he was virtually stateless as a young child. I knew little of his exemplary wartime naval service being mentioned in dispatches, or about the true depth of his involvement with the charities he was associated with or the varied interests he had. I do now.
The nation must turn now to considering a fitting memorial to that great life. Obviously, statues are being proposed, but my suggestion, as a permanent working symbol of his life and interests, is for a new multiple-use ship bearing his name, for use as a training ship, a humanitarian vessel, a mobile embassy and a UK trade platform, proudly designed and built in the UK as an overdue replacement for the royal yacht Britannia, which he loved so deeply. It would be a true complementary vessel to the carriers Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales. This should not be fanciful. It would reflect this country’s historical attachment to the sea, Prince Philip’s love of the naval service and his commitment to youth training. It would be a continuing glue for the Commonwealth, a proper platform to promote global Britain and a secure location for the royal family. I hope that that can have wider national debate and proper consideration. Rest in peace, sir, and may the thoughts and blessings from all across my South Thanet constituency be upon Her Majesty.
We have 87 minutes left and 43 more speakers, so if Members could speak for under three minutes that will help others get in.
On behalf of the constituents of Waveney, I extend their and my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and all her family on the sad passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been at her side for more than 73 years. The post-war era, the second Elizabethan age, has been a period of dramatic change and, in some respects, revolution. It has not been straightforward for Great Britain, but by and large our countries have evolved, have weathered the storms and have made the most of the new-found opportunities. Much credit for this should go to Prince Philip. He displayed three important virtues, the first being unstinting service and loyalty to the Queen, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
The second was that he was a man who was ahead of his time. We politicians can at times be accused of leaping on to bandwagons. He was very often the person who kickstarted those bandwagons and got them rolling, whether that was endorsing the white heat of technology in the 1950s, setting about transforming the lives of so many people through the launch of the scheme that carries his name, or through the recognition of the threat to wildlife and the environment.
Thirdly, while he could perhaps be blunt, he was a down-to-earth person with no airs and graces. On 6 May 1953, he visited Richards shipyard in Lowestoft. To commemorate the occasion, a mould was made for a plaque. Into this, the Duke was invited to pour the molten metal. Having done so, he asked the foundry foreman, Jimmy Sayer, “Was that all right?” Jimmy cleaned the casting with a wire brush, and on being shown he plaque, Prince Philip commented, “It’s a bloody miracle.”
For many in Lowestoft, he was cast from the same mould. A man of the sea, he was patron of the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club. In the four year period from 1953 to 1956, he made three visits to shipyards in the town: two to Richards and one to Brook Marine. In 1978, he opened the Bill Solomon Room at Lowestoft Maritime Museum, and in 1985, he accompanied Her Majesty the Queen on a visit that included a visit to the Lowestoft Museum in Oulton Broad.
This is a moment of sadness, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Queen and her family. We should consider how best to leave an enduring legacy that lasts in perpetuity for this remarkable man, doing all that we can to ensure that the Duke of Edinburgh Awards continue to help young people from all backgrounds to realise their full potential, and making sure that we never overlook the strategic importance of coastal Britain.
I share with my constituents in west Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly a tremendous sense of respect for and pride in the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. It was deeply saddening to hear of the passing of Prince Philip, and I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to a man who lived a life of service, and a life that touched many people around the world.
Of all the tributes to which I have listened over the weekend and today, the references to Prince Philip’s ability to draw people of faith together in response to conservation are what I wish to highlight this evening. Prince Philip could have chosen much easier themes, but he was right to recognise that world religions and people of faith should be natural partners for the conservation movement. People of faith grow up knowing that we have a responsibility to care for our natural environment and the world that we are privileged to occupy—that is certainly how I was raised. However, I believe that the Duke of Edinburgh expected more than an individual sense of responsibility. He demonstrated that in his leadership of the 1986 summit in which representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism pledged to protect the environment. The summit took place only because of Prince Philip’s commitment and resolve. As a first-world leader, rallying faith groups in that way, he demonstrated a confidence and belief that religions were able and ready to protect our natural environment.
In the past few years, we have been reminded of how critical that issue is. Of all the things that will mark a life well lived and something by which to be remembered, Prince Philip’s call to action, in defence of our planet, will ensure that the future of people around the world will be better than what might have been. In closing, I extend my sincere condolences, and those of my constituents, to Her Majesty the Queen
The Duke of Edinburgh represented the zeitgeist of a changing Britain. He was born just after the world last witnessed a devastating pandemic, and his contribution to humanity from 1921 to 2021 is unparalleled.
“Prince Philip saved our lives that night”—
these words, spoken by one of the Duke’s crew members, came as a result of his extraordinary bravery in world war two, when he was credited with saving HMS Wallace. Following that difficult period in world history, the Duke, with Her Majesty the Queen, brought renewed hope in the post-war period and the decades that followed. His background and influences very much represented a changing Britain. From his connections overseas to his schooling in Gordonstoun in Scotland, he was very much a man of our Union and a gentleman of the Commonwealth.
From listening to fellow MPs today, it is striking how the Duke covered every blade of grass in our kingdom. I presume that very few of us will ever know this country as well as he did. “A gentleman he was”—that is what a Boltonian said about the Duke in relation to his past visits to our town.
We hold many memorable moments close in our hearts, including visits to officially open Water Place in 1988, and more recently a visit to Warburtons in 2009, not to mention the wealth of contributions for future generations made through the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Students at Bolton School, which was named the largest independent school provider of the scheme in the north-west, will continue to benefit from the Duke’s legacy.
I will end here. As the Duke said on one of his many public engagements,
“I made the best speech of my life for the Olympic Games in Melbourne, it only had 5 words”.
On behalf of everyone in Bolton North East, let me say that our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty the Queen and all her family at this very sad and difficult time.
I welcome this extraordinary recall of Parliament. I declare my interests: I am a patron of the British Monarchists Society and a member of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners—His Royal Highness Prince Philip was our master and then our admiral.
His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was an extraordinary man. His military service was exemplary, and he was one of the youngest officers in the Royal Navy to see action in world war two. He was awarded the Greek Cross of Valour, and was mentioned in dispatches for his service during the battle of Cape Matapan.
His Royal Highness was the patron or president of more than 800 organisations. He founded the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which has brought out the best in the young people in my community, and attended more than 22,000 engagements. He also had the foresight to be a passionate, vocal advocate of many environmental issues and organisations.
Prince Philip visited my constituency twice officially over the years. In 1995, he crossed Morecambe bay at low tide from Silverdale to Kents Bank on a horse-drawn carriage accompanied by Cedric Robinson, the Queen’s Guide to the Sands. It was the first time that was done for more than 130 years. In 1999, Prince Philip accompanied the Queen to unveil the Eric Morecambe statue in Morecambe to honour her most famous son. I know that they were both fans of Morecambe and Wise, as we all are, and that more than endeared the royals to my community in Morecambe.
This is a sad time for the nation. Along with my community, I convey our heartfelt sadness for the great loss to Her Majesty the Queen, Duke of Lancaster and the royal family. God save the Queen.
It is a very great privilege to be able to pay tribute to Prince Philip on behalf of my constituents in Telford.
Prince Philip first came to Telford on a warm, sunny day in July 1972 on one of the 22,000 solo engagements that we just heard about. He came to see our new town while it was still under construction and to meet people who had just moved to a brand new estate known as Brookside. People were so delighted that he had made the effort to see their new town and their new lives, and to talk to them personally. He had a genuine interest in new towns, as we have already heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon). When Prince Philip was in Telford, he took the time to examine the plans and model for the new town centre. Importantly, he also wanted to understand what it meant to people to move to a new town and start a new life. There was a sense of optimism that day, and of hope for better times to come. For some, it was a day that they will never forget: they recall Prince Philip’s empathy and openness, and how he made them feel at ease with his humour.
A lifetime of service to others; a lifetime of service to Queen and country—what a remarkable inspiration to us all. I hope that on 10 June, which would have been his 100th birthday, we may be able to attend memorial services across the country to give thanks for his life. My constituents in Telford would very much like to express their deep gratitude for a remarkable life that touched theirs in so many ways, and their deep sympathy with Her Majesty on her loss.
It is a great honour and privilege to pay tribute today, on behalf of the constituents of Penrith and The Border, to His Royal Highness.
Prince Philip was a true public servant, serving the Queen, the country and the Commonwealth with humbling dedication. He had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, including active service in world war two. In many ways, he was a trailblazer in raising the profile and importance of looking after our planet and all that is on it, with his pioneering work with organisations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
In setting up the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, he influenced the lives of literally millions of young people through a life-affirming programme that exists in over 130 countries. Cumbria is blessed with natural settings that allow people to enjoy nature through schemes such as the DofE and in outdoor education centres such as Blencathra and the Outward Bound Trust centres, which Prince Philip visited as the trust’s patron. Sadly, the pandemic has halted many of the activities for our young people that are encapsulated by the DofE and outdoor education. It is heartening that those sectors are set to re-open; I know that they will once again play a big part in our young people’s lives.
Sadly, I did not have the honour of meeting Prince Philip, but a constituent, Debbie Wicks, whose family knew him well in the world of carriage driving, shared this with me:
“Prince Philip, the Royal family and carriage driving were (and remain) an important part of our lives. Prince Philip was an exceptional horseman, a keen competitor and liked to be treated as other competitors at events. I remember when he was driving his Fell ponies at Lowther in Cumbria and they came to the water obstacle—now obstacles are meant to be driven in the fastest speed possible, but nobody had briefed the Prince’s Fell ponies, who naturally thought they would stop for a drink. Prince Philip didn’t agree—and needless to say with his honest and frank approach the language was ‘ripe’!”
We have heard much today about Prince Philip’s humour and humanity. That should remind us above all that the royal family are humans just like the rest of us, grieving the loss of a much-loved family member. Our prayers are with Her Majesty and her family at this time. Rest in peace, Prince Philip; in your own words, you’ve done your bit.
It is a great honour to contribute to this Humble Address on behalf of my constituents in Wealden in East Sussex, as the House celebrates and records tributes to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip. I express our heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family at this time of personal loss.
The Duke will be greatly missed by so many locals in Wealden, as he had long links to the area on so many levels. One example dates back to the 1960s. The Duke was a patron of London Youth and was instrumental in setting up an outdoor youth project called Hindleap where, nestled in a forest, London kids got to explore new skills. I recall meeting the Duke at Hindleap—he was utterly charming. He was obviously very frank with his banter: on shaking my hand, he declared that MPs were getting younger and younger these days. I took it as a compliment.
As Members can see, the Duke was one of those rare people who can span generations and people of all backgrounds. He touched us with his infectious enthusiasm: all the kids in Hindleap, these London kids, were just beaming from their momentary introduction to the Prince.
If our small interactions with the Duke had such a lasting effect, one cannot imagine the impact of the loss on Her Majesty, having had 73 years of companionship from a loving husband. It was by all accounts a very modern love affair. The Prince was a modern man and recognised his role in the life of his leading wife. I want to reflect on a letter he wrote on his honeymoon in 1947 to his mother-in-law the Queen. He wrote:
“Lilibet is the only ‘thing’ in the world which is absolutely real to me and my ambition is to weld the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us but will have a positive existence for the good”.
The Prince was thinking about public service on his honeymoon. The letter continues:
“Cherish Lilibet? I wonder if that word is enough to express what is in me. Does one cherish one’s sense of humour or one’s musical ear or one’s eyes? I am not sure, but I know that I thank God for them and so, very humbly, I thank God for Lilibet and us.”
What a love letter! We can all thank God for the huge good done by the Duke’s choosing to devote himself to Queen, country and Commonwealth—the huge good done over seven decades by the power of the combined existence of the Duke and the Queen.
The Duke will be fondly remembered and much missed. On behalf of Wealden, I humbly send our heartfelt sympathies to Her Majesty. God save the Queen.
It is a great pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani), who shared such beautiful words from Prince Philip about his beloved wife. I am deeply honoured to have the opportunity to pay tribute to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. As we mourn his passing, I send not only my sincere condolences but those of many constituents in Wolverhampton North East to Her Majesty the Queen, to Prince Philip’s wider family and to all those who loved him.
I was moved by the words of Princess Anne that she wished to emulate her father’s
“example of a life well lived and service freely given”.
The Duke’s example of service to others was simply extraordinary. From his early career in the Royal Navy to being “strength and stay” to our Queen for over seven decades, his life was an example of duty and selflessness that we must celebrate.
His Royal Highness visited Wolverhampton on several occasions. The earliest visit was in 1948, when he came to view industrial sites; the most recent was in 2014, with Her Majesty the Queen, to open the new Jaguar Land Rover factory in Fordhouses.
The Duke had a keen interest in industry, innovation, engineering and conservation, and he will be remembered for his bright, curious mind, his drive and determination to get things done, and for his wonderful, quick sense of humour. I remember Prince Philip’s visit in 2009 to one of the schools I taught at, Box Hill, where he opened the new music block. This was one of over 22,000 royal engagements that Prince Philip completed. As always, this visit was carried out with genuine interest and obvious enthusiasm.
Box Hill, like Gordonstoun, was founded on the principles of Kurt Hahn, supporting young people to overcome diverse challenges, value service to others, find their talents and develop into confident young adults. From these principles came Prince Philip’s most enduring legacy, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. To measure the value and size of his legacy, we should listen to award winners speak about how the skills they learned and the confidence they gained changed their lives and changed their life chances.
To leave this world knowing we have changed even a few lives for the better should be something we all strive for. The Duke of Edinburgh leaves this world having changed millions of lives around the world for the better. His scheme will continue to change many millions more. I am so grateful to be able to put on record my thanks for the life of such an amazing man, who used his position for the benefit and service of others. Indeed this was a life well lived. May he rest in peace.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on this Humble Address. I offer my sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen on the death of her beloved husband the Duke of Edinburgh. I know I speak on behalf of my residents in South West Hertfordshire when I say that his passing has been sorely felt, not just by Her Majesty and the whole royal family, but by people up and down our United Kingdom and across the world.
I have listened to much of today’s tribute, and it is a reflection of the Duke of Edinburgh’s legacy that many colleagues have spoken so fondly of him. In many ways, today is our chance to celebrate his life. I was never fortunate enough to meet the Duke of Edinburgh, but I was well aware of his impact well before I came to this place.
Other right hon. and hon. Members have spoken of the wonderful Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which he founded in 1956. Millions of young people across over 130 countries have benefited from his idea. I really feel that I have missed out when others speak so highly of its effect on their own life journey. In my constituency, I sometimes see groups of young adults trekking towards the Chilterns, and often wonder whether they are part of one of the award’s activities. I know many of my constituents proudly speak of when Prince Philip opened the Knox Johnston sports centre at Berkhamsted School in 2004, a school with a proud association with adult education and the DofE Award.
Prince Philip will always be fondly remembered across the Commonwealth. His support for the Commonwealth started before Her Majesty’s coronation in 1953, and his interest in international affairs and the environment ensured that he was always warmly welcomed wherever and whenever he was representing the Crown. The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, says it better than I could:
“Past, present and future generations of Commonwealth citizens owe a debt of gratitude to Prince Philip for remaining constant and steadfast in his commitment to the Commonwealth, and his assuredness and vision of its global importance.”
His focus on projects and programmes for cultivating understanding and self-reliance, and other pioneering initiatives, demonstrated through action that Prince Philip was a man not afraid of doing the right thing, and one who cared passionately for his subjects. We thank him for his exceptional public service. The Duke was an inspiration to many people across multiple generations for decades.
I close by sending my good wishes and sympathy to his family and Her Majesty the Queen. May he rest in peace.
I am here today to express the heartfelt condolences of the people of Derbyshire Dales to Her Majesty and her family on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He was truly a man among men, in times of both war and peace. His steadfast sense of duty and public service, as well as his sense of humour, will be missed in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and internationally. His was truly a lifetime of service.
A 2018 YouGov survey revealed that no fewer than 22% of those polled had either seen or met Prince Philip. This would have been in the course of the many thousands of official engagements he had carried out up and down the country. I was one of those many people who saw him on such an occasion. It was in August 1974; I was just nine years old at the time, on a family holiday in Scotland. We saw Prince Philip from the roadside as he visited the Highlands Fabricators yard on the Cromarty firth, which was manufacturing oil rigs for use by BP in the North sea, something on which British engineering had led the way. This visit was just one of many examples of Prince Philip’s lifelong interest in, and commitment to, British engineering, excellence and innovation.
I asked one of my constituents in Derbyshire Dales, a Royal Marine to whose unit—41 Commando—Prince Philip had presented its colours in 1961, how he would describe the Duke. “As a hero”, he responded simply. That is, in many ways, a very apt description of Prince Philip. Of course, he was a decorated war hero in the international global struggle to defeat national socialism and fascism. He had both witnessed, and helped to make, history. Together with Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Philip has been part of the cement that held together this great United Kingdom. On his watch, Britain emerged from the grey post-war years to be the vibrant, buoyant and multi-faceted country that we are today. The people from Derbyshire Dales are grateful for this life. God save the Queen.
We have just about an hour left, and Members can see that there are still names on the call list, so I encourage people to speak for two minutes or less, please.
Echoing all Members who have spoken so far, my deepest condolences go out to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family during these difficult times. It is entirely fitting for Parliament to be recalled for us to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh on this sad occasion. As there are so many Members yet to speak, I will keep my remarks short.
My social media channels and inbox have been flooded with messages of condolence and support from my West Bromwich East constituents. We love the royal family here in West Bromwich East. As Prince Edward said over the weekend, it feels as though we have all, collectively, lost the grandfather of the nation. The outpouring of tributes and emotion from the public has been simply wonderful. I make special mention of my own nan, who gave me many books on the royals from a young age and encouraged my own love for the monarchy. An interest in and love for the royal family was not optional in my family.
For those who have not seen it, the local Express & Star ran a lovely piece on its website over the weekend, which featured Prince Philip’s numerous visits to the Black Country, including a trip in 1971 to open Tipton Sports Union’s new stadium. Perhaps Prince Philip’s lasting legacy will be the famous Duke of Edinburgh Award, which has enhanced so many young lives. As the active figurehead of the award for so many years, Prince Philip provided generations of young people with hope and inspiration. It is staggering to think that around 300,000 young people are doing the award at any one time.
One of the Duke’s major passions was encouraging young people to get involved in all sorts of activities. He was never content with sitting back and taking it easy. He brought his enthusiasm to everything he did. He was an inspiration to us all, from his service in the Royal Navy to his duties as royal consort at the Queen’s side for so many years. Above all, I will remember His Royal Highness as a symbol of Britain’s decency and courage in the world, here and across the Commonwealth.
On behalf of all my constituents in West Bromwich East, thank you, Prince Philip, for your service to our country and for the way you touched so many lives. You were the best of Britain.
Earlier today, I was searching for a biography of the Duke of Edinburgh on a well-known online shopping platform. Among the commemorative mugs, key rings and general Duke-related bric-a-brac that filled the virtual shelves, one item caught my eye. It was a T-shirt emblazoned with a large photo of a clearly irritated Duke pointing at the camera. It carried the simple caption, “Take the bloody photo!”
I was struck by the sheer variety of books and pamphlets in which His Royal Highness had a hand. He was a truly extraordinary man: a war hero, a pioneer, and a devoted and steadfast partner to Her Majesty the Queen. Surely there can be no more fitting metaphor for his service to our country than his final resting place, Windsor castle, for he was the Queen’s fortress and her stronghold. He gave up his promising career in the Royal Navy to be with her, to serve at her side, and he remained by her side, her loyal guide and companion, until the very last.
In so many ways, Prince Philip was ahead of his time. He saw the need to protect our natural world long before many others were persuaded. The Duke of Edinburgh Award shaped and steered so many young lives. A highly perceptive man, he was acutely aware of the need for the monarchy to evolve with the nation. He devised new ways to help people to feel more connected to the royal family. Britain today is almost unrecognisable from the country it was at the start of the Queen’s reign, but the monarchy is still at the heart of public life and affection. That is in no small part thanks to the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Duke’s long life and career of service touched every corner of the country. Here in Rushcliffe, people recall with pride his visits to the cricket at Trent Bridge and the football at City Ground. He has been at the centre of our national life for over seven decades. We will not be the same without him. My heart and the hearts of people in Rushcliffe go out to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. A nation mourns with her.
It is a privilege to speak in this debate, and on behalf of my constituents, I would like to convey my condolences to Her Majesty and the royal family on their loss. With the passing of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, our nation has been left poorer. We have lost one of the greatest symbols of public service that we have had—a man who put his country and family and his wife above all else, and a role model for us all.
Many of my constituents have contacted me to express their great sadness, and I am grateful for all the dedications that have been made to honour His Royal Highness across the constituency. In particular, I thank Castle Bromwich parish council, Chadwick End parish council, Hampton-in-Arden church and Knowle church. The support and love for the royal family and for Her Majesty remain strong wherever you are in my constituency, and I am proud to represent such fine people.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s commitment to public life, the Royal Navy, the youth of our nation, our planet and, of course, Her Majesty as her consort was unparalleled. As public servants ourselves, as parliamentarians, we can only aspire to emulate such a life of dedication. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme has transformed the lives of so many. I, too, participated in the scheme and found myself climbing mountains and supporting local community activities, instilling a level of confidence without which, quite frankly, I would not have been part of this House.
When someone of this stature passes, it is natural to reflect on what it takes to create a legacy. The test of someone’s legacy, in my view, is not the letters after their name or the number of statues created in their honour, but rather the people who have been impacted by that individual and had their lives changed for the better. Remarkably, the Duke of Edinburgh will be remembered by millions across the country and the world despite never having met them. Over the coming days, life will start to return to a degree of normality. Many will be visiting pubs with friends and family, and I ask them, while respecting covid guidelines, to raise a glass to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. May he rest in peace, and God save the Queen.
Norfolk, and particularly Sandringham in my constituency, was a special place for the Duke of Edinburgh, and I pay tribute to his incredibly rich life and immense service to Her Majesty the Queen and to our country. The estate has long been held in strong affection by the royal family, with George V describing
“dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world”.
The Duke of Edinburgh took on management of the estate at the start of Her Majesty’s reign and put conservation at the heart of his approach. It was at Sandringham, aged 50, that he decided to try carriage driving, saying,
“well, we’ve got horses and carriages so why don’t I have a go?”
In his typically pioneering way, he established carriage driving as a sport and won team gold at the world championship.
When the Duke retired from public life in 2017, he chose Wood Farm at Sandringham as his home, enjoying its sanctuary to read, paint and entertain. In the historic villages around Sandringham, there are small, close-knit communities where there is great respect and admiration for him. Villagers recall how approachable the Duke was, the keen interest he took in their lives and how he enjoyed chatting at the sawmill and other parts of the estate to find out the gossip and how things were going. Prince Philip, Her Majesty and the royal family are much-loved members of these communities. On Christmas day, Prince Philip would lead the royal family to church, striding ahead and talking to the crowds. He opened village and school halls and unveiled the plaque at Snettisham in memory of those who lost their lives in the 1953 floods. He was generous in giving support and time to local groups away from the spotlight.
People in west Norfolk are rightly proud and protective of our royal links. That is why those communities feel that they have lost not only a remarkable national and international figure and their Queen’s husband but a much-loved one of their own. On behalf of the people of North West Norfolk, I send the deepest condolences to Her Majesty and to the royal family.
It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for North West Norfolk (James Wild). We meet today to honour and remember Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh—a man who devoted his life to this country for over 70 years. At the end of a year in which many have been kept away from their families, it has been poignant to read the words of love and tribute released by the prince’s children and grandchildren. The affection with which they held him is clear to see. The prince’s last public visit to my constituency of Ynys Môn was to visit the grandson who once described him as “a legend”. It should be no surprise that Prince William pursued a career as a search and rescue helicopter pilot at RAF Valley, given his grandfather’s avid support of both military and outdoor pursuits.
As an island that hosts a wealth of outdoor recreation, Anglesey owes much to the patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh. He was chair of the Central Council of Physical Recreation for nearly 70 years, patron of the National Playing Fields Association, two-time president of the Royal Yachting Association, former president of the British Sub-Aqua Club and patron of the Camping and Caravanning Club. The Prince was deeply committed to encouraging others to take up outdoor pursuits. Possibly his greatest legacy will be the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which he established in 1956, describing it as a
“do-it-yourself growing up kit”.
A core element of his award is the famous expedition, inspired by the first ever Outward Bound centre here in north Wales. For thousands of young people from all backgrounds, that offered their first opportunity to enjoy hiking and sleeping under canvas. Many pitched at local sites, such as the Anglesey Outdoor Centre, to enjoy that experience. Indeed, members of my team here on the island took part in the award scheme on Ynys Môn. Like millions of others, the patronage of the prince gave them the opportunity to expand their horizons and learn new skills.
To our Majesty the Queen, on behalf of my constituents on Ynys Môn I offer sympathy, support, and affection at this difficult time. We honour the memory of Prince Philip, and thank God for his lifetime of service to our country. Although he may be gone from our sight, he will never be absent from our hearts.
As I listened to this debate’s opening tributes, the contribution by Mr Speaker described His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh very aptly. It was a description that many people across the United Kingdom would recognise and agree with: the father of the nation. Since his sad passing on Friday, I have watched tributes pour in from every corner of this country and beyond. Kings, Prime Ministers and Presidents have joined butchers, scrap metal dealers and postmen to describe the humour, intelligence and humanity of this special man. Locally in Hyndburn and Haslingden, many people have been sharing the photos they captured during the royal visit of 2012 to mark the diamond jubilee. Every photo I have seen of the occasion, and every person with those memories, share one telling similarity—they are all smiling.
As we mourn together, many of us mourn a man of true dedication and service. A man who was a much loved public figure, but first and foremost a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather. Behind the public face, the thousands of engagements, the hundreds of charities, and the decades of service, we find a man who loved a good barbeque. That resounds with us all, and not only the barbeque. As I spoke to constituents this weekend, the sense of loss of a man who truly gave his life to this country, and who brought meaning to many young people’s lives, and gave them opportunities for adventure, contribution, self-improvement and empowerment, was palpable.
Like many hon. Members, I suspect I was one of a fortunate band who headed off on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition. As it happens, I am sure many of my team on that expedition wish we had not done so, as I immediately led them in the wrong direction for nearly an hour, adding extra distance to the already long journey ahead. Another thing I remember is that the bag was definitely bigger than I was. I will remember that expedition for the rest of my life, as I am sure will my team mates, and all those across the country who were given that opportunity. That is the secret of the Duke’s enduring popularity. He was not flashy or brash; he simply got on with the job, and in doing so made a huge contribution to our society. As we meet here today to remember the life of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, on behalf of Hyndburn and Haslingden, I thank him for everything he has done for our country. I thank his family for sharing him with us all. May he rest in peace.
I will not take up the House’s time with my take on His Royal Highness’s life of service, but I share the sentiments so well expressed throughout this debate. I particularly appreciated the moving speeches made earlier by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
I wish to make a suggestion about the future. The Prime Minister suggested that in due course our attention should turn to an appropriate memorial to Prince Philip, and I hope it is not premature to try to influence that debate. Prince Philip’s great predecessor, Prince Albert, has a huge golden statue facing a vast concert hall named after him in South Kensington. I humbly suggest that we might do things differently this time. Surely what the Duke of Edinburgh will be remembered for most is the scheme he founded for young people of all backgrounds, for them to push their boundaries, to strive, to seek, to find themselves, and to serve others. As we emerge from the shadow of covid-19, we owe young people a better future. We need them to make that future, not just to wait for Government or older people to fix things for them. The DofE is the single best model of a national youth programme that we have. I hope the Government will build on the legacy of Prince Philip and extend the DofE, combine it with the brilliant National Citizen Service and make use of the money available under the kickstart scheme and the national apprenticeship programme to help the rising generation to be their best and to do their best for their country. That is the way to honour the memory of Prince Philip and to take his name forward into the new age that is opening.
It is a privilege to participate in this tribute to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. On behalf of people in my constituency, I would like to offer my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen.
After over 100 speakers and some wonderful tributes to Prince Philip, I will keep my remarks brief. I have often thought that the concept of public service is perhaps a bit old-fashioned, but after hearing the tributes to him today and the recognition of his service, I am rethinking that. I believe in public service, and it is clear that he did. None of us could get close to his years of public service—not just his years in the military, but his over 70 years as husband and consort to the sovereign.
I have been reflecting on how unique Prince Philip’s position was. In 1,000 years of British history, we have had only six undisputed female sovereign monarchs. Three of those reigned jointly or did not have a husband. That means that Prince Philip is one of only three men in the past 1,000 years to have had the same experience. There is no role model. This is a really difficult job, which you start by kneeling at the feet of your wife, and that cannot be easy. Probably the closest comparison is Prince Albert—a loving marriage, a sense of a duty and perhaps a legacy reflecting forward thinking and innovation.
I think Prince Philip’s legacy will be long lived. The ideal of public service that he represents is a legacy to be proud of, and that is why he will have our thanks and admiration.
I wish to add my sincere condolences to those that have been expressed by all Members of the House, and from across the nation and indeed the world, to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family for their loss.
We in Stoke-on-Trent have been incredibly touched by the outpouring of love and messages for the Duke of Edinburgh this past weekend. The many tributes, articles and TV specials have offered a fascinating insight into his upbringing, which was not without its adversity, and into his strength of character, which inspired many across our four nations—a fact exemplified not least by the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Prince Philip understood the importance of young people challenging their self-limiting beliefs. The award gave post-war youngsters in Britain a sense of achievement and the opportunity to learn new life skills and to build personal resilience. Some 65 years on, the scheme has expanded to 144 countries, and over 8 million young people worldwide have taken part in it.
Prince Philip’s legacy will be the continuation and expansion of the work he started many decades ago. His extensive travels around the Commonwealth representing the Crown, and his interest in wildlife and the environment, afforded him great insight into the threats to our planet. He spoke out about climate change 50 years before the issues became widely understood.
When Prince Philip became consort to the Queen at only 30, and she became Queen at only 25, he asked, “What do you expect me to do?” and was met with blank looks. With no precedent set since Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, the path the Duke of Edinburgh went on to forge, the charities he went on to champion and the issues he successfully pioneered are nothing short of remarkable—and he did all of that while never failing in his duty as a liege man of life and limb to the Queen and making a nation laugh along the way.
As we battle a global pandemic, it is only fitting that we honour the memory of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh by ensuring that his work continues apace. For now, I will close by reaffirming that Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family are in our thoughts and prayers at this sad time.
I speak in this debate to represent the people of Hastings and Rye, who hold Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and the royal family in great affection and respect. On behalf of the residents of Hastings and Rye, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family on their loss. Our hearts are with them in this time of sorrow.
The monarchy and our royal family are priceless to our country. Hastings has a long-standing relationship with royalty, dating back to 1066, and that long and proud association also characterises Prince Philip’s life of service, duty and devotion. He was part of our national life for over 70 years, providing us all with stability, humour, inspiration and, yes, at times challenge. In Hastings we had the good fortune to receive Prince Philip back in 1966, when he accompanied Her Majesty the Queen on a visit to the town. On that visit, he was made an honorary member of the famous Hastings Winkle Club, whose other notable members included Sir Winston Churchill, the Queen Mother and our present monarch.
Many Members have spoken today of the Duke of Edinburgh’s impressive military service; his selfless and lengthy public service to the Crown and to this country; and, perhaps most importantly of all, the unseen devotion, support and love that he provided to the Queen throughout 73 years of marriage. However, I want to focus on one of Prince Philip’s most important legacies, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, as many Members have done today. The Duke knew about the pressures faced by young people and was an advocate for them, believing in each individual’s potential. He wanted to encourage young people to take on new experiences and to develop themselves into more rounded people through character building. The volunteering section, in particular, gives young people the ability to think about the needs of others, and to give time to helping others, and for no tangible reward. This is more important now than ever before, with the distractions of social media and, often, self-preoccupation.
Prince Philip was hugely important to the people of this country, the Commonwealth and many other parts of the world, and we will continue to hold a special place in our hearts for him. May perpetual light shine upon him, and may he rest in eternal peace.
On behalf of the residents of Congleton, I pay tribute to and give thanks for the life of dedicated service of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and convey our sincerest sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family. I hope and trust that the Queen’s deep faith in Christ, which she has publicly referred to many times, will be of great comfort at this time.
Although less publicly expressed by the late Duke, many who knew him have testified to the depth of his faith also. Indeed, although he is often described as a man of action, it is less well known that he was also very much a thinker, with a theologically inquiring mind. He invested time to understand, discuss and reflect on matters of faith. He founded St George’s House at Windsor, a conference centre where clergy and lay people gather to discuss and explore issues. The theme of their first meeting in 1966 was: “The role of the Church in society today.”
Prince Philip authored or collaborated on a number of books, three of them notably about matters of faith. The first, published in 1984, was an exchange of letters between himself and the then Dean of Windsor, entitled “A Windsor Correspondence”, which considered a range of subjects, such as science and Christianity. In another book, “A Question of Balance”, the Duke concluded:
“Religious conviction is the strongest and probably the only factor in sustaining the dignity and integrity of the individual.”
He proved himself ahead of his time with a third book, as its title, “Survival or Extinction: A Christian Attitude to the Environment”, clearly conveys.
Prince Philip promoted interfaith dialogue long before its importance was widely recognised, as it is today. In 1986, he gathered leaders of a range of world faiths to consider with environmentalists how together they could work to better sustain the natural world. In 1995, he furthered this aim by founding the Alliance of Religions and Conservation.
In closing, and speaking as the Prime Minister’s special envoy for freedom of religion or belief, I refer to the tribute from the Council of Christians and Jews, which expressed gratitude for Prince Philip’s contribution to strengthening relationships between those faiths and expressed confidence that for
“those who work for reconciliation and cooperation between people of different faiths and communities”,
“legacy of quiet and faithful service will continue to be an inspiration to all”.
It is a pleasure to be able to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip. I do so having heard 114 other speeches today that have referred to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which I did not do, or to having met him, which I did not do, so rather than use a personal anecdote, I thought I would tell the House about the special link and bond between the Duke of Edinburgh and Dartmouth town and the Britannia Royal Naval College.
Of course, it was there that, in 1939, Prince Philip met the then Princess Elizabeth, and a lifetime of happiness and 73 years of marriage speak for themselves, but it was also at that college and in that town that he was prepared for a life of service within the military. We have already heard from many about his time there, but he received a mention in dispatches. At the age of 21, he was made the youngest first lieutenant in the Navy. His career, despite the horrors of war, was marked by continued success and promotion—not because of who he was, but because of the recognition of his talent and his ability.
In the post-war years, Prince Philip continued to visit Dartmouth and to play an active role in the Britannia Royal Medical Colleges, taking the salute at the passing-out parades. These visits were not just fêted, but appreciated by the cadets and the town folk alike. So it is particularly relevant that, today, the First Sea Lord is in Dartmouth and, along with the captain of the college and the cadets, will be marking that special link between His Royal Highness and Dartmouth and the naval college. He leaves an indelible mark on south Devon that will be commemorated today, and I am sure celebrated in future years.
Prince Philip’s was a life marked not just by his own achievements, but by the impact he had on so many others. Throughout his life, he exhibited the qualities of loyalty, duty and service that are together so unique and rare to be found in one person. All I can say is that the people of Dartmouth, Totnes, Kingsbridge, Brixham, Paignton, Salcombe and south Devon send our deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family, and we express our thanks for the remarkable life and service of this extraordinary man.
On behalf of the residents of Kensington, I would like to pay the deepest tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, who gave a lifetime of service to our nation and to the Commonwealth. Prince Philip had a long association with my constituency of Kensington. As a boy, he spent time at Kensington Palace in the apartments of his maternal grandmother, who was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
Like his predecessor Prince Albert, Prince Philip was very much a man ahead of his time, and I want to focus briefly on three particular aspects: his passion for science and technology; his support for young people; and his advocacy for the environment and conservation.
Prince Philip had long and deep links with the Science Museum, first visiting in the 1960s. In 2014, he was elected a fellow of the Science Museum, a real accolade in appreciation of his sponsorship of science and technology. He was also very close to Imperial College, which lies partly in my constituency. Indeed, he was one of the first to receive a degree from Imperial when it attained its independence from the University of London. In 2007, he became an honorary doctor of science in recognition of his contribution.
As many colleagues have said, Prince Philip was a great supporter of young people. Rather than alluding to the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, I want to mention an email I received at the weekend from a constituent who sent me photographs from the 1950s of Prince Philip visiting youth clubs and boys’ clubs in north Kensington and Notting Hill.
Finally, Prince Philip had a huge passion for conservation and the environment, to which the Natural History Museum in my constituency paid great tribute.
On behalf of all residents of Kensington, I want to say thank you to Prince Philip for everything he did for Kensington, for our nation and for the Commonwealth.
It is a privilege to speak in the Chamber today to mark the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and to convey from the people of North Devon our heartfelt condolences to the royal family, in particular Her Majesty the Queen.
In North Devon, we are proud of our naval links, with both Royal Marines Barracks Chivenor and Arromanches located in my constituency. Prince Philip last visited North Devon in 2011, when he was president of the homecoming parade of Chivenor’s Commando Logistic Regiment to celebrate their safe return from Afghanistan. That so many locally still recall that visit highlights the place the Prince holds in our collective memories. That friends have recalled their meetings with the Prince and the Queen in private on nearby Lundy Island, and the pride of a local family who disclosed that they have copyright to some of the first pictures of the Prince meeting the then Princess at Dartmouth, shows that we all want a memory to link us to someone who has always been a part of our lives.
That we feel such loss means that we can only imagine the void left at Windsor castle within the royal family. Too often we forget that those in public life laugh and love and, indeed, live their own lives, as well as what is played out in the public domain. The passing of a loved one is always a difficult time, and to go through such loss in the public eye with such dignity reminds us of why we so often look to the royal family for guidance, and may partly explain the collective grief we feel at this time.
In a period of such national loss, with so many grieving for their loved ones, the National Bereavement Partnership founded in North Devon during the pandemic is, as are so many charities, churches and community groups, there to listen if anyone needs support.
Much has been said about the Duke of Edinburgh’s immense contribution to public life. As a former teacher, my highlight is his contribution to upcoming generations in the form of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which I hope will remain with us long into the future.
Prince Philip has left an immeasurable legacy. Seeing a nation grieve in unity hopefully provides some solace to his family in this time of personal grief. My thoughts and prayers remain with our royal family, in particular Her Majesty the Queen.
It is a true privilege to speak today. Along with colleagues and the people of Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the royal family on the loss of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It has been heartwarming to see the community Facebook pages of my constituency full of fond recollections of his visits to us, along with unified messages of respect for his long service.
I wish to focus my brief remarks on the impact of his legacy throughout the Commonwealth. His visits to my native New Zealand were always special. That applies especially to the Commonwealth games in 1974 and 1990, which His Royal Highness attended. He left a lasting impression and a positive impact on the country. What stays long in the minds of New Zealanders is the first ever royal visit to the country in 1953, a year that saw the coronation and the whole country turning out to see the gorgeous royal couple when they arrived in December.
After two devastating world wars, life was on the up. Never before seen footage emerged last week of the Duke larking about on a lilo in a swimming pool on Christmas day, but what many may not know is that, late the previous evening, New Zealand suffered its worst ever rail disaster, where a bridge collapsed at Tangiwai and 151 souls lost their lives. Her Majesty expressed her condolences to the people of New Zealand in her Christmas day address, and it was Prince Philip who attended the state funeral of many of the victims and comforted those who were bereaved and mourning.
We are now in national mourning for His Royal Highness, and, sadly, owing to coronavirus restrictions, we cannot show our respects in person as we would normally like to do, so I am grateful for this opportunity to offer a short karakia or prayer:
“Kia hora te marino
Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana
Hei huarahi mā tātou I te rangi nei
Aroha atu, aroha mai
Tātou i a tātou katoa”.
This translates as: May peace be widespread, may the sea be like greenstone, a pathway for us all today. Give love, receive love. Let us show respect for each other.
Haere ra. Farewell to His Royal Highness. Our grateful thanks for all that he has done for our country and the Commonwealth nations in his lifetime of duty and service.