Remembering the remarkable Duke of Edinburgh | Antony Higginbotham

This time last week I, along with the whole nation, learnt of the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 12:30 pm

It was a truly sad day for all of us and a national period of mourning commenced, allowing us to respectfully remember the loss of an inspirational character that served our country with such dedication for over 73 years.

First as a decorated sailor in the Royal Navy during World War 2 where he showed bravery and distinction; and then as the longest serving consort in British history, accompanying Her Majesty The Queen on trips and engagements across the globe.

Throughout his long-life HRH Prince Philip achieved so much but it is with no doubt that he will be most remembered for his unwavering support of HM The Queen.

Prince Philip travelling on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal with Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Charles in Burnley in 2012
Prince Philip travelling on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal with Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Charles in Burnley in 2012

In their 73 years of marriage he was nothing but steadfast, acting as consort but also a devoted husband.

Nobody was closer to Her Majesty than he was, and we should all be truly thankful for everything that he has done in supporting our Monarch over the last seven decades.

But his enduring legacy will be much more. From his interest in conservation, his passion for charitable causes or his interest in the welfare of young people, Prince Philip carved out his own role in the Royal Family.

And by combining his royal role with a very long life meant that he was able to carry out more than 22,000 royal engagements on his own, meeting huge numbers of people in widely differing circumstances and, importantly, helping to connect people with the Royal Family.

Many will remember back in 2012 when the Duke accompanied both the Queen and Prince Charles on a visit to Burnley as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.

Hundreds of residents turned out for the occasion with a sea of union flags fluttering from the schoolchildren who greeted the royal car as it pulled up at the Inn on the Wharf.

And this wasn’t the first time the Duke of Edinburgh visited the borough.

In 1987, granted before my birth, he made an official visit to AMS Neve, known across the world for its innovative technology.

Fitting for a man who was by all measures ahead of his times in many respects.

Prince Philip was one of the first people in the UK to use a mobile phone and was driving an electric car around London as far back as the 1970s.

Many will know of his passionate defence of environmental issues before it was the popular opinion to take.

More than anything else though, the achievement that Prince Philip will be most remembered for is the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

This was launched in 1956 to provide a journey of personal and professional discovery for young people, recognising the huge value the Duke put on education, teamwork, responsibility and physical activity.

Since it’s launch the Scheme has had more than 6 million participants through schools, cadet forces and other groups - including many here in Burnley and Padiham.

In memory of this long and illustrious life, tomorrow, the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral will take place.

In line with his wishes this won’t be a State Funeral, but a Royal Ceremonial Funeral – similar to that arranged for The Queen Mother.

His coffin, draped in the Union Jack, will be carried through the grounds of Windsor Castle in a modified Land Rover.

This in itself shows his passion for engineering and for doing things differently. This will be followed on foot by senior members of the Royal family.

I hope that residents across Burnley and Padiham will join in the nationwide pause on Saturday, reflecting on the life, achievements and legacy of the Duke of Edinburgh