It is with the utmost sadness that we hear of the death of His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh. The loss of His Royal Highness will be felt across the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth and across the world. However, it will be felt most keenly by our monarch, Her Majesty The Queen. The Duke has been her constant companion and support throughout her reign. He is the longest serving consort ever, having been husband to our longest serving monarch.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s role as consort to our Monarch has been immensely successful. It has entailed support rather than personal stardom. He was unfailingly loyal and at all times put the interests of Her Majesty, the public and the State first. He did not seek the limelight or try to centre attention upon himself. He was someone with innate modesty who went on record stating the need to remember that it is his role that is important, rather than himself as an individual. His request that his funeral should not be a state occasion and that wreath-laying across the country is to be discouraged provide recent evidence of this.
His Royal Highness gave up a promising military career in the Royal Navy in order to support Her Majesty in her role as our monarch. One might think that the role of consort could have been difficult for a man of his generation, with a powerful intellect, strong personality, charisma, humour, many talents and interests. Yet he has never wavered. Her Majesty’s successful reign owes much to his clear view of the importance of public service and his duties as consort.
His Royal Highness was a man of many talents and interests. He has had the distinction of leaving us all with a wide legacy. His interests and concern for young people are well shown by the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme which he founded nearly 65 years ago. The scheme has helped young people achieve physical fitness, develop self-reliance, team building and leadership skills as well as making them aware of the basic requirements for human survival. His Royal Highness was an early environmentalist. As the first President of the World Wildlife Fund he brought world attention to environmental issues. He remained President Emeritus until his death. The Duke of Edinburgh’s concern for wildlife and the environment has been passed to his children and grandchildren. He remained a great supporter of the military. His Royal Highness was passionately interested in science and industry. He was a knowledgeable patron of over 780 organisations and he relished understanding what the organisations were about and how things worked.
His Royal Highness has contributed hugely to so much that makes our world a better place. In his role as consort to our sovereign he has provided vision and stability. We remember his life with deep gratitude and respect.