His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Monday 12th April 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Hansard Text
Moved by
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

To move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows—

“Most Gracious Sovereign,

We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to convey to Your Majesty the heartfelt sympathy of this House on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Philip gave selfless public service to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for over seventy years. He will be remembered for His distinguished Naval service in the Second World War and, following marriage to Your Majesty, for His energy and commitment across so many areas of national life, including conservation, science and technology, design, sport and Your Armed Forces. His major achievement in creating the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme has transformed the lives of millions of young people around the world. Above all His role at the side of Your Majesty, supporting Your life of service as our Sovereign and encouraging the work of Your family, has been a steadfast presence for us all.

We assure Your Majesty that His memory will be held dear by those who knew Him and honoured in the history of our country. Our prayers join with those of the entire nation for His Royal Highness, and for Your Majesty and all the Royal Family at this sad time of loss and sorrow.”

Lord Fowler Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord Fowler)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, it is right that we come together today, in person and virtually, to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts are first and foremost with Her Majesty the Queen, who has lost the person whom she described as her “strength and stay”. The humble Address rightly conveys the heartfelt sympathy of this House and assures Her Majesty and all the Royal Family of our prayers. Together with them, we mourn.

The nation and the whole Commonwealth has lost one of its greatest figures, but let us also remember that he was a Member of this House. He was introduced on 21 July 1948, just before Earl Mountbatten of Burma—someone who was supremely formative in his early life. Although he never spoke in this House, he attended countless times alongside Her Majesty the Queen for the State Opening of Parliament. The images of them walking through the Royal Gallery and seated on the Thrones behind me are some of the most iconic of our age.

Looking beyond the splendour and pageantry, however, it is an image that goes to the heart of their relationship. It speaks of patience, constancy and fidelity. The visible presence of Prince Philip alongside Her Majesty the Queen for over seven decades provides a glimpse into the unique role he played in private, supporting Her Majesty and serving the Crown humbly and selflessly. Today, we give thanks for the sacrifices he made and for the immeasurable good that he did. His legacy will live on, as will our sincere gratitude.

I now call on the Lord Privy Seal to move the Motion for the humble Address.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, we are here today to remember and pay tribute to the life of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as we mourn the loss of the “strength and stay” to Her Majesty, our country and the Commonwealth. However, we also gather to commemorate and celebrate Prince Philip’s extraordinary life, distinguished by decades of dutiful, loyal and selfless service.

He was the embodiment of public service in the truest sense. On his retirement, at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace revealed that he had undertaken 22,191 solo engagements, made 635 overseas visits on his own account, delivered 5,493 speeches and authored 14 books. He was colonel-in-chief of eight regiments and was patron, president or otherwise associated with 992 different organisations. He served honourably and with distinction in the Second World War, being mentioned in dispatches for his service aboard HMS “Valiant” during the Battle of Cape Matapan. This was only the beginning of a promising naval career. He later took command of his own ship, HMS “Magpie”, and it is widely considered that he would have reached the very highest ranks of the Navy had he continued his full-time service. In almost a century, he lived through the invention of the jet engine, man setting foot on the moon and the creation of the internet.

After Her Majesty acceded to the throne, Prince Philip’s devoted service spanned the terms of 14 British Prime Ministers—Sir Winston Churchill being the first—as well as countless leaders across the Commonwealth and beyond. Within the Commonwealth in particular, Prince Philip was highly respected and held in deep affection. He understood long before others how the modern Commonwealth network was and is, in Her Majesty’s own words,

“in many ways the face of the future”.

Prince Philip was a modern man, a trailblazer ahead of his time, from becoming one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy to being appointed the first president of the World Wildlife Fund UK. He was passionate about engineering and industry, a pioneer of the sport of carriage driving and a champion of environmental causes long before they became mainstream. I was one of the millions of young people who benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, completing the bronze, silver and gold awards while at school. It was the DofE, as it is known in families across the country, that first taught me the importance of public service. For my community service, I volunteered in a mental health centre and in a care home—experiences that I remember to this day and which helped shape the person I am. This remarkable scheme now inspires and empowers young people in over 140 countries across the world and will remain a fitting and lasting legacy.

I had the honour of meeting the Duke of Edinburgh most recently at a lunch following a Privy Council meeting at Windsor. I could not help but feel nervous when I realised that I was seated next to him, but he immediately put me at ease with his wit and charm. He liked to say that he could make anyone laugh within 15 seconds. Well, I might have been an easy target, but he did just that. While he sipped on a pint of beer, we discussed the skill that I had ingeniously picked for my gold Duke of Edinburgh award—wine making. It rather tickled him. His conversation and company were warm and welcoming, and I feel extremely privileged to have spent that time with him.

Of course, Prince Philip was a Member of this House, and I know that many of your Lordships knew him in various capacities and to differing degrees. Noble Lords will have their own memories and stories of him, as he left a lasting impression on all who met him. I look forward to hearing some of them today.

Her Majesty and Prince Philip were married for 73 years—an example to us all—with four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Prince Philip was a proud and devoted husband and family man. He was also the longest-serving consort in British history, an unfailing and stoic stalwart to Her Majesty. His willingness to forgo his distinguished naval career and devote his life to supporting Her Majesty forged an unrivalled partnership. There are many reminders of the late Queen Victoria and Prince Albert around our House. They are immortalised in portraits above the throne in the Robing Room and in statues in the Prince’s Chamber. Like Victoria and Albert, Her Majesty and Prince Philip were a formidable team who achieved so much together. Generations to come will remember them in that way.

To The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, we owe a tremendous debt of thanks for a lifetime dedicated to Her Majesty, Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, our country and the Commonwealth. He put service and duty above self—a legacy for which he will be remembered and a model for us all to follow. Prince Philip will be greatly missed by all those who knew him, met him and respected him from afar. This country has suffered a great loss and our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with Her Majesty the Queen and all the Royal Family. I beg to move.

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the many and varied tributes that we have heard today bear witness to the huge number of lives that Prince Philip touched and the influence that he had on fields as varied as sport, science and our Armed Forces. I hope that these tributes and those from the other place, from the parliaments across this nation and from the Commonwealth sustain Her Majesty and the Royal Family in their time of grief.

I want to end by re-emphasising our huge gratitude for Prince Philip’s exemplary service to our country. I commit our unwavering support to Her Majesty.

Motion agreed nemine dissentiente, and it was ordered that the Address be presented to Her Majesty by the Lord Chamberlain.