Speaking in the House of Commons Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown pays tribute to HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
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, where 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 conservation 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.