Personal memories of Prince Philip from some of those who met him

Personal reminiscences of the Duke of Edinburgh from his many visits to Yorkshire over the years poured in following his death on Friday.

The Queen and Prince Phillip are pictured during the Royal Procession on the first day of Royal Ascot at York, in June 2005. The famous festival was held at York Racecourse while Ascot was refurbished (Picture: AFP via Getty Images).
The Queen and Prince Phillip are pictured during the Royal Procession on the first day of Royal Ascot at York, in June 2005. The famous festival was held at York Racecourse while Ascot was refurbished (Picture: AFP via Getty Images).

David Lascelles Earl of Harewood, said he was “greatly saddened” by the news.

He added: “Harewood staff, members, our visitors and residents across Leeds will remember with great warmth his visit to Harewood in 2002 on the occasion of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.”

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Across the region flags were flown at half mast and several books of condolence have been started including in Doncaster, Sheffield and York.

The Duke was a great advocate of British farming and rural causes and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS) expressed its “deep sadness” at the news of his death.

Prince Philip made two visits to the Great Yorkshire Show, the first in 1977 during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year, and then again in 2008.

John Stoddart-Scott, who had just retired as society chairman at the time, was among the entourage that showed the Duke round when he visited the Harrogate showground 13 years ago.

“He was fascinating and treated everyone the same, he didn’t pull rank,” Mr Stoddart-Scott recalled.

He added that the Duke took a keen interest in the various technological innovations on show.

“He wanted to be shown the modern methods of agriculture to do with automated location on the tractors and he knew as much about it as the salesmen did.”

Bill Cowling, former Honorary Show Director, has fond memories of the visit, too.

“He had this image in the media sometimes of someone who was a bit direct and brusque, but he couldn’t have been more helpful and obliging.”

Mr Cowling said the Queen and the Duke had originally intended to visit the show for three hours but ended up staying longer.

“In the end the visit with us lasted nearly five hours, which was incredible. It was an amazing day and one long to be remembered.”

James Brennan, head of marketing and sponsorship at York Racecourse, remembers another historic Royal visit.

This time in 2005 when Royal Ascot decamped to the Knavesmire – the first time the world famous horse racing festival had been held outside Berkshire.

The event was a feather in the cap for Yorkshire and around 250,000 attended over the five days.

“We put on a good show for the county and taking centre stage was the Royal family,” Mr Brennan said.

“The Duke was always a suitable pace or two behind the Queen, and you sensed he was a reassuring presence without ever pushing himself to the front,” he added.

A number of Yorkshire politicians also had good reason to speak warmly of him.

Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis said Prince Philip was an “important part of a national institution”, and praised his lifetime of dedication and service.

“In particular, his work with the Duke of Edinburgh scheme inspired many thousands of young people to push themselves and their limits. It led me at age 18 to an expedition to the Himalayas, a formative experience, and one I will never forget.”

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said Prince Philip had made her feel “at ease and welcome” when she was invited to Buckingham Palace shortly after being elected to Parliament.

Paying tribute to the Duke, Ms Champion said: “After the formalities, I drifted off to admire the art collection. Prince Philip came over and proceeded to describe every painting in intimate detail.

“He was a perfect host making me, a complete stranger, feel at ease and welcome.”

Fellow Labour MP Rachael Maskell (York Central) said his death marked the passing of an era and recalled her own meeting with him.

“In the midst of a year that has marked so much loss and sadness, the announcement of the death of Prince Philip marks another loss, most of all to his close family and friends.

“I will never forget my meeting with him, in happier times, when he opened my physio school at my university. Poised on an exercise bike and demonstrating cardiovascular function, he was determined to push my heart rate ever higher.

“It ended in an intense workout for me and much amusement for him and my fellow students; sadly he declined my offer of reciprocation.”

In 2004, Geraldine Carter, as Mayor of Calderdale, spent time with Prince Philip at Halifax Town Hall during a Royal visit.

At the town hall he met local business people and a group of young people who were winners of the Duke of Edinburgh Award that year.

“He was very good company. When we were going around the businesses in the town hall he was very interested in what they were doing,” said Coun Carter.

Having earned the award the Duke had set up, the youngsters were keen to meet him and in turn he enjoyed asking them about the tasks they had undertaken to gain the award.

“They were absolutely thrilled,” said Coun Carter.

She also said the role of consort, and particularly that of supporting the Queen at public engagements, could not be underestimated.

“I wanted it to be a good day, a special day for her, then Prince Philip comes along and lightens the mood – he was lightening the load for her,” said Coun Carter.

“It was one of the special days in my life. He made the visit very special for a lot of people. I’ll never forget it,” she added.