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Former member of the House of Lords, forward thinker and pioneer – the Duke’s legacy will live on

Former member of the House of Lords, forward thinker and pioneer – the Duke’s legacy will live on
3 min read

Prince Philip’s visible presence alongside the Queen for more than seven decades provides a glimpse into the unique role he played in private, supporting Her Majesty and serving the Crown, humbly and selflessly.

The nation and the whole Commonwealth has lost one of its greatest figures in Prince Philip. During the almost 90 tributes that were made in the House of Lords, we heard countless stories about his passion, his wit and his strong sense of public duty.

A fact that not many people know about the Duke of Edinburgh is that he was at one stage a member of the House of Lords. 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 the House, he attended countless times alongside the Queen for the state opening of Parliament. If he had spoken, I’m sure the press galleries would have been packed to the rafters for the occasion.

The images of Her Majesty and Prince Philip walking through the Royal Gallery and seated on the thrones in the House of Lords chamber are some of the most iconic of our age. Looking beyond the splendour and pageantry, however, it is an image which goes to the heart of their relationship. It speaks of patience, of constancy and of fidelity.

Prince Philip’s visible presence alongside the Queen for more than seven decades provides a glimpse into the unique role he played in private, supporting Her Majesty and serving the Crown, humbly and selflessly.

We could have done with his help for the restoration and renewal of Westminster

As Speaker of the House of Lords, I am fortunate to have daily encounters with people who have extraordinary records of public service. Prince Philip’s life and legacy still stands out as exceptional.

His range of interests was incredibly diverse and everything he put his hand to he succeeded in doing. If you started with the ‘As’ of this list of his passions, you’d get art and architecture. He was a painter himself, and he successfully led the Restoration Committee for rebuilding Windsor Castle after a fire in 1992. Perhaps we could have done with his help for the restoration and renewal programme of the Palace of Westminster.

Although he was a representative of an institution steeped in history, he was always a forward thinker. He was said to own one of the first iterations of the mobile phone. And he pioneered the televising of the coronation in 1953 which was the first time many families in Britain (including my own) bought a television set. Generally, he sought to open up communications between the public and the royal family.

A particularly telling anecdote appeared in the letters of last Saturday’s Telegraph. A parent wrote to say that her son and his friends were once lost along the River Dee, consulting their map, when an old man approached them to say they were trespassing.

When they explained that they were lost on a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition, he explained that he was in fact the Duke of Edinburgh and asked them all about their activities. However, he wouldn’t give them directions and said they would have to figure it out on their own. After all, the award is all about self-reliance, teamwork and adventure. It is also about inclusivity. When he launched the scheme in 1956, the Duke wanted to ensure it could be completed by people with disabilities.

His legacy with the award scheme and everything he did will live on, as will our sincere gratitude.

 

Lord Fowler is the Lord Speaker.

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