North Wiltshire MP, James Gray, was one of the many Members of Parliament to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in the House of Commons Chamber yesterday.
It was no surprise that the vast majority of MPs wanted to share their experiences of Prince Philip and reminisce about his quick wit and life of dedication to his Queen and country.
Mr Gray paid tribute to the Duke’s maritime links, mentioning his time in the Royal Navy and his role as Master of Trinity House, the home of all seafarers, as well as recalling a couple of typically amusing anecdotes.
“I well remember attending a Buckingham Palace reception for MPs shortly after coming back from a long expedition to South Georgia and Antarctica. When I was presented to the Duke, he leaned over and said, “That’s a bloody awful beard you’ve got there”—he obviously had a thing about beards. But when I told him I had grown it in South Georgia, his face lit up. He reminisced about his trip there in 1957 and how much he loved the rugged landscape, the wildlife, Shackleton’s grave and the rest of South Georgia.”
Mr Gray spoke of the Duke’s many interests including one of his most enduring legacies, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, before ending with a tale of the Duke’s visit to Malmesbury in 2001:
“After lunch, the Duke leaned over to me and said, “We’d better get going, or otherwise the Queen’ll stay here all afternoon gassing.” I had better take the Duke of Edinburgh’s advice and stop gassing, but I know that I represent the people of North Wiltshire, and indeed the whole county of Wiltshire, in paying tribute to a great life well lived, a great servant of the nation and a lifelong mainstay of Her Majesty the Queen.”
Please find here a link to a short film of the Duke’s visit to the Antarctic and the South Atlantic Overseas Territories in 1957. 'Southward with Prince Philip'