Yesterday the Commons paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, ahead of his 90th birthday.
The Prime Minister's tribute:
Six decades of service to the Crown: "This week we celebrate the 90th birthday of a remarkable man who has given years of service to our country. Someone who has defended his nation in time of war. A man who has stood alongside Her Majesty the Queen for more than six decades. A man who has given his time, effort and passion to many great causes up and down the country, across the Commonwealth and indeed around the world. I refer, of course, to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Since the time of William the Conqueror there has never been a consort who has served for so long at the side of a monarch and, as such, Prince Philip has seen extraordinary events in life from the end of rationing to man landing on the moon, and from the end of the cold war to the beginning of peace in Northern Ireland. Of course, along the way he has had to put up with listening to the views of no fewer than 12 Prime Ministers. Through it all he has been there for Her Majesty the Queen as a constant companion and source of rock solid strength. Throughout it all he has served us, the British people, with an unshakeable sense of duty. He has conducted more than 300 public engagements a year and delivered more than 5,000 speeches. Over those years, he has also made more than 600 visits to more than 140 countries. In most of those, he is heralded and much respected as the consort of a monarch, but, of course, there is one—Tanna, part of Vanuatu—where he is treated slightly differently. In fact, no public event in that far off part of the Pacific Islands is complete without the islanders holding aloft pictures of Prince Philip, who they worship as a god."
Courageous service in WWII: "Of course, His Royal Highness served this country long before his royal duties began. The Duke of Edinburgh spent 14 years on active service in the Royal Navy. During the Second World War he served with the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets. He was awarded the Greek war cross of valour and was mentioned in dispatches when he manned the searchlights during HMS Valiant’s triumph at the battle of Cape Matapan. In a fitting tribute to his outstanding abilities, the late Lord Lewin, the First Sea Lord, said he would most certainly have gone right to the top of the Navy."
A patron of 800 causes: "Today the Duke of Edinburgh is a patron of more than 800 organisations. Looking through that long list, one passion shines through: supporting young people by giving them the confidence to stand on their own two feet. It was this passion that led him to initiate the Duke of Edinburgh awards, recognised around the world as the gold standard in leadership for young people. Since 1956, about 6 million young people in 120 countries have won awards by building skills for work and life and proving that they can take responsibility for themselves and their communities. To all of us in this Chamber who believe in the value of helping to change people’s lives for the better, that is an inspiration. His is a huge achievement for which this country and many others owe the Duke a deserved debt of gratitude. He also has an extraordinary passion for wildlife, nature and the environment. As president of the World Wildlife Fund, he helped to save many of the world’s most beautiful creatures from extinction, including the snow leopard and the black rhino."
And finally, the Labour MP Chris Bryant remembers the time Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda was teased by Prince Philip…
"Parmjit Dhanda, when he was the Member for Gloucester, was invited in 2001, as I think was the current Prime Minister and others elected that year—it was our 10th anniversary yesterday—to Buckingham palace, and the Duke of Edinburgh went up to Parmjit and said, “So, what did you do before you got this job?” Parmjit said, “I worked in a trade union.” The Duke immediately replied, “Bugger all, then.” Parmjit, somewhat offended and thinking that he would retaliate with force, asked, “Well, what did you do before you got this job?”, to which the Duke replied, “Fought in the second world war.”
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