Speaking in the House of Commons via video link Peter Aldous pays tribute to HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
On behalf of the constituents of Waveney, I extend their and my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and all her family on the sad passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been at her side for more than 73 years. The post-war era, the second Elizabethan age, has been a period of dramatic change and, in some respects, revolution. It has not been straightforward for Great Britain, but by and large our countries have evolved, have weathered the storms and have made the most of the new-found opportunities. Much credit for this should go to Prince Philip. He displayed three important virtues, the first being unstinting service and loyalty to the Queen, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
The second was that he was a man who was ahead of his time. We politicians can at times be accused of leaping on to bandwagons. He was very often the person who kickstarted those bandwagons and got them rolling, whether that was endorsing the white heat of technology in the 1950s, setting about transforming the lives of so many people through the launch of the scheme that carries his name, or through the recognition of the threat to wildlife and the environment.
Thirdly, while he could perhaps be blunt, he was a down-to-earth person with no airs and graces. On 6 May 1953, he visited Richards shipyard in Lowestoft. To commemorate the occasion, a mould was made for a plaque. Into this, the Duke was invited to pour the molten metal. Having done so, he asked the foundry foreman, Jimmy Sayer, “Was that all right?” Jimmy cleaned the casting with a wire brush, and on being shown he plaque, Prince Philip commented, “It’s a bloody miracle.”
For many in Lowestoft, he was cast from the same mould. A man of the sea, he was patron of the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club. In the four year period from 1953 to 1956, he made three visits to shipyards in the town: two to Richards and one to Brook Marine. In 1978, he opened the Bill Solomon Room at Lowestoft Maritime Museum, and in 1985, he accompanied Her Majesty the Queen on a visit that included a visit to the Lowestoft Museum in Oulton Broad.
This is a moment of sadness, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Queen and her family. We should consider how best to leave an enduring legacy that lasts in perpetuity for this remarkable man, doing all that we can to ensure that the Duke of Edinburgh Awards continue to help young people from all backgrounds to realise their full potential, and making sure that we never overlook the strategic importance of coastal Britain.