'A Royal moderniser and visionary ahead of his time'

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attend St Peter & St Paul church at West Newton - The Duke of Ed

The Duke of Edinburgh - Credit: Matthew Usher

The Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey pays tribute to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

Following the death of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh I wanted to take the opportunity to pay tribute to Prince Philip and to recall his many visits to Surrey, both as Her Majesty’s devoted consort and solo, as well as to recognise his genuine interest and enthusiasm for our people and communities.  

As background, HM The Queen appoints a Lord-Lieutenant as her personal representative in each UK county – the main link with her people. This makes me well placed to share the fact that, since 2000, Prince Philip accompanied Her Majesty on 12 memorable official visits to Surrey, and fulfilled at least 18 solo engagements. Over the previous five decades, there were more such visits – not including private appearances. We have heard how The Duke was patron, president or member of 780 organisations globally – frequently those linked to his campaigning zeal for the environment and conservation, science and engineering, inter-faith relations and sport. It was often those interests that brought him to Surrey.  

HRH Duke of Edinburgh with group of students from Christ's College Guildford

HRH Duke of Edinburgh at Christ's College Guildford - Credit: Lord Lieutenant's Office

In October 2015 he accompanied Her Majesty to the University of Surrey, when she opened the School of Veterinary Medicine. I had been appointed three months before and this was my first experience of their immense curiosity and enthusiasm. There were momentous historical commemorations, too: months earlier, my predecessor, Dame Sarah Goad, had welcomed them to Runnymede, to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Often, Prince Philip’s solo visits were linked to Queen’s Award for Enterprise presentations to Surrey companies, and to support innovative design and technology.    

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh talking to students at Christ's College Guildford

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh talking to students at Christ's College Guildford - Credit: Lord Lieutenant's Office

But it is the DofE Awards scheme that he founded in 1956 that identifies The Duke as a stalwart champion for young people’s development, a Royal visionary and moderniser ahead of his time. To date, eight million young people have taken part. The DofE is perhaps his most remarkable achievement, equipping and empowering young people across communities to build skills, confidence and resilience to make the most of life. Many of his solo engagements to Surrey saw him engaging with DofE participants – visits they will never forget.  

Throughout 73 years of marriage, Prince Philip was Her Majesty’s trusted companion. At their Golden Wedding in 1997, she called him ‘my strength and stay’. In Surrey, we shall forever appreciate his candour and his concern for our county, our communities and people. 

The Royal website royal.uk has more information and the online book of condolence. 

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