An inspiration to generations

Danial Norjidi

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh earned the affection of generations around the world through his public service, was a champion of the natural world and inspired the lives of countless young people.

These were among the points highlighted by British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam John Virgoe in a recent statement shared with the Bulletin.

“It was with great sadness that we received news that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has passed away at the age of 99,” said the high commissioner.

“Through his public service, Prince Philip earned the affection of generations in the United Kingdom (UK), across the Commonwealth and around the world. Landing in Anduki, Seria, the Duke of Edinburgh visited Brunei Darussalam for the first time in 1959.

“He visited Brunei again with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1972 and 1998. He was the longest serving consort in history, and we remember him for his steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen.

A tribute to Britain’s Prince Philip is projected onto a large screen at Piccadilly Circus in central London on April 9. PHOTO: AP
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh leaving the House Of Assembly after the Queen had addressed Bermuda’s Colonial Parliament, in Hamilton, Bermuda, on November 25, 1953

“As said by the prime minister, Prince Philip was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable.

Those in Brunei will remember his Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme, which has become one of the Duke’s most remarkable achievements, inspiring the lives of countless young people.

“On behalf of the British High Commission, we offer our condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and give thanks as a nation for the extraordinary life and work of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh,” added the high commissioner.

British Defence Adviser to Brunei Darussalam Group Captain Graeme Davis also gave a statement: “As a Royal Navy officer, who graduated from Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, His Royal Highness Prince Philip served his country with distinction on board HMS Ramillies, HMS Kent and HMS Shropshire during WWII.

“He completed his formal naval service in 1953 but remained very close to the Armed Forces, holding various military titles including Honorary Admiral of the Fleet, Captain General of Royal Marines, Colonel-in-Chief of Army Cadet Force and Air-Commodore-in-Chief of Air Training Corps.

“He was one of the oldest WWII veterans and inspired generations of young soldiers, sailors, marines and aircrew.”

It was on April 9 that Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Philip had had passed away.

Prince Philip’s funeral is set to take place today at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. It has been reported that only 30 people will be able to attend under the current coronavirus restrictions in the UK, and that the service is scheduled to be broadcast live on television.

According to information from Buckingham Palace, the funeral service will begin with a national minute’s silence at 3pm UK time. The service will be preceded by a ceremonial procession inside the grounds of Windsor Castle.

“The plans for the funeral are in line with the Duke of Edinburgh’s personal wishes, and the occasion will recognise and celebrate the Duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to Her Majesty the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth.

“It will be a Ceremonial Royal Funeral, the same as for Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, rather than a State Funeral – something which is generally reserved for monarchs. The plans have been approved by Her Majesty the Queen and reflect appropriate government advice.”

Following the announcement that Prince Philip had passed away, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC paid tribute, highlighting that through the 70 years of marriage, the Duke of Edinburgh had supported Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in fulfilling her duties as Head of the Commonwealth.

“The Duke shared with Her Majesty a high view of what humanity can achieve through cooperation and working together,” said the secretary-general. “His questioning mind and sense of adventure, combined with an engaging informality and forthrightness, enabled him to communicate huge positivity and faith as to what could be achieved through individual and international connection.”

She added that Prince Philip had a farsighted understanding of the potential of Commonwealth connection, and that his approaches to bringing people together from a wide range of backgrounds to develop leadership skills were regarded as innovative and brave.

“With vigour and vision, the Duke of Edinburgh carved out an immensely valuable role for himself within Commonwealth networks, with a focus on projects and programmes through which he could build on his distinctive philosophy of cultivating understanding and self-reliance, and thereby complement Her Majesty’s official responsibilities and duties as Head of the Commonwealth.”

The secretary-general also lauded initiatives founded by Prince Philip such as the Commonwealth Studies Conferences and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme by saying, “These were ground-breaking initiatives when first established, and continue – more than 60 years later – to offer valuable opportunities for people throughout the Commonwealth.

“Prince Philip was associated as patron or president with a range of Commonwealth charitable bodies and civil society organisations, taking a keen interest in their activities.

“He also made notable contributions as an early and prominent advocate for international action on the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.

“During a period of unprecedented change and technological progress, the Duke of Edinburgh supported Her Majesty the Queen with energy and imagination.

“They will each of them forever remain inextricably connected to the period when the Commonwealth developed and grew in stature.

“Past, present and future generations of Commonwealth citizens owe a debt of gratitude to Prince Philip for remaining constant and steadfast in his commitment to the Commonwealth, and his assuredness and vision of its global importance.”