Prince Philip 1921 – 2021

”It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”

Prince Philip was an honorary member of the Jockey Club since 1947, around the same time he became a naturalised British subject and married [the then] Princess Elizabeth. He was made a prince ten years later.

He saw active service in the Royal Navy throughout World War II, and was a qualified pilot, flying almost 6,000 hours in 59 types of aircraft. It was whilst he was stationed in Malta from 1949 to 1951 that HRH took up polo, which he played until 1971.

When arthritis and age forced him to quit, he took up carriage driving, a sport he continued to take part in into his 90s.

“I started driving because I’d been playing polo and I decided I would give up polo when I was 50. And I was looking around to see what next and what there was available. And I suddenly thought we’ve got horses and carriages so why don’t I have a go?”

But he wasn’t satisfied with just ‘having a go’.

Opening wereldkampioenschappen vierspannen op Het Loo ; Prins Phillip (Engeland) in aktie met vierspan *11 augustus 1982 – image by Hans van Dijk / Anefo created 1982

The early rule book was drafted under his supervision, and he was instrumental in getting the carriage driving three-day event included in the Windsor Show in the 1970s.

Photography led him to bird watching, which, in turn [eventually], led to the founding of the WWF in 1961, of which he was president from 1981 to 1996.

He was involved in many conservation efforts throughout his lifetime, from establishing an alliance between religious leaders and conservationists, to travelling across the Southern Pacific Ocean and Antarctica to identify native seabirds. For much of his married life, he took a close interest in the management of The Queen’s Private Estates, Sandringham and Balmoral, as well as Windsor Great and Home Parks. Because of this, over five thousand trees and several miles of hedges are planted at Sandringham each year, ten wetland areas have been created, and sympathetic farming practices encourage many different species of wildlife.

Among unusual official presents received by Prince Philip were two pygmy hippopotamuses given by President Tubman of Liberia following his state visit to England in 1961.

He became a Knight of the Order of the Elephant in Denmark, and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

On this sad occasion, the AAO offer our sincere condolences to his widow, Her Majesty The Queen.