The speech made by Maria Miller, the Conservative MP for Basingstoke, in the House of Commons on 12 April 2021.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to send deepest condolences on behalf of myself and my constituents here in Basingstoke to Her Majesty the Queen on the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and to send deepest sympathy to the whole of the royal family.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s was a life of public service, through his military service, his patronage of hundreds of charities and community organisations and, of course, through his very clear service over more than seven decades in support of Her Majesty the Queen. His Royal Highness has quite simply been part of all our lives over the past seven decades. He led by example in his commitment to public service, to our communities and to those hundreds of charities and community organisations. That genuine passion and commitment to our country, our communities and our charities, which are so important to us, start to explain the depth of feeling expressed throughout the United Kingdom following his death on Friday.
That serious commitment was coupled with a serious sense of humour, as we have heard in earlier tributes. I had a small insight into that when I met His Royal Highness on more informal occasions. I think particularly of when my daughter and I met him a few years ago at a Buckingham Palace garden party. My daughter had just taken her A-levels, and after vigorously shaking her hand Prince Philip made it very clear that he was incredulous that any 18-year-old would want to spend their time meeting a pensioner, rather than being off travelling in the far east—typically self-deprecating and typically putting everyone at ease.
Here in Hampshire, tributes have been led by our lord lieutenant, Nigel Atkins, and in Basingstoke by our mayor, Diane Taylor. Our flags are flown at half mast, our floral tributes have been laid and heartfelt tributes have been paid to the contribution that Prince Philip made over so many years, including memories of his visits to Hampshire, particularly when he opened the Milestones museum in Basingstoke town.
Of course, His Royal Highness will be best remembered for launching the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme back in 1956 to help young people develop the skills and resilience that they need to succeed in life. Over the past 65 years, more than 6 million have completed this award. As we look forward, what better way to commemorate his life and to cement his legacy than to continue to commit to support an expansion of youth work and extra-curricular activities for all young people, particularly following the last year and the effect of the pandemic on so many young people.
There will be time for us to develop that thinking more as we look to the future and at how the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and other youth organisations can cement the passion and commitment that he had to support young people, but at this time we need to salute Prince Philip’s service to our country. He will be missed, but his legacy will certainly go on.