The speech made by Mel Stride, the Conservative MP for Central Devon, in the House of Commons on 12 April 2021.
Today’s tributes have demonstrated that there are few who have lived a life as full as that of The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. There are even fewer who have dedicated their life to the service of our country with such resolution and unwavering commitment. His was a long life that saw early service in the Navy in the second world war, where he served with distinction within both the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets. Before that, he graduated as best in class as a naval cadet at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, something of which we in Devon are particularly proud.
There could surely be few as active as he in support of both community and country. He was a patron, president or member of more than 800 organisations and he made over 22,000 solo engagements during the reign of Her Majesty the Queen. It was not until the age of 96 that he retired from royal duties. He truly did fill Kipling’s unforgiving minute with 60 seconds of distance run.
He will be especially remembered for championing the environment, and of course, as we have heard, for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, in which hundreds of thousands take part every year, including many young people in my constituency, to develop their skills and mature into more confident, capable and caring people—to give them, as he termed it, a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities. In my constituency, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is offered at all three of my secondary schools and it is embraced with vigour, with around 100 students at Queen Elizabeth’s School in Crediton alone completing an award in a typical year. Dartmoor, which lies at the heart of my constituency, has been the beautiful place of challenge where so many people from all over our country and from a huge diversity of backgrounds have embraced the Duke of Edinburgh’s dream, and millions of young people up and down the United Kingdom and across 140 countries around the world have much to thank him for. He changed lives, and that is a legacy of which to be especially proud.
Above all, however, our thoughts must be with Her Majesty the Queen and her family. Over 70 years of marriage, the longest serving British royal consort in our history and a long life as a supportive husband to Queen Elizabeth now leave what must be a terribly painful void. Our thoughts are with the Queen and all her family, and the thoughts of my family—of Michelle, Natascha, Ophelia and Evelyn—are with her, too. May the Duke of Edinburgh rest in peace.