HRH Prince Philip

This portrait of Prince Philip wearing a London Rowing Club tie hangs in LRC’s clubhouse. The Prince was Patron of the club.

9 April 2021

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch recalls some of the rowing connections of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who has died aged 99, two month’s short of his 100th year.

Prince Philip was a colourful and occasionally controversial character who spent over 70 years as consort to the Queen, a role that he took on voluntarily and performed diligently but which, one suspects, would not have been his first employment choice. The impression was that he would have preferred to have spent his working life as a naval officer.

In 2014, I gained a tiny insight into the life of a senior Royal when the Duke attended that year’s Doggett’s Coat and Badge and I spent a few hours observing him at work. Since his marriage in 1952, this would have been his 22,000 and something solo engagement so, had he been absolutely fascinated or incredibly bored by the whole occasion, he was experienced enough not to show either emotion and maintained a constant polite interest.

There are worse jobs in the world than being a monarch’s consort, but the many privileges that go with regal status must sometimes have seemed scant compensation for some of the royal obligations that the Duke had to fulfil over the years. Occasionally, his irritation showed but ultimately, from Midshipman to Consort, Prince Philip always did his duty.

Prince Philip (front left) with fellow officers from HMS Magpie rowing a ship’s boat in the Turkish inland Sea of Marmara in 1951.
Prince Philip’s first visit to the Doggett’s Coat and Badge in 1951.
Prince Philip at the prize giving for the 1989 Boat Race. He also presented the prizes at Henley in 1968 and 1998. The Regatta awarded the Prince Philip Challenge Cup for men’s coxed fours between 1963 and 2003.
Prince Philip’s second visit to the Doggett’s was to mark the 300th race in 2014. Doubtful legend has it that watermen are the only commoners who can touch a royal person unbidden.
Prince Philip following the 2014 Doggett’s.
Prince Philip and the rest of the umpire’s party applaud Harry McCarthy, the winner of the 2014 Doggett’s.
On Cadogan Pier, Prince Philip waits to congratulate McCarthy and the rest of the contestants.
On his return from the Doggett’s finish, Prince Philip ascends the river steps on the wharf outside Fishmongers’ Hall.
The Queen and Prince Philip are photographed in Watermen’s Hall with the Queen’s Watermen in 2014.
A ‘candid’ shot taken a few seconds before the formal one shown above. It looks like the Duke has made an amusing remark – though one which may have been slightly risqué as the Queen seems to have suddenly found a spot on the floor that requires her full attention.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark), 10 June 1921 – 9 April 2021.

One comment

  1. Thanks, Tim. A refreshing change from all the BBC fawning reports. I had not realised that he and the Queen had such regular contact with the Watermen. Lovely selecation of pictures.

    Jane

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