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Links between Prince Philip and Moray

By Alistair Whitfield

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Prince Philip was one of the very first students at Gordonstoun School in Moray.

However his eventful childhood had already taken several twists before he arrived here.

Born on the Greek island of Corfu in 1921, he was the fifth and final child of Prince Andrew.

His father was king-in-waiting for the seemingly unlikely combination of both Denmark and Greece.

However, a revolution in Greece the very next year saw the royal family forced to flee for their lives.

The infant Philip with taken to Paris, before later being sent to board at Cheam preparatory school, near London.

At the age of 12 he was sent to Salem School in Germany which was owned by the family of one of his brother-in-laws – all four of Philip's older sisters had married German aristocrats.

Salem School had been founded and was run by a man called Kurt Hahn.

With the rise of Nazism, Hahn, who was Jewish and an outspoken critic of Fascism, was forced to flee Germany.

He came to Scotland, where he founded Gordonstoun in 1934.

Philip also moved to Moray after two terms at Salem.

He left in 1939, the same year as the outbreak of World War Two, joining the Royal Navy the following year.

While a pupil he is understood to have thoroughly enjoyed Gordonstoun's outdoor ethos, later sending all three of his sons there.

A spokesperson for the school said: "It is with great sadness that Gordonstoun learned of the death of one of its first pupils, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

"His Royal Highness joined Gordonstoun in September 1934 at the age of 13 and attended the school for five years.

"He was the school’s oldest alumnus, having joined Gordonstoun in the year it was founded.

"His Royal Highness was very happy at Gordonstoun and was deeply influenced by his time at the school.

"The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which has been earned by millions of schoolchildren around the world, was inspired by the challenges and unique education His Royal Highness experienced at Gordonstoun.

"Prince Philip was a member of the ‘Watchers’, one of the school’s community services – and a precursor to the Gordonstoun’s Coastguard service).

"He also developed his love of sailing at Gordonstoun, inspiring his life-long love of the sea.

"He was an excellent all-round athlete, becoming Captain of Cricket and Hockey.

"In his final year he became ‘Guardian’ (Head Boy) and took part in the ‘Moray Badge’: the inspiration for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

"The Moray Badge encouraged local children to experience elements of a Gordonstoun education and to achieve success in physical activities, outdoor pursuits and service to the community.

"Prince Philip gave his name to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award when it was made a national award in 1956 and it has now spread across the world to over 140 countries. Prince Philip took great pleasure in presenting Gold awards to its proud recipients throughout his life.

"His Royal Highness regularly visited the school, most recently for a private visit in 2014 to mark the school’s 80th anniversary, when he insisted on joining students in the queue for lunch, rather than taking a seat and having it brought to him.

"Three of His Royal Highness’ children followed him to Gordonstoun along with two of his grandchildren.

"His daughter, HRH The Princess Royal, is the school’s ‘Warden’.

"More recently, His Royal Highness gave his name to The Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation, an endowment fund which enables children from all backgrounds to access Gordonstoun’s life-changing education."

Lisa Kerr, Principal of Gordonstoun said: "The Gordonstoun community joins together in conveying our sincerest condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and all the Royal Family at this very sad time.

"Students and staff at Gordonstoun remember HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as someone who made students feel at ease in his presence and who shared their love of Gordonstoun.

"He had an immensely strong character, combined with a unique sense of fun, infectious optimism and strong sense of duty.

"More than anything, he understood and was hugely supportive of Gordonstoun’s educational ethos, of not only fulfilling academic potential but also of developing life skills through experiences outside the classroom including sailing and community service.

"We are immensely grateful for his support over the years and his presence and support in the school’s life will be sorely missed."

A tribute page is being set up set up in honour of His Royal Highness on the Gordonstoun website.

Pupils, staff and parents, both past and present, are invited to leave a message of condolence or share a picture.

Others from around Moray have also paid tribute.

A statement was released from the board of directors and members of Morayvia, the aeronautical museum near Kinloss.

The 'Duke of Edinburgh' aircraft at Morayvia.
The 'Duke of Edinburgh' aircraft at Morayvia.

It said: "We extend our deepest and most sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family on the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

"Since our formation in 2012 the Royal family and, indeed, the Duke himself has been a keen follower of the project.

"We were delighted when His Royal Highness granted us permission to name our Nimrod aircraft XV244 'Duke of Edinburgh' and to carry his Royal emblem on tail of the aircraft.

"During a private visit some years ago both Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh took time out of a visit to the Northeast to visit Kinloss and see for themselves XV244 resplendent with its royal titles added.

"The Duke of Edinburgh, the former Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Kinloss, will be fondly remembered for his passion for Moray and his kind support in helping us bring our project to where we are now."

Richard Lochhead, who is campaigning to continue as Moray's MSP in the forthcoming Holyrood elections said: "It's sad news with the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh who was dedicated to public service for many decades and had deep and lasting ties with Moray and Scotland.

"He will of course be particularly remembered for his patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme for young people and also as a distinguished World War Two veteran.

"I know many people in Moray will be thinking of the Queen today who has lost her husband and source of enduring support of a remarkable 73 years.

"Political campaigning has been suspended today as a mark of respect."

Douglas Ross, the MP for Moray, said: "The country has lost a tremendous public servant who has been at the Queen's side for more than seven decades.

"Prince Philip had strong ties to Moray and to Gordonstoun. The school played a big part in his early life and indeed the Duke of Edinburgh award was inspired by the Moray Badge he had worked for as a pupil.

"My heartfelt condolences, and I am sure those of people across Moray, are with Her Majesty and the whole of the Royal Family as they mourn the loss of a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather."

Shona Morrison, the Convener of Moray Council, said: "It was with immense sadness that Moray Council learnt of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

"The Duke was a regular visitor to Moray, having been among the first pupils to attend Gordonstoun, and maintained a lifelong association with the area."

Major General Seymour Monro, the Lord-Lieutenant of Moray, said: "It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

"He had been HM The Queen’s Consort since 1953.

"He was husband, advisor, and a constant strength to Her Majesty who described him as ‘her rock’.

"He was head of the family –father, grandfather and great grandfather, and he was deeply involved in the running of the Royal Estates.

"He was at The Queen’s side all those years until he withdrew from public duties in 2018.

"The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has enriched the lives of so many young people all over the world, and the Award scheme will be a major, lasting legacy.

"He was Colonel in Chief successively of The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, the Queen’s Own Highlanders and The Highlanders.

"He visited the Regiments in Moray and in the Highlands as well as overseas.

"He was Honorary Air Commodore at RAF Kinloss and was hugely disappointed when it ceased to be an RAF station.

"The Nimrod still at the base was named the ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ with his permission and in his honour.

"He last visited Moray in 2014 when he accompanied Her Majesty on a visit to RAF Lossiemouth and to 39 Engineer Regiment at Kinloss Barracks.

"Prince Philip will be remembered as a strong, courageous, straight talking and fun loving man.

"He gave great leadership to so many whether it was the young, whether it was encouraging technology and enterprise in business, or encouraging sporting activities and events.

"He was central to the continuous updating of the monarchy over the years.

"However, above all, it will be as The Queen’s enduring, loyal and supportive Consort that he will be remembered.

"He put that role before everything else. The Nation, Moray, mourn HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whilst also honouring and remembering him for the quite outstanding, unique part he has played during our Queen’s reign.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty and members of the Royal Family."

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