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Remembering the Duke of Edinburgh

Monday 12th April 2021

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
(10th June 1921 – 9th April 2021)

For over half a century, the Duke of Edinburgh was at the forefront of youth social action, volunteering, and non-formal education for young people. He held a passion for the lives and opportunities available to young people and worked tirelessly to make a lasting difference. His support – and genuine interest in the stories he heard – won him a place in the hearts of many people.

Each year more than 1,000 young people in The Boys’ Brigade are involved with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award through their local group in a programme of practical, cultural, and adventurous activities. The programme is designed to support the personal and social development of young people and is a great legacy left by the Duke.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

The Duke of Edinburgh’s involvement with The Boys’ Brigade began in 1955. Following the success of an ‘Adventurous Training’ course for Seniors in August 1955, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was taken up with great enthusiasm, and the first awards were presented to our members by the Duke on a visit to Scotland in 1958. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award changed the course and structure of awards in the Brigade and the Duke will be remembered for the influence he had on our work from the 1950s onwards.

The Duke took an active interest in the stories of those who had completed the programme and he made an effort to personally present many young people with their awards. When presented, awards were often given with a dose of the Duke’s well-known humour. On a visit to BB members in Lancashire in 1959 when observing them cooking sausages as part of their demonstration of outdoor pursuits, the Duke was asked if he would like to try some.

“No, thanks, I’ve just had lunch with the Lord Mayor at the Town Hall. He might think he didn’t give me enough to eat!”

In 2006 The Boys’ Brigade marked the 50th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. In September 2006, at the Brigade’s Annual General Meeting in Cardiff, a message of greeting from The Boys’ Brigade left en route to Edinburgh where the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award General Council was due to meet on 5th November 2006. Travelling by foot, bicycle, canoe and car, the message was delivered to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and was handed to the Duke by the presentation party. The message was read out and received loud applause from the large audience. The message underlined the special relationship between The Boys’ Brigade and the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Duke of Edinburgh alongside our Patron

At many of the events in the history of The Boys’ Brigade the Duke of Edinburgh was found at the side of Her Majesty The Queen when carrying out duties as the Patron of the organisation. One of the earliest of these prestigious events was the Reception at Balmoral Castle hosted by the Queen and Prince Philip on 6th September 1958. At this event, which marked the 75th anniversary of The Boys’ Brigade, the Royal party inspected a parade of 200 young people and 1200 leaders. The Duke seemed to greatly enjoy the proceedings and was able to provide a personal touch of congratulations to 21 young people who had achieved the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. Moreover, such was his enthusiasm to speak at length with each young person, he took much longer than the Queen (who was presenting Queen’s Badges) and Her Majesty was made to wait for the Duke to finish.

The Duke’s later life

In his later years, the Duke of Edinburgh continued his association with The Boys’ Brigade and was ever-present alongside the Queen at Garden Parties attended by recipients of the Queen’s Badge, the highest award in the Brigade. Late into his 90s the Duke continued his active support for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and it was a proud moment for those young people who received their certificates in person from the programme’s Founder at venues including St. James’s Palace. The Duke continued to demonstrate a keen interest in the work of The Boys’ Brigade and would spend considerable time speaking to award holders at presentation ceremonies.

In 2017 the Duke stepped back from public life, with one of his final interactions with members of The Boys’ Brigade taking place on 16th May 2016 where eight members from Northern Ireland were presented with their Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Awards at a special presentation at Buckingham Palace.

Legacy of The Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh will be remembered by The Boys’ Brigade as a pioneer in youth work through the award which bore his name but also for the personal interest and humour he shared with the young people he met during special Royal events. He will forever hold an important place in the history of our organisation, through the work which began in the 1950s. Whenever the Duke engaged with members of The Boys’ Brigade it was always on a personal level and it is for this that the Duke will be remembered most warmly.

Jonathan Eales, Chief Executive of The Boys’ Brigade, commented:

“We were saddened to hear of the death of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of our Patron Her Majesty The Queen. The thoughts and prayers of the whole BB family are with Her Majesty and the Royal Family at this time.”

With thanks to The Boys’ Brigade Archive Trust for providing much of the information found in this article.

 

Comments

  1. Lieutenant Jayne Evans says:

    I had fond memories of meeting Prince Philip when he and the Queen were visiting Higham Ferrers. I was asked to be in charge of the Boys. It was a very proud moment for everyone involved.

  2. Keith Vinerd (Nottingham) says:

    When Nottingham Battalion reached our 100th Gold DofE Award we were allowed an extra guest to act as a steward at the Gold Presentation and our Mrs. Winifred Beuzeval was chosen and tasked with drawing The Duke’s attention to our 100th recipient. When the moment came Winifred said “Sir, we have now reached 100”.
    “You don’t look old enough, my dear” responded The Duke with laughter all around!