Feature Image
Date
Published
Introduction

A tribute to the life of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

Body

The Duke of Edinburgh’s first visit to Australia, made during his military service and prior to his marriage to Queen Elizabeth II, was in 1940. This trip was the first of many, and it began a long relationship between Prince Philip and Australia. In the more than 70 years between The Duke’s first visit and his last, in 2011, The Duke and Her Majesty The Queen visited Australia and Victoria many times. 

Although Prince Philip ended his active naval career in July 1951, he was still very closely connected to the Armed Forces.  In Australia, Prince Philip held a number of military appointments, namely:  

  • Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal Australian Navy (1954)  
  • Field Marshal of the Australian Army (1954)  
  • Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force (1954)  
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (1959)  
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Australian Army Cadets (1963) 

Following his successful naval career, during which he saw active service in the Second World War, The Duke of Edinburgh began to focus on his work in support of The Queen following her Accession in 1952. In 2009 he became the longest serving British consort (companion to the Sovereign), a distinction previously held by Queen Charlotte, George III’s consort. His Royal Highness also had many interests which he pursued separately to his work with Her Majesty, including conservation, engineering, and The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award which he founded in 1956.  

First launched in 1956 in collaboration with German educationalist Kurt Hahn and Lord Hunt, expeditions leader of the first successful ascent of Everest, The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award has become the world's leading youth achievement award. In 1959, three short years after its inception, the Award was launched in Australia. It now operates in more than 130 countries. Over more than 60 years, it has inspired millions of young people to serve their communities, experience adventure and develop and learn outside of the classroom. Open to those between the ages of 14 and 24, the four key elements of the Award are Service, Skills, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey. 

In 2016 The Duke of Edinburgh's Award celebrated its 60th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion His Royal Highness encouraged people of all ages to set and achieve their goals through the Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Challenge. The Duke and other members of the Royal Family also marked the milestone at a series of events. 

The Duke of Edinburgh was Patron, President or otherwise connected with some 800 organisations. His Royal Highness was involved in a great many charities, with special interests in scientific and technological research, the conservation of the environment and the encouragement of sport. 

In Australia, these charities and organisations included the Australian Rugby Football League Board of Control, Birdlife Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Britain-Australia Society, and the Institution of Engineers Australia, to name a few. 

The Duke’s dedication to conservation was reflected in his contributions to Australian conservation efforts. The Duke served as President of the Australian Conservation Foundation from 1971 to 1976, having contributed to its creation. In this role, he was active in numerous causes and projects, including the protection of the Great Barrier Reef.  

His interest in industry was seen in the countless visits to research laboratories, mines, factories and engineering works, with the aim of contributing to the improvement of industrial life across the Commonwealth. 

In Australia, such visits included a 1962 visit to the Australian Academy of Science’s Shine Dome in Canberra; in 1968 opening the Wood Library at the Australian National University, a wood collection used in forestry and wood science education and research; and in 1988, to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne. He also sponsored six conferences on the human problems of industrial communities within the Commonwealth, in his capacity as Patron of The Work Foundation.  

Between 1959 and 2011, The Duke chaired the judging panel for the Prince Philip Designers Prize, which rewarded the innovation and creativity of designers and engineers contributing to the shape of daily life. In 1967, the Prince Philip Prize for Australian Design was created. It was supported by His Royal Highness, and it aimed to promote good Australian engineering. 

On 13 June 1988, Prince Philip was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for his service to the Australian military. On 26 January 2015 Prince Philip was made a Knight of the Order of Australia.   

After many years of service to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, in May 2017 it was announced that The Duke of Edinburgh had decided, with full support of The Queen, to no longer carry out public engagements. 

The Duke is celebrated as a man whose manner and style found a welcome home in Australia. During his final visit in 2011, it was noted by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard that The Duke’s ‘robust humour and common sense…always resonated with the Australian character.’