'Prince Philip: A Celebration' display opens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

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'Prince Philip: A Celebration' display opens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
Silver-gilt casket presented to Prince Philip with the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh in 1949, made by the Hamilton and Inches Silversmith and Jewellery workshops. © Royal Collection Trust / All Rights Reserved.

EDINBURGH.- A visit to Edinburgh’s royal palace includes a special display commemorating the remarkable life and legacy of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Britain’s longest-serving consort.

Through more than 60 objects, Prince Philip: A Celebration charts significant events and achievements in The Duke of Edinburgh’s life, including his role as consort, his support for Her Majesty The Queen at home and abroad, and his wide-ranging patronages and associations. Many items have been chosen to highlight His Royal Highness’s close links with Scotland and Edinburgh.

Prince Philip’s association with Scotland began at the age of 13, when he became a pupil at Gordonstoun school. The school placed a strong emphasis on physical activity, supporting the local community and helping students to achieve their full potential, and it was the school’s headmaster, Kurt Hahn, who would later suggest that Prince Philip establish a programme for young people based on these principles. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme is now the world’s leading youth achievement award and more than six million young people in the UK have participated since it was founded in 1956. Examples of Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme badges, as presented by His Royal Highness, are on display.

Upon leaving school Prince Philip entered the Royal Navy, and he saw action in the Mediterranean during the Second World War. In his Midshipman’s log book from 1940–1, he describes his role operating HMS Valiant’s searchlight during the Battle of Cape Matapan off the coast of Greece: ‘My orders were that if any ship illuminated a target I was to switch on and illuminate for the rest of the fleet’.

The display also brings together items from Prince Philip’s wedding to HRH The Princess Elizabeth in 1947, including the wedding invitation, order of service and wedding breakfast menu. On the occasion of their wedding, Prince Philip was granted the royal dukedom of Edinburgh, and the royal couple were known as TRH The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh until The Queen’s accession in 1952. On display for the first time is the silver-gilt casket presented to Prince Philip with the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh in 1949, as well as the casket presented with the Freedom of the City of Glasgow in 1955, made of oak from the roof of Glasgow Cathedral.

His Royal Highness went on to make frequent visits to Scotland throughout his life. A bronze bust of Prince Philip by the late Edinburgh-based sculptor Vincent Butler shows him wearing the academic robes of the Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, a position he held from 1953 until 2010. The bust was presented to His Royal Highness during a visit to the University in 2002 to mark his 50th anniversary as Chancellor.

As well as carrying out official engagements, Prince Philip spent time in Scotland relaxing with his family. The display includes a Highland ensemble worn regularly by His Royal Highness at Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s private residence in Aberdeenshire. Made in 1952, the kilt is of Balmoral tartan, which was designed by Prince Albert in the 19th century and inspired by the local Deeside granite. Prince Philip was a keen amateur artist, and his landscape of Loch Muick, which lies within the boundary of the Balmoral estate, is on display.

His Royal Highness was an enthusiastic collector of contemporary Scottish art and acquired a large number of works from the annual exhibitions of the Royal Scottish Academy. Paintings from this collection, including works by Robin Philipson, James Orr, Barbara Balmer and Victoria Crowe, are on display at the Palace, with many reflecting His Royal Highness’s interests in Scottish landscapes and wildlife.

HMY Britannia, also known as The Royal Yacht Britannia, was built at Clydebank and launched by The Queen in 1953. The Duke of Edinburgh took an active role in designing both the technical aspects of Britannia, drawing on his own practical naval experience, and the interiors of the Royal Apartments. The display includes two of the architect Sir Hugh Casson’s original design sketches for the yacht’s sun lounge and dining room, as well as a silver model of Britannia presented to The Queen and Prince Philip by Lloyd’s Register of Shipping in 1972.

His Royal Highness travelled on HMY Britannia to undertake his first solo overseas tour in 1956–7, opening the Olympic Games in Melbourne before visiting the Antarctic. Prince Philip’s copy of the programme from the Olympic Games is on display, alongside two paintings by the artist Edward Seago, who accompanied The Prince on the tour and is believed to have been the first professional artist to paint views of the Antarctic.

Gifts presented to Prince Philip during State Visits, overseas tours and official engagements demonstrate the extent of his travel in support of The Queen. Examples on display include a Moai sculpture presented on a visit to Easter Island in 1971 and a silver model of a windmill presented on the occasion of Prince Philip’s visit to Caledonian Flour Mills, Leith in 1955.

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