Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

There will be an endless stream of tributes for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in the days ahead. His BBC obituary depicts a self reliant man of substance, including “22,219 solo engagements since 1952”. However one feels towards the Royals, his was an extraordinary legacy of duty and service.

Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten
Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, then the husband of Princess Elizabeth, resumes his attendance at the Royal Naval Officers’ School at Kingsmoor in Hawthorn, Wiltshire on July 31, 1947.
PNA Rota/Getty Images

Wartime service

By all accounts, he demonstrated true leadership, initiative and courage throughout his Naval career. My favorite of his service stories happened in July 1943, when aged just 22, he was credited with saving the HMS Wallace (L64) which came under heavy German bombardment during the invasion of Sicily.

The Luftwaffe, attacking his ship at night, were closing in with their bombing accuracy and the quick thinking Prince devised a plan to launch a raft with smoke floats while the ship itself remained motionless in the water for an extended tense period. The ruse worked and the planes eventually left, assuming the ship was successfully destroyed.

Harry Hargreaves, one of the Wallace‘s crew, said in 2003: “Prince Philip saved our lives that night. I suppose there might have been a few survivors, but certainly the ship would have been sunk. He was always very courageous and resourceful and thought very quickly.”

Historical record, learn and reconcile

In 2017, UK based TLBP associate Ross Stewart wrote to enquire if the prince might honour us with his signature. We received the most pleasant and cordial letter from his private secretary, Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell, understandably declining our request.

Brigadier Miller-Bakewell however, perfectly articulated The Log Book Project’s raison d’etre in his closing statements : “You have assembled a good historical record as well as creating the hope for reconciliation and the chance to learn valuable lessons from the past.”

We agree wholeheartedly. Thank you Sir, rest in peace.

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