Boris Johnson leads tributes as MPs remember ‘father of the nation’ Prince Philip

Monday, 12th April 2021, 7:37 pm
Leaders across the UK paid tribute to Prince Philip (Photo: Getty Images)

The Prime Minister led tributes in Parliament today (12 April) following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

MPs across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland returned to the House of Commons a day early from their Easter break to offer their respects to the late Prince Philip, who died aged 99 on Friday (9 April).

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‘He will be remembered with gratitude’

Boris Johnson said Prince Philip had touched the lives of millions of people through his achievements, including the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, and said the country would consider a “suitable memorial” to the duke.

Mr Johnson said that while Philip may have been “embarrassed or even faintly exasperated” to receive the tributes, he “made this country a better place and for that he will be remembered with gratitude and with fondness for generations to come”.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the duke was “without doubt the father of the nation, and will sorely be missed and impossible to replace”.

The PM went on to highlight Philip’s service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, his interest in the environment and his passion for invention and innovation.

He acknowledged that the duke “occasionally drove a coach and horses through the finer points of diplomatic protocol, and he coined a new word, dontopedalogy, for the experience of putting your foot in your mouth”.

But “the world did not hold it against him” and understood that he was “trying to break the ice, to get things moving, to get people laughing, and to forget their nerves”.

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “Mr Johnson told the Commons: “It is fitting that on Saturday his Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will be conveyed to his final resting place in a Land Rover which Prince Philip designed himself, with a long wheel base and capacious rear cabin.

“Because that vehicle’s unique and idiosyncratic silhouette reminds the world that he was above all a practical man, who could take something very traditional – whether a machine or, indeed, a great national institution – and find a way by his own ingenuity to improve it, to adapt it for the 20th and 21st century.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer added Britain “will not be the same in his absence” and referred to the Duke as a source of stability and “a rock” for the country for the last seven decades.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s sense of humour also brought smiles across the Stormont Assembly chamber in Northern Ireland, as members shared anecdotes of their encounters with him.

Stormont parties extended their condolences to the Queen and royal family during a special sitting of the Assembly on Monday, with First Minister Arlene Foster describing him as a “true intergenerational legacy to our youth, our United Kingdom and the world’s environment”.

The DUP leader welcomed the “respectful way” in which the Speaker and parties in Northern Ireland have responded to the passing of the duke, telling MLAs: “The Duke of Edinburgh demonstrated the desire for a better future, and particularly so for our younger generation.

“So let us embrace his legacy to positive effect as we all go about the job of seeing Northern Ireland reaching its full potential in the new century ahead of us.”

An ‘extraordinary life’

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led the tributes at Holyrood following Philip’s “extraordinary life”.

Ms Sturgeon described the duke as a “thoughtful man, deeply interesting and fiercely intelligent”.

Political parties in Scotland suspended campaigning after his death and, on Monday (12 April), MSPs stood for a minute’s silence before party leaders paid their own tributes to him.

Speaking about his ties with Scotland, she said: “He was educated in Moray, taught to sail by a Scottish trawler skipper, and was based at Rosyth for two years during the war.”

“It is right that our parliament pays tribute to him today.

“In doing so we mourn his passing and we extend our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and his family. We reflect on his distinguished wartime record, his love and support for the Queen and his decades of public service to Scotland, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

“Above all we celebrate and we honour an extraordinary life.”

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford led the tributes in the Welsh Parliament, saying he lived an “exceptional life” while devoting decades of his life to public service.

Following a minute’s silence at 11am on Monday (12 April), Mr Drakeford told the Senedd: “A very long life in any circumstances, brings with it a set of remarkable events witnessed and experiences, enjoyed or endured.

“To have lived such a life at the centre of world events and in a way which made almost every experience of public, rather than simply private interest, makes it even more remarkable still, and that was the life of the Duke of Edinburgh.

“Our thoughts today are with those members of the wider Royal Family who have to face that loss in the particularly distressing circumstances caused by the public health emergency.”