His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
We are saddened to hear of the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Given his long life and huge range of interests, few members of our royalty were so well-travelled as H.R.H. Prince Philip. Considering his role in national life, it's impressive that he visited Shetland as many as four times. First was in September 1953, when the whole of the Empire was in adulation with our young queen. Her Majesty was unable to come here for the scheduled visit but her husband still came, and islanders were agog to see the charismatic Duke of Edinburgh.
Visit number two, in August 1960, was the big one. The idea was for H.M. the Queen and her husband to experience this part of the kingdom, and for local folk to see their head of state. They visited schools, a new housing scheme, industries, an agricultural show. Shetlanders had seen the Prince in North Star Cinema newsreels, but now they saw him in an open-top Rolls Royce, here in Shetland!
The next time Prince Philip came north was September 1969, and that time it was Shetland's day. It was the 500th anniversary of our transfer from Norway to Scotland and, again, huge crowds thronged Lerwick to glimpse the Queen and the now-familiar Duke. Folk squeezed onto pavements and wharves to see the Royal couple come ashore from the yacht Britannia. Outwith the town, Prince Philip called at Sandwick and accompanied H.M. the Queen for a school opening at Dunrossness.
Shetland life changed massively by the time of Prince Philip's fourth visit in May 1981. Oil dominated our economy, and Europe's biggest terminal merited a Royal inauguration. That visit was a short one, but long enough for me to glimpse my only view of the Prince, passing by in the Rolls Royce. Magnetism isn't a force I understand, but I experienced it that day.