R.I.P. H.R.H.

Later this afternoon the nation will mourn the passing, and celebrate the life, of one of its longest serving public servants — HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

17th April 2021

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 10 June 1921–9 April 2021 (Source: Rex Features)

Creative. Imaginative Inventive. Innovative. Probably not be the first words you think of when hearing the name ‘Prince Philip’.

Dry, witty and sarcastic are more likely to be some of the adjectives that spring to mind, and it’s his famous dry sense of humour that would explain his reply to the Queen when discussing funeral arrangements several years ago. He is reported to have said: “Just stick me in the back of a Land Rover and drive me to Windsor” when asked how he would like to ‘go out’.

It’s also a typical example of his equally famous determination, that he really will be transported along the funeral route in a converted Land Rover.

The Duke began working with Land Rover in 2003 to create a bespoke hearse based on a Defender TD5 130 Gun Bus chassis and personally designed the open-top rear section to hold his wooden coffin. The vehicle has a hybrid-electric motor and has been painted Dark Bronze Green to resemble military Land Rovers reflecting the Prince’s long and illustrious military career.

The hearse will process slowly through the grounds of Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral. A bearer party from the Grenadier Guards will then place the coffin on the vehicle at the state entrance of the castle, before beginning the eight-minute journey to the west steps of St .George’s Chapel.

Iconic, tough, British and exceptionally long-lasting — Land Rover & The Duke (Source: REUTERS)

There have been, and will be many more tributes to the late Duke focussing on his many military, charity and educational achievements, but we’re going to focus on his creative side (we are in the innovation business after all).

At times, his interest in design was entwined with his official position. From 1952 to 1999, he was the president of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, where he helped oversee the designs for coins, seals, and medals, and was instrumental in the launch of a newly designed coinage released in 1952, produced to mark the beginning of the queen’s reign.

In 1992, following the fire at Windsor Castle, the Prince assumed the role of chairman of its restoration committee. According to the Royal Collection Trust, he was closely involved both in the restoration process of the castle as well as the design of the stained glass windows for a new chapel at Windsor Castle, making sketches that he shared with Joseph Nuttgens, the stained glass artist who designed the windows, which were installed in the chapel in 1997.

Prince Philip’s sketches for the stained glass windows for a private chapel at Windsor Castle (Source: The Royal Collection Trust)
The finished window at Windsor Castle (Source: PA Archive/PA Images)

Prince Philip was apparently full of inventive ideas and besides coming up with a rather mundane-yet-practical boot scraper that didn’t drop muddy debris, he designed jewellery for his wife, including her diamond engagement ring and a bracelet.

The diamonds used in the bracelet came from an exquisite tiara owned by Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg. She gave it to her son to create some jewellery for his soon-to-be fiancée; Elizabeth’s striking engagement ring contained diamonds from the tiara — a three carat diamond solitare with five smaller diamonds on either side. The Duke then used the remaining jewels to personally design an Art Deco-style bracelet for his bride, which was crafted by London jeweller Philip Antrobus and presented to the Princess on her wedding day.

RCIN 200177 — The Queens Wedding Bracelet (rct.uk)

His favourite invention appears to have been a specially customised sausage barbecue with sauce receptacles that the Duke enjoyed using at Balmoral. Philip was said to be quick to dish out a vast array of steaks, sausages and burgers — not just to family but to chauffeurs and staff in the group too. Several Prime Ministers have also commented on how much fun and how good the food was at these royal BBQ’s (apparently, the Queen used to don her rubber gloves and wash up after they tucked into the huge feast, rinsing the dishes in a nearby stream.)

So as you watch the funeral this afternoon and the commentators inevitably mention the Prince’s colourful public persona and describe him as a gaff prone, politically incorrect “cantankerous old sod” (his words, not ours!), spare a thought for Philip the artist, Philip the designer and Philip the inventor too.

As a final ‘aside’, Philip was recognised with countless awards and accolades during his life, and while he did not patent any of his inventions, many of his titles and honours were granted by ‘Letters Patent’ from HM the Queen, and her Father, King George VI before her.

It is very rare to hear the term ‘patent’ used in this archaic form, and we can’t pass up the opportunity to point it out:

19th of November, 1947

The KING has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm, bearing date the 19th instant, to declare that Lieutenant Sir Philip Mountbatten, K.G., R.N., shall be entitled to hold and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness.

London Gazette, issue 38128, Nov. 21, 1947, p. 1/5495

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20th of November, 1947

The KING has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm, bearing date the 20th instant, to confer the dignity of a Duke of the United Kingdom upon Lieutenant His Royal Highness Sir Philip Mountbatten, K.G., R.N., and the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, by the name, style and title of BARON GREENWICH, of Greenwich in the County of London, EARL OF MERIONETH, and DUKE OF EDINBURGH.

London Gazette, issue 38128, Nov.21, 1947, p. 1/5495 and p. 2/5496

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22nd of February, 1957

The QUEEN has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm bearing date 22nd February 1957, to give and grant unto His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT, GBE, the style and titular dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The QUEEN has been pleased to declare her will and pleasure that his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh shall henceforth be known as His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

London Gazette, issue 41009, 22 Feb 1957, p. 5/1209

Rest in Peace Your Royal Highness.

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