This week Brighton and Hove Conservatives suspended campaigning for the City’s two by-elections for a number of days as a mark of respect to the Royal family following the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh.
This pause provided an opportunity for fond reflection of the Duke including what he meant to the country as well as hearing anecdotes of his many visits to Brighton and Hove.
It is clear from the stories and memories shared that the Duke always had time for the people of Brighton and Hove, in particular our young people.
These memories also shine a light on how Prince Philip's cheeky and irreverent style chimed with our City’s outlook and how through his visits he demonstrated a kindred spirit with the people of Brighton and Hove.
Two of our councillors recounted a story about the Duke of Edinburgh from the time of the last Conservative administration in the City between 2007-2011 that showed the impression the Duke made on a generation of young people in Brighton and Hove.
The then Council Leader Mary Mears and Chair of the Young People’s committee Vanessa Brown accompanied young people from across Brighton and Hove who had completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award to receive their award from the Duke himself at St James’s Palace in London.
Cllr Mears said: “The atmosphere in the Palace room was electric with young people from across the City taking turns to receive their Duke of Edinburgh award. They were so proud to be receiving the award and proud of their achievements. People should remember that the Duke had the time for young people, having a word for them and putting them at ease.
“The Duke caught me off-guard on that day when he suddenly popped up for a chat and we had a great laugh and a joke. It was clear that the Duke of Edinburgh award was very much his project and a reflection of his outlook on life including the importance of our young people getting outdoors and being active in the community. I have a photo from that day talking to the Duke and it sits in pride of place in my house and it is something I treasure and a day I will remember forever” Cllr Mears said.
Councillor Dee Simson said: ‘I remember I was in the Corn Exchange in Brighton celebrating City status with a group of lady councillors laughing and joking when this tall elegant figure came up behind us, leaned into the huddle and said “And who are you ladies”? It was the Duke of Edinburgh! He then joined us for a while. Such a charming man.”
Cllr Garry Peltzer Dunn, a long serving Councillor and former Leader of the Hove Borough Council shared this memory of the Duke:
“When the Duke was in Brighton & Hove I was introduced to him as a local councillor. He responded by saying that ‘there seems to be a terrible lot of you’! I think he was probably right.”
The Argus has reported on many other stories of the Duke’s visits to Brighton and Hove and Sussex this week.
The Duke’s commitment to the youth of Brighton was on display when he opened the Crew Club youth centre in Coolham Drive, Whitehawk in 2007 with the Queen.
The Duke also made a memorable visit to open the Brighton i360 attraction, showing an uncanny ability to capture the public mood when he cheekily made remarks about the delays in its opening.
As a former soldier of the Queens’ Regiment of the British Army I was fortunate enough to meet the Duke of a number of occasions and can say he was always a fantastic presence and created a buzz wherever he went. He was a man with a great sense of fun and he carried out his duties for the nation with a great distinction. He will be greatly missed.
Our thoughts must turn to the Queen today who has had the Duke by her side for so long.
We know the Queen’s deep devotion to duty. Many years ago she said ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service’.
Her service has been remarkable and we know she will continue but now it will be without her husband.
Rest in Peace Prince Philip and thank you for your service to Brighton and Hove.