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The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland QC has paid tribute to the late, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburg who died Friday morning.
“It is with deep sorrow that I have learnt of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. “Through over seventy years of marriage, His Royal Highness supported Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in fulfilling her duties as Head of the Commonwealth. “The Duke shared with Her Majesty a high view of what humanity can achieve through cooperation and working together. His questioning mind and sense of adventure, combined with an engaging informality and forthrightness, enabled him to communicate huge positivity and faith as to what could be achieved through individual and international connection.
“His Royal Highness had experienced camaraderie and comradeship during World War II and service in the Royal Navy. Following his marriage in 1947, he sought out ways of bringing this spirit to the institutions and organisations of the Commonwealth, so that they would reap the dividends of collaboration in peacetime too – including for remote and marginalised communities.
“It was the Duke who in 1952, during their stay in Kenya en route to Australia and New Zealand, gave Princess Elizabeth the sad news that her father King George VI had died, and that she was Queen.
“Their Coronation tour of the Commonwealth in 1953, during which they covered 40,000 miles, took place in a world far less connected than it is today by swift travel and instant communications technology. “At the time of her coronation, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were tremendously glamorous and remarkably young. They symbolised hope for the future, and the spirit of goodwill and optimism rooted in a sense of belonging together as members of a worldwide family – not just of nations, but of people.
“Their tours were important expressions of Commonwealth inclusiveness, bringing together countries and communities which – although far apart on the map – were made to feel close because of shared inheritances and their continuing Commonwealth identity, made real in a special way through the physical presence of The Queen and the Duke.
“His Royal Highness had a farsighted understanding of the potential of Commonwealth connection, and his approaches to bringing people together from a wide range of backgrounds to develop leadership skills were regarded as innovative and brave. “With vigour and vision, the Duke of Edinburgh carved out an immensely valuable role for himself within Commonwealth networks, with a focus on projects and programmes through which he could build on his distinctive philosophy of cultivating understanding and self-reliance, and thereby complement Her Majesty’s official responsibilities and duties as Head of the Commonwealth.
“His Royal Highness described the Commonwealth Studies Conferences, which he founded in 1956, as “an extraordinary experiment”. They were a pioneering forum for bringing together emerging leaders and talented men and women from the management of industrial corporations, trade unions, the professions and civil society. His vision and prescience in creating this movement at this time was a striking demonstration of a depth of understanding of what would be needed to meet the challenges of the next millennium. “Similarly, his determination through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to offer opportunities for young people to stretch themselves, to gain confidence and develop resourcefulness, was important in nurturing social progress and innovation throughout the Commonwealth. “These were ground-breaking initiatives when first established, and continue – more than sixty years later – to offer valuable opportunities for people throughout the Commonwealth. “His Royal Highness was associated as patron or president with a range of Commonwealth charitable bodies and civil society organisations, taking a keen interest in their activities. He also made notable contributions as an early and prominent advocate for international action on the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.
“During a period of unprecedented change and technological progress, the Duke of Edinburgh supported The Queen with energy and imagination. They will each of them forever remain inextricably connected to the period when the Commonwealth developed and grew in stature.
“Past, present and future generations of Commonwealth citizens owe a debt of gratitude to Prince Philip for remaining constant and steadfast in his commitment to the Commonwealth, and his assuredness and vision of its global importance. “When meeting His Royal Highness, I always found him charming and witty, and he showed real kindness making every effort to put me at ease.
“In mourning his passing, we each share in some measure the far greater sense of loss and bereavement Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family will be feeling at this time of such sadness. “It falls to me, on behalf of the Commonwealth family which he served so long and so faithfully, to offer Her Majesty and all those close to His Royal Highness Prince Philip our heartfelt condolences and sympathy.” The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal sovereign states. Our combined population is 2.4 billion, of which more than 60 per cent is aged 29 or under.