Prince Philip

Prince Philip: 'Warrior And Warfighter' Who Dined With Troops

A senior Army officer has paid his tribute and explained what made the Duke of Edinburgh an ideal Colonel-in-Chief.

Prince Philip was "perpetually fit, clearly a leader of the strongest style, but also a warrior and a warfighter", said the colonel of the British Army's most senior armoured regiment.

General Sir Tom Beckett, Colonel, the Queen's Royal Hussars, spoke ahead of the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Remembering the military veteran and senior royal figure, the Army officer spoke of annual engagements by the Duke – including a visit to meet operational personnel in Iraq in 2006.

"Notably, he'd eat with the regiment in the cookhouse – 400 soldiers sitting around him," said Gen Beckett.

Recalling an exercise during the 1970s in Paderborn, Germany, he added: "[Prince Philip] was in the commanding officer's tank when they crossed the line of departure at the start of a battlegroup attack."

The colonel described the Duke as "the epitome of what you would want as a Colonel-in-Chief" and cited the Royal Navy veteran's significance as a communicator with an interest in the people, equipment and traditions of the military.

"He was a leader, direct in his communications, he was interested in our soldiers, he was interested in the equipment that we manned, he was interested in our roles and the operations that we went on, he was interested in our history and our traditions.

"He himself perpetually fit, clearly a leader of the strongest style, but also a warrior and a warfighter – it was a great honour to have him as our Colonel-in-Chief," he added.

The Duke of Edinburgh visited troops in Basra, Iraq in 2006 (Picture: US Department of Defense).
Prince Philip in Basra, Iraq, in 2006 (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Remembering Prince Philip's character, Gen Beckett recalled the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Balaclava and the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War.

A regimental party had visited Ukraine to mark the event in 2004, with Prince Philip also attending the ceremony.

"The visit was made up of serving soldiers, old comrades and then the pipes and drums of the regiment, and he accompanied it," said Gen Beckett.

"The Ukrainian government wanted him to travel in his own vehicle, which would be a protected vehicle, and he refused.

"He wanted to go in the bus with the regimental party and he wanted to listen to the tour guide who was taking the party through the battles.

"At times, demonstrating his interest in us but also in the campaign, he corrected the tour guide on a few occasions – to put them right about certain aspects of various battles."

The colonel said members of the Queen's Royal Hussars are "indebted" to the Duke of Edinburgh, due to his interest in them.

The sentiment echoes that of many other tributes being made across the military for Prince Philip, who was laid to rest on Saturday in a ceremonial, not state, funeral at Windsor Castle.