Navy

First Sea Lord Pays Tribute To Prince Philip And The 'Loss For The Nation'

Admiral Tony Radakin reflected on the Duke of Edinburgh's life and his contribution to the UK military.

First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin has spoken to Forces News about the Duke of Edinburgh and his lasting contributions to both the Royal Navy and the UK military as a whole.

Following the death of Prince Philip on Friday 9 April, Admiral Radakin spoke of how the duke held a number of honorary military titles during his lifetime and also had a distinguished active service career, something that should be "celebrated".

Admiral Radakin explained his reaction to the news of the Duke's death:

"[With] sadness, to be honest, I think sadness in terms of that loss for the nation, obviously sadness for Her Majesty the Queen and the whole Royal Family and that sadness, in terms of, for us as the Royal Navy and, I think, for all the Armed Forces.

"So this is a very special person who was close to all of us and it's a great loss, but this is also a time for reflection and as part of that reflection there is acknowledgment of a remarkable career and to celebrate much of what he did and what it meant for us."

Asked about Prince Philip's special relationship with the Royal Navy, he answered:

"Well, I think it means a great deal to all of us in uniform whether you're in the Royal Air Force, the British Army or the Royal Navy.

"I think it feels special for those of us in the Navy because he was very much one of us.

"As an officer, he came through this college [Dartmouth's Royal Naval College], he honed his leadership skills, he was a star cadet here.

"He won the prize for the best cadet and then he went on to have this phenomenal naval career, and it was in the middle of wartime, so aged 21 he was the second in command of a destroyer.

"He was mentioned in dispatches for his actions as part of the Battle of Cape Matapan, where we were taking on the Italian fleet, he was involved in the Indo-Pacific, he was involved in the North Atlantic and home waters as well as the Mediterranean.

A gun salute taking place in Prince Philip's honour in Portsmouth on Saturday (Picture: MOD).

"And then after only 11 years in the Royal Navy, he had command of his own ship."

Admiral Radakin continued: "So this is somebody who really was a wartime example of bravery, ingenuity, enthusiasm, of affection for the people that he led, and he's a great example to all of us and that carried on beyond his Naval career. 

"And the connection for us I think is very real. He was made Lord High Admiral in 2011, but he was also Captain General of the Royal Marines and he held that position for 64 years.

"Quite simply, he got us, and that was always obvious when he was meeting our men and women serving today.

"It was the human empathy of being interested in them; the banter, the wit, the difficult question, but it was all real, none of this was for show.

"He would have private visits particularly for units returning from operations, so whether that's one of the commando units returning from the Falklands or similarly after the Gulf War.

"So I think this is very, very real and I think that's why you're hearing these lovely magical stories where people want to talk about their connection with him."

Gun salutes took place across the United Kingdom, in Gibraltar, and on Royal Navy ships at sea on Saturday.

Forty-one rounds were fired – starting at midday and one every minute for 40 minutes.

The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral will take place on Saturday as a ceremonial, not state, event.