Today at 3pm, Redditch and the entire nation will pause for a one-minute silence to pay our respects to His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.
This national one-minute silence will give us all an opportunity to reflect on Prince Philip’s extraordinary and remarkable life. A life he dedicated to serving the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and, most importantly, his wife of 73 years Her Majesty The Queen.
Following the Duke’s passing, my thoughts have been dominated by how Her Majesty must be feeling. What a life they led together. They were clearly devoted to one another and Her Majesty has made no secret of just how much she relied on her beloved husband.
I for one hugged my loved ones that little bit tighter on Friday, with the death of Prince Philip bringing into sharp focus just how precious and special the time is we have with our loved ones. I’m sure many of you reading this did the same.
But I know from reading the tributes Prince Philip’s children and grandchildren have released in the days since his death that the Duke never liked too much fuss and would much prefer us to ‘get on with the job’ as Prince William put it.
And Prince Philip did just that. He got on with his job and carried out just over 22,000 solo engagements.
One of those engagements was a visit to Redditch. There are fantastic archived photos of Prince Philip visiting Church Hill, Redditch YMCA, the Swinging Sporran pub and the Kingfisher Shopping Centre on the 4th May 1978.
The pictures perfectly encapsulate just what a brilliant man he was. He can be seen engrossed in conversation with residents who had lined the streets to see the visiting Duke. In other photos he had a beaming smile as he visited the Swinging Sporran. The Duke must have made one of his legendary jokes as everyone else captured in the photo was smiling too.
I also saw how the Duke of Edinburgh changed the lives of people he had never even met. Throughout my two decades as a Scout Leader, I saw again and again how the Duke of Edinburgh Award was something young people from all backgrounds aspired to achieve, and how many lives it transformed in the process. I heard the Duke described it as a “do it yourself growing up kit” – what a wonderful legacy for nearly three million young people.
When we pause for one-minute, I will reflect on all of this, but above all else, I will remember his dedication to Her Majesty and the love he had for his family.