WORCESTER’s MP Robin Walker writes for the Observer…
I was greatly saddened to learn of the death of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. This has been an extraordinary life well lived. As a war hero in the Navy, as the world and our country’s longest living consort to a Queen, as the rock of support for our longest serving monarch in her duties at home and around the world and as a dutiful member of the Royal Family, Prince Philip has made an incredible contribution to our country, to the Commonwealth and its history over well over seventy-five years of public service.
For any individual to live to ninety-nine and to keep working into their nineties is remarkable but for someone who has borne such a burden of public service is even more so. As we heard the sad news of his passing my first thoughts were with her Majesty the Queen for whom he has been such a source of strength.
I was very lucky to have met the Duke on a number of occasions and on each he had the capability to light up a room. I first met him when I was a small child of eight or nine at the Royal Welsh show when my father was Secretary of State for Wales, I had been carefully primed to address him as your Royal Highness but in the excitement of the moment I completely forgot to do so. He was charm personified and made no fuss but joked with me in such a friendly matter that I was immediately put at ease.
The most special meeting was during the diamond jubilee year when he and the Queen came to Worcester to open the Hive. Everyone who met him that day attested to a larger-than-life personality, a great charm and an immediate wit, focused on putting people at their ease. I now realise more than ever what an incredible privilege it was to be presented both to the sovereign and to such a remarkable man who has been her strength and support. I also know from my work in Northern Ireland that so many places all over our United Kingdom have fond memories of his visits.
The whole country owes this extraordinary man a debt of gratitude for his service but also for his remarkable legacy. His creation of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme for young people has created so many memorable experiences and done so much to support young people in undertaking volunteering, learning about the great outdoors and building character and resilience. In a very real way, his legacy will live beyond him in so many lives enhanced, and people inspired.
Meanwhile, local elections are scheduled to take place on May 6, 2021 and it will be another opportunity for people in Worcester to have their say and cast a vote for the candidates which best represent your views.
With regard to the pandemic, I was pleased to see over 10 million people in the UK have received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is another in our vaccination program. I want to thank all the staff and volunteers in Worcester that have been involved to ensure such a smooth roll-out. Second doses are crucial to maximising the strength and duration of protection from the virus and I urge everybody in Worcester and across the country to get their jab as soon as possible.