Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)
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Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh who left this world on April 9 at the age of 99.
Prince Phillip and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II were married for 73 years. Their presence in the Commonwealth, and specifically in Canada, has been constant since their first visit here together in 1951 when he made his first public speech.
Prince Philip was the ever-present companion and adviser to our sovereign. Before their marriage, and before his retirement from the Royal Navy in 1952, he was the youngest lieutenant given a ship’s command. Upon the Prince’s passing on April 9, he was one of the last surviving veterans of World War II. During the invasion of Sicily in 1943, he was credited with saving the HMS Wallace by devising a distraction using smoke to lure enemy bombers away from the ship.
Prince Philip learned to fly in 1952 and gained his Royal Air Force wings in 1953. He clocked 5,986 hours of flight in 59 different types of aircraft before his final flight in 1997, and at one point, he was qualified to fly every aircraft in the United Kingdom, including helicopters.
Prince Philip was a regular and welcome guest in Canada. He came more than 70 times. He had a close and warm relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces, receiving 11 honorary appointments and serving as honorary Colonel-in-Chief for six Canadian units.
Above all, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was husband, companion and adviser to our head of state Queen Elizabeth II. Upon her ascension to the throne, he became “liege man of life and limb” to the young queen, and for 70 years, he supported her reign. It is most fitting to use Her Majesty’s own words in her toast to him on their fiftieth wedding anniversary:
. . . he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.
On behalf of the Senate of Canada, I offer sincere condolences to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and, especially, his wife of 73 years Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Thank you.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)
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Honourable senators, on April 9 we heard of the passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and the world has mourned with the Royal Family since. As we pay tribute to Prince Philip’s life today, I would like to take time to acknowledge his devotion to the Queen and his strong ties to Canada.
Throughout his life, Prince Philip expressed devotion to the causes he held dear, including his role as a father of four, his participation in British service programs to further outdoor recreation, environmental conservation and quality education. But perhaps the greatest expressions of Prince Philip’s devotion were the sacrifices he made to be fiercely loyal and a companion to Queen Elizabeth II. Before having met her, Prince Philip had developed a passion for the British Navy after years of serving in the British Forces, but shortly after their wedding in 1947, Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England in 1952. Instead of continuing to further his career in the navy, it became Prince Philip’s life to support the Queen. Prince Philip was a steadfast partner, a rock who was steady and true, who was willing to give up his aspirations because of the vows he made to his wife. Honourable senators, what an expression of love that is.
Prince Philip was also a close friend to Canada. He visited locations in Canada more than 70 times between 1950 and 2013. He was given a ceremonial rank by the Canadian military as colonel-in-chief. Though I personally never had the chance to meet him, some Canadians who did describe Prince Philip as down-to-earth, honest and full of good humour, making visitations from coast to coast. He left admirable impressions across the country, but there is no doubt that Canadians left a mark on him, too. In the news of Prince Philip’s passing, Josh Traptow from the Monarchist League of Canada said: “. . . every time him and the Queen came to Canada . . . I think it very much felt like they were home.”
As a Canadian, I am proud that our country, strong and free, became a home across the Atlantic for the royal couple. As a member of the British Commonwealth, we as Canadian parliamentarians send our sympathies, thoughts and prayers to be with Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family as they grieve the loss of their husband, father and grandfather, Prince Philip. May his soul rest in peace.
Honourable colleagues, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest on Saturday, 17 April at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Many of the funeral arrangements were planned by Prince Philip himself, especially the choice of music, which included several pieces with a strong connection to his time in the navy. One such piece was “Eternal Father, Strong To Save.” This same hymn was played in Canada by the Dominion Carillonneur on the same day from the Peace Tower in Ottawa. The first verse goes as follows:
Eternal Father, strong to save
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave
Who bid’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.
There are so many ways in which this hymn resonates with our times and indeed with the life of His Royal Highness, who started his life as an exile, served in the Royal Navy, and was for our monarch, over a period of 73 years, Her Majesty’s stay and strength.
The commemorative ceremony in Ottawa also featured an original piece of music composed specifically for the occasion by Petty Officer 2nd class Nadia Pona of the Royal Canadian Navy entitled “His Royal Service Ends.” The piece celebrates the life of Prince Philip in honour of His Royal Highness’s special bond with the Canadian Armed Forces and his naval career.
Still on the nautical theme, Prince Philip was instrumental in the creation of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. After his first visit to B.C. in 1951, he contacted the Greenwich Museum and asked for the museum to send a collection of objects to the province in order to start a new naval museum.
Prince Philip visited my home province of British Columbia 12 times. Here are just a few of his notable visits. In 1954 he came to Victoria and attended the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, where he witnessed the Miracle Mile. He also poured the first aluminum ingot at the new smelter in Kitimat. In 1971, on the centenary of B.C. joining Confederation, the royal visitors sailed from Vancouver to Victoria on the Royal Yacht Britannia. In 2002, Prince Philip’s final visit to B.C. was an 11-day trip to Canada on the last leg of the Commonwealth Golden Jubilee tour celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. The Queen unveiled a stained glass window in the B.C. legislature in Victoria and dropped the puck at an NHL exhibition game in Vancouver. Of course, the Canucks won. To Her Majesty and the Royal Family, we offer our deepest condolences.
Honourable senators, today we remember and celebrate the life of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.
As the longest serving British monarch’s consort, Prince Philip was by Queen Elizabeth’s side for over 70 years. Over those 70 years, Prince Philip dedicated himself to a life of public service. He had been associated with over 900 charities in his lifetime, with a focus on the environment, youth mental health and well-being, and sport. The most notable of his charitable endeavours may be his founding of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which is a global program with the goal of challenging, empowering and recognizing young people between the ages of 14 and 24. The award has been active in Canada since 1963, helping over 500,000 young Canadians reach their potential. Two of our former Senate colleagues, Trevor Eyton and Joseph Day, served on the board of directors for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Many have said that one of Prince Philip’s greatest achievements was the strength of his support for the Queen during her reign. In paying tribute to her husband at their fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration, Queen Elizabeth II stated:
He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.
The Duke of Edinburgh made five official visits to my province of Nova Scotia. His first official visit was in 1951, when he accompanied then-Princess Elizabeth on a cross-Canada visit. They were greeted by thousands of enthusiastic Nova Scotians as they rode by train from Amherst to Truro and Halifax. While 1951 may have been his first official royal visit to Nova Scotia, several years earlier, serving as a young naval officer in the Royal Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic, Prince Philip had been in Halifax during the Second World War. As a former naval officer, it was fitting that his last official visit to Nova Scotia was to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy in 2010.
Honourable senators, on behalf of all Nova Scotians and the Progressive Senate Group, I wish to express my deepest condolences to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and to all members of the Royal Family. Thank you.
Honourable senators, the Queen once affectionately noted that Prince Philip was well known for declining compliments, whether giving or receiving. Still, when a young Princess Elizabeth said she was drawn to Philip’s forthrightness and independence, Philip in turn replied that:
To have been spared in the war and seen victory . . . to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one’s personal and even the world’s troubles seem small and petty.
Theirs was a marriage of choice. He willingly gave up his own royal titles and naval career to take up his role as consort, which he shaped and defined by running and reforming the royal households and managing people, including those marrying into a royal life of service.
As a young man, Philip had overcome many family traumas and much loss, most powerfully perhaps the assassination of his uncle Lord Mountbatten. So when my former CTV colleague Norm Perry commented on the “massive security entourage,” the Prince abruptly stood and left the interview set. He felt the media should have understood the need, given the ongoing threats to his family.
Philip was not a fan of the media’s relentless pursuit. During a visit to the Caribbean, he told the matron of a hospital, “You have mosquitoes. I have the press.” At a Diamond Jubilee reception, he demanded to know why the editor of a tabloid was there. “Because I was invited,” the man explained. To which Prince Philip responded, “Well, you didn’t have to come.”
It’s true, he was a man of a different time, and his comments sometimes offended, often ruffled, but everyone knew he usually meant what he said and said what he meant. He did not suffer fools. One of the Queen’s biographers said that Prince Philip was highly intelligent and a “far-thinking person,” and was an early adopter of computers and email. He enjoyed painting and birdwatching and was dedicated to improving education, particularly in science and technology, and to saving the rainforests decades before it was on anybody’s radar. He served as International President of the World Wildlife Fund, and his international award program has engaged more than 6 million young adults in community service and leadership development.
Philip was one of the busiest royals with more than 22,000 solo appearances and thousands more with his wife, and I had the honour to meet them both more than once. On his ninetieth birthday, Queen Elizabeth conferred on him the title of Lord High Admiral, the titular head of the Royal Navy — full circle to the navy life he forfeited to marry the beautiful princess. He was, she said, her “strength and stay.”
Tomorrow, the Queen will mark her ninety-fifth birthday, for the first time without her beloved partner of more than 73 years. We can only thank you both profoundly for your lives of service.
Honourable senators, I know that we were saddened to hear of the passing of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, as were all Canadians. We all share the grief of Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family. I now invite the Senate to observe a minute of silence as a sign of respect for His late Royal Highness.