The death of HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, on Friday the 9th April is deeply sorrowful for his family but in particular for Her Majesty the Queen. Married for 73 years they had known each other as teenagers and The Queen has said he was “my strength and stay”. His support for The Queen was unflinching. Our thoughts and prayers are with Her and her family.

He was a courageous man. He saw active naval service during the Second World War and as a young officer was mentioned in dispatches for bravery and quick thinking.

A man of many interests such as the natural environment, the Commonwealth, the importance of sport and technology – his strikingly innovative and effective initiative was The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. He started it 65 years ago. He believed in young people and said his Scheme was “a do-it-yourself growing up kit”. It now operates in 130 countries and territories in conjunction with many types of organisations. Last year in Northern Ireland alone 6018 young people started their programmes within the Scheme. Prince Philip’s scheme beneficially changed many young lives over many years.

Prince Philip was last in County Londonderry in 2016 when he accompanied The Queen on a steam train ride from Coleraine Station to the new Station at Bellarena which The Queen opened. He and The Queen hugely enjoyed the journey which they had taken once before in 1953 – the Coronation year. The route in 2016 was lined with spectators at vantage points and particularly so on the Downhill beach stretch.

As it has transpired it was a last kind farewell to the Duke from the County. May he rest in peace.