Henley pays homage to the Duke of Edinburgh
Folks in the Henley area spoke fondly of meeting the Duke of Edinburgh and how he made them laugh.
They joined in the many tributes from statesmen and celebrities to ordinary people around the world for the Queen’s husband, who died at Windsor Castle on Friday at the age of 99.
Prince Philip, the oldest husband in British history, had spent nearly a month in hospital where he underwent heart surgery before returning home 24 days before his death.
His funeral will be at St George’s Chapel in Windsor tomorrow (Saturday).
The television service will be preceded by a ceremonial procession inside the park and a minute of silence at 3 p.m.
Prince Philip’s last visit to Henley was in June 2012, when he accompanied the Queen on a tour of Henley Business School and a community tea party to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
They drove up to Hambleden Lock and then got on board Alaska, the oldest active passenger steamboat, on the seven-minute trip to the Greenlands.
Along the way, they were cheered by crowds of people lining the river and waving flags.
This is something the Queen took lightly in apologizing to then-mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin for making the city so busy.
Ms Hodgkin, of Nicholas Road, Henley, recalled: “I was very lucky to be invited to meet me and to be introduced to the Queen and the Duke. I had just returned from vacation, expecting to be part of the crowd, but returned to urgent messages from the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire.
“Immediately after the Queen spoke to me, the Duke of Edinburgh was suddenly there.
“He shook my hand, lifted my mayor chain and said, ‘Hmm, nice badge.’ I managed to hold back the laughter I desperately wanted to let out and gave a polite smile. I think a lot of people will have similar stories.
“I’m sad he’s gone – it’s the end of an era. We grew up with him and the Queen in our lives, so we know there will be changes.
“There is great respect for the Duke and all he has done for the many organizations he has been involved in and the way he has supported the Queen and the entire Royal Family.
“My husband Richard and I extend our condolences to the entire Royal Family.”
The royal couple attended a garden party with more than 4,000 guests under bright sunshine. They were greeted by the Lord Lieutenants of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire and given a 60kg cake in the shape of the three counties.
The Duke wore a navy blue suit and a straw hat, while the Queen wore a sky blue jacket and hat and a cream dress.
Charlotte Snowden, who covered the event as a photographer for the Henley Standard, said: ‘My fondest memory is of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh chatting to each other as she cut the cake. It was nice to be so close to them. They are experts at putting people at ease and I watched them talk to Terry Wogan.
“I followed them for about two hours and it was one of the best days of my career. I photographed a lot of famous people, but accompanying them was special – I was one of the few chosen photographers and it was great to be able to take so many pictures of them.
The royal family watched a river contest called Time and the Thames, which was narrated by Sir Steve Redgrave and actors Jeremy Irons and Simon Williams, among others. He told the story of the river and presented a procession of 27 boats, including Royal Thames and Gloriana.
There was also a flyby with two RAF Benson helicopters and members of Henley’s Acorn Music Theater Company performed on the lawns dressed as animals.
Gail Rosier, Artistic Director of Acorn, recalled: “I was on a committee with Lucie Henwood and Caryn Moberly and we were invited to do a performance as the Queen and Prince Philip walked down the river.
“We had a group of young people in a boat and when the queen passed the bank, people disguised as dragonflies, frogs and kingfishers were performing.
“We were then introduced to Prince Philip and The Queen at Henley Business School. The Queen was very nice and shook our hands and then the Duke of Edinburgh walked by and he was amazing. He had sparkling blue eyes and was full of energy.
“He said, ‘Were you part of the group that rowed the Thames for the London show?’ And. of course, Lucie and Colin Henwood were part of it. He knew what he was talking about.
“He was full of beans, he was engaging and lovable. He enlightened us all.
“The Queen and Prince Philip walked around the garden to meet our artists and spoke to all the young people involved.
Other guests included Paul Barrett, chairman of the directors of the Chiltern Center in Henley, who had the opportunity to shake hands with the Queen.
The charity, which cares for disabled youth, had just received the Queen’s Award for its voluntary service.
Mr Barrett said: “We had a discussion about the center and she is a lovely person to meet.
“I have met her on several occasions, but I have never had the chance to speak with Philip. We are very lucky to have her and everyone is feeling for her during this rather sad time. At 99 years old, you can’t be too surprised, but it will always be overwhelming when it does.
“I would echo what the Duke of York said when he said he was the nation’s grandfather in so many ways.
Mr Barrett had seen the Duke of Edinburgh in the flesh decades before when he opened the new Deal Pier in Kent in 1952, which had been rebuilt after World War II.
He said, “I was there because at the time not everyone had television. I was an eight year old boy and I was in awe of it all.
“There were all those big looking black cars and crowds of people around the pier. From what I remember, he cut a ribbon and entered the pier as the first official visitor.
Twelve years later, in April 1964, the Duke of Edinburgh made an informal visit to celebrate the centenary of Maharajah’s Well at Stoke Row.
He landed a helicopter on the village green and was greeted by well committee administrators before passing through the crowds of people who had gathered for the occasion.
He was invited to participate in a ceremonial water raffle and mix it with water that had been specially stolen from the Ganges.
After receiving an ivory cigar box, he visited the nearby house occupied by the well keeper and the village church for a memorial service. From there, he walked to the cherry orchard adjoining the well and planted a tree before going to meet a group of about 70 people at the village hall.
The majority began to defend the prince, who insisted, “Please sit down.”
He was then invited to the Cherry Tree Inn for lunch before getting back into his helicopter and leaving for Newbury.
Award-winning artist Bill Mundy has been invited to produce Duke of Edinburgh paintings on two occasions.
Mr. Mundy, who has lived in Henley for 43 years, has been making miniature portraits since the late 1970s.
But the first time he met Prince Philip was at a garden party in Bangkok in the late 1960s, while working for his own Singapore-based advertising agency. His first commission was a painting of the Sultan of Johar.
It was in 1984 that he was first commissioned to paint a portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, as he was a patron of the charity.
Mr Mundy recalled: “I thought it would be Charles, but the palace called me and told me it was the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip spent an hour sitting at Buckingham Palace while Mr Mundy sketched and took photos to help him with the painting.
“We were in a special room where the portraits are made and the queen has a different one,” said the artist.
“We had a long conversation. He was a very nice man and a great sense of humor. We talked about various things and he saw that I had a camera with me.
“He told me he had a similar one when he visited the Galapagos Islands, but he dropped it in the water and ruined it.
“He was very interested in art because he painted himself.
“He was so nice and such an interesting man. After I finished he showed me all the gifts that visiting presidents and sultans had given to the royal family. It was a truly wonderful experience.
He said Prince Philip signed the painting, which was rare.
Mr. Mundy was asked to paint another portrait three years ago and he showed it to her at a dinner party in Windsor.
It represents the Duke of Edinburgh in front of three stained glass windows, which he himself had drawn. They were commissioned as part of the restoration of Windsor Castle following a fire in 1992. Mr Mundy said Prince Philip was among his most distinguished and dear guardians.
He said, “He’s very close to the top. I painted two sultans and various other personalities.
“When the Queen came to Henley a few years ago to open the new Perpetual building, I was asked to paint a miniature photo of her favorite horse winning a race in Newbury and presented it to her.
“I would say he was the most interesting person to talk to while I was capturing them.
“When I lived in Singapore I went to the Sultan of Johar’s palace several times and it was also very interesting, but Prince Philip was such a kind man and I had the privilege of painting his portrait. He also had a very good memory.
In 2017, TV presenter Phillip Schofield arrived late for the launch of the Friends program at the Chiltern Center.
Schofield, who lives in Fawley, had filmed a documentary about the Duke of Edinburgh’s award program at St James’ Palace.
He apologized to the crowd on his arrival, explaining that he had interviewed Prince Philip, and added: “You can’t really say, ‘Do you want to hurry, I’m going to be late.’