Prince Philip: Sir David Attenborough pays tribute to an 'admirable man' who was 'vigorous' in his conservation work

  • Sir David Attenborough pays tribute to The Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip was "an admirable man" who was "vigorous" in his conservation work, his friend Sir David Attenborough has said.

Prince Philip died aged 99 at Windsor Castle on Friday. He dedicated decades of his life to royal duty and became the longest-serving consort in British history.In a special ITV News programme, 'The Duke Fondly Remembered', broadcaster and naturalist Sir David reflected on Prince Philip's life and work.

Sir David said the Duke was a "very effective, very rigorous" president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) charity, now known in the UK as the World Wide Fund for Nature.

When the organisation was founded in 1961, the Duke became its inaugural president .

"Any idea that he’d be resting on his royal position was absurd. He was there to do a job and he expected everyone else to do a job,” Sir David added.

  • Sir David recalls Phillip's former position as president of the WWF

“One of the reasons people liked big game hunting was because it was the wild. They are expert trackers," Sir David said.

"They understood about animal behaviour and they took a realistic view about what the natural world was like in terms of life, death and animals hunting each other. Human beings were animals and were also hunting.”

  • Sir David addresses the Duke's love for hunting

Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and went on to gain promotion to first lieutenant. He was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered to finally end the Second World War.

Sir David said: “I found him an admirable man. He was a man of action of course and with a distinguished record in the Navy."

When his wife became Queen, the Duke had to give up his naval career. Sir David suspects Philip missed serving in the Navy.

"He hated formality, he found it suffocating and he always did his best to try and break down formality, doing so by being jokey and colloquial,” he said. Sir David also empathised with the Duke’s decision to retire from public life in 2017.

"I was sorry he did that. Whilst there are people older than one’s self, you think if they can do it, I can keep going too,” he said.

“He didn’t care about convention. If he decided he wasn’t doing the job the way he wished it to be done, he wouldn’t have dragged on he would resign. Which of course is what he did.” Sir David also said that as a member of the Royal Family, Philip played a "very important" role in its evolution.

He said: “Royalty in an indefinable way has modernised itself without actually becoming irrelevant - that evolutionary process Philip played a very important part in.”