The head of the Royal Navy has paid tribute to Prince Philip, describing the Duke of Edinburgh as “a close friend to the service for over eight decades”.
Philip had close ties with the Royal Navy throughout his life, from serving during the Second World War to becoming the service’s Lord High Admiral on his 90th birthday.
Following the duke's death on Friday morning at the age of 99, the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Tony Radakin CB ADC, said in a video message that he feels “immensely saddened” and remembered the duke’s “strong character, zeal and great charm”.
Admiral Radakin said: “His connection with the naval service spanned his life, from his evacuation from Greece in HMS Calypso at just 18 months old, up to his final public engagement at the Royal Marines parade at Buckingham Palace in 2017.
“His genuine empathy, affection and engagement with the Royal Navy resonated with us all.”
He added: “Despite his increasing public profile, Prince Philip remained first and foremost a naval officer, neither seeking nor being awarded any special privileges for his position in the Royal Family.
“Prince Philip retained his involvement in the Royal Navy throughout his life, through official visits, patronage and association with naval charities and clubs, and always enjoyed visiting Royal Navy establishments and ships, and especially meeting sailors and marines.
“His generous spirit has delighted all aspects of the naval service, and his deep understanding of our values, standards and ethos made him such a close friend to the service for over eight decades, and he will really be deeply missed by all of us.”
After leaving school, Philip joined the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in May 1939, where he was praised for being the best cadet.
He met the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, at the college after he took her on a tour.
After completing his training, Philip served in the Mediterranean, North Sea and Pacific, and was praised for his bravery and enterprise during the battle of Cape Matapan in Greece.
In 1942, he was promoted to First Lieutenant of HMS Wallace, and was described as “an officer of unusual promise, noted for his seamanship skills, high intellect, good judgment, strong character, zeal and great charm”, Admiral Radakin said.
After the Second World War, he was posted to Pwllheli in north Wales, and as an instructor at HMS Royal Arthur in Wiltshire. He became engaged to Princess Elizabeth while he was in Wiltshire.
Following their marriage in 1947, they lived together in Malta during his service in the Mediterranean.
Philip was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and given his first command of HMS Magpie in July 1950.
But Philip left full-time service in 1951 due to the deteriorating health of his father-in-law, George VI and the Queen-in-waiting Princess Elizabeth’s imminent ascension to the throne required them to take on more royal responsibilities.
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