Prince Philip: Carriage driving - gentleman’s sport pioneered by Duke

Tap above to watch video report by Amy Lewis


A gentleman’s sport pioneered by the Duke of Edinburgh, carriage driving was Prince Philip’s favourite past time in his later years.

Speaking at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, where he was a regular competitor, he reflected on how he got involved.

I started driving because I’d been playing polo and I decided I would give up polo when I was 50. And I was looking around to see what next and what there was available. And I suddenly thought we’ve got horses and carriages so why don’t I have a go?

Prince Philip

Prince Philip wasn’t satisfied with simply having a go – the Duke helped carriage driving become an international sport by developing the rules, and was instrumental in getting the three-day event included in the Windsor Show in the 1970s.

Those who raced against him including Dick Lane, who was based near Guildford, say the duke never asked for special treatment.

“He still was on the rules committee in this country and also he would steward at events," Mr Lane says. "He would come along and he would time keep an obstacle element – he was like one of the lads really."

Mr Lane added: "There was a big social side when you go away to these competitions and he would stand and have a beer with anybody, with his fellow competitors especially if they were away competing representing the country. He would like to be one of the lads really and treated as such."

The duke found that in this sport, just like in royal life, you were judged every time you put a step wrong.

On one occasion in Windsor he lost control of the ponies and his patience.

Credit: Crystal TV

He was thrown from the carriage along with his grooms. He wasn’t injured but the royal carriages weren’t always as lucky.

“All the carriages were antiques. And we had a thing called the Balmoral Dog Cart – it had to be rebuilt every year because it got smashed up regularly," said Mr Lane.

Mishaps aside, Prince Philip won medals for Great Britain at the World and European championships. The sport will always be grateful to the man who helped shape it.