Prince Philip and The Guinea Pig Club: a legacy

Watch: report by ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Wilkins:

Tomorrow The Duke of Edinburgh will be laid to rest at St George's Chapel within the grounds of Windsor Castle. All this week we have been looking back his life and his legacy.

Prince Philip was involved with hundreds of charities, one of them being The Guinea Pig Club based in Sussex. The organisation was set up to help young men who suffered dreadful injuries while serving with the RAF during the Second World War. 

They were treated by pioneering plastic surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. But following Sir Archibald's death in 1960, The Duke of Edinburgh took over as president of the club, and to the those men he was known as 'one of the boys'. 


Sir Archibald McIndoe rebuilt the faces and lives of 600 injured pilots and air crew during the second world war.

The Guinea Pig Club was set up to help young men who suffered dreadful injuries while serving with the RAF during the Second World War.  Credit: Pathe

They kept together like a big family.

Bob Marchant, Guinea Pig Club secretary

  • Bob Marchant, Guinea Pig Club secretary

The Duke of Edinburgh was considered part of the family. When Sir Archibald McIndoe died in 1960, His Royal Highness took over as president of the guinea pig club.

The club's Chairman Sam Gallop, described his as caring, considerate and thoughtful.

The Duke often came to East Grinstead for the Guinea Pig's annual meet-up. It was known as 'the town that did not stare.'

His after dinner speeches were witty and focussed, and gave the men a laugh and a lift.  He was considered one of the boys.


There were no sort of airs and graces. All ex-servicemen together if you like.

Bob Marchant, Guinea Pig Club secretary

His Royal Highness attended the opening of the new burns unit at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead.

Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, 23rd February 1995 Credit: Pathe

One of his last public engagements was to unveil the Guinea Pig memorial statue at the National Memorial Arboretum back in 2016. 

The Guinea Pig Club has been described as stoic and resilient in the face of great danger and adversity. Qualities The Duke admired and shared. 


He was ex-navy and we were all ex-air force. He was a serviceman so they all respected him. They were pretty proud to have them as president all the time.

Bob Marchant, Guinea Pig Club secretary
Guinea Pig memorial statue at the National Memorial Arboretum, 2016 Credit: Pathe