Prince Philip, the pioneer of carriage driving

Among his many favourite past times, the Duke of Edinburgh was known for his love of carriage driving.

Away from royal duties, it was a chance for the Queen's Consort to relax and be himself. Not only did the Prince Philip compete for Great Britain, but he also raised the profile of the sport, inspiring others to take up the reigns.

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For decades, the Duke of Edinburgh was a familiar face at carriage driving events, where the teams' skill and tenacity are put to the test. It is a sport he helped pioneer and a close community he was very much a part of.

A community that includes members of the North Eastern Driving Trials Club.  Among those at this event at Witton Castle, in County Durham, are drivers who met him.Barry Hilditch, who served on the sport's governing body, says the Duke made an impression on everyone involved. He recalls a conversation with the Prince during an event at Alnwick Castle.

After giving up polo in the early 1970’s, Prince Philip developed his interest in carriage driving.

While competing in Southern Scotland in the late nineties, he explained how it came about.

I set up the committee that wrote the rules. I got interested in it when I was starting and went to the early championships and then I was just giving up polo at the time and I was looking for something else to do and I realised we had horses in the stables, so I borrowed some of those, taught myself to drive and started competing.

The Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke joked he had reservations about becoming a judge when he retired. Saying he didn’t want to be in a position where the competitors say “we have got the bloody old fool in charge."

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The Duke's profile also helped the sport achieve international recognition and competitors were invited to Sandringham and Windsor Park.

Among them, three generations of the Brown family from Northumberland. Ray spent years as a national judge. On one occasion, his late wife, Rosa, acted as the Duke's referee.

It's a passion now shared by the Duke's grand-daughter, Lady Louise but his dedication is something fellow drivers will never forget.

And for those reasons, he'll be remembered by this sporting community with great affection. 

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