The United Kingdom today mourns the loss of their beloved Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He was 99 years old, two months before he would have turned 100 years old. He was married to the queen for 74 years.
Throughout their marriage, he was a tower of strength for her through personal tragedy and triumph as husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
The Duke of Edinburgh was at the core a naval officer. As a child, he was evacuated from Greece along with the rest of the Greek royal family on a destroyer of the British navy. He came to Royal Naval College, Dartmouth as a teenager, and it was there that he first met the then 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth properly in 1939. They were married in 1947.
During World War II, he had served on warships with distinction, being mentioned in shipments for bravery. His naval career flourished after the war until he received his first command of the warship Magpie in 1950. His active naval career ended in 1952, when Elizabeth became queen at the death of her father, but his love and attachment to the navy continued throughout his life.
Philip was an avid sportsman. He received a yacht as a wedding gift because of his love of sailing. He went on to win a major trophy at the challenging Cowes Week. He played polo regularly and was also an avid cricketer.
The Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen visited Pakistan twice, first in 1961 and again in 1997 on Pakistan’s 50th anniversary. The first visit lasted for two weeks and the second just under a week, where they toured all over the country and met people of all backgrounds, especially students and young people. The prince, Duke of Edinburgh (in Scotland), was particularly fascinated by bagpipers, he saw during a performance by military bands during his visit to Pakistan in 1961 and immediately founded a bagpiping trophy for the Pakistani army. His relationship with Pakistan was strong and he remained patron, patron and patron of the UK-Pakistan Society for 63 years.
Prince Philip loved nature and was one of the earliest masters of nature conservation and conservation. He helped form the World Wildlife Fund, of which he remained president for 20 years. When his successor was to be selected, he personally chose a most prominent Pakistani businessman, education expert and nature conservationist Syed Babar Ali.
The Duke was a prominent supporter of many charities and welfare activities around the world. One that especially stands out is the Duke of Edinburgh Award Program. He created this in 1956. Today it is active in about one hundred and thirty countries. Muhammad Ali Rangoonwala brought it to Pakistan in 1987, and many young Pakistanis have taken advantage of it by attending events in a few dozen countries. This program is designed to “equip and empower young people from all walks of life to build the skills, confidence and resilience they need to get the most out of life”.
Prince Philip is leaving the world with this noble message to Pakistan and the youth of the world, a message he has been actively working to support for over 64 years.
Lord Sarfraz is a British-Pakistani member of the House of Lords