Royal Natal Yacht Club sends condolences to royal family
Durban - Today the funeral service for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband to Queen Elizabeth for 73 years, was being held at St George’s Chapel, in a family service that was closed to the public.
Buckingham Palace this week announced the prince would be laid to rest with all the honours due to a prince of the United Kingdom and consort to Queen Elizabeth II.
Prince Philip, aged 99, died last week at Windsor Castle. He had been in hospital in March because of an infection and a pre-existing condition.
During his long years of service which involved trips to all corners of the globe, Prince Philip was known for his quick wit along with some controversial gaffes, as well as his unwavering support of the queen.
This week, Durban’s Royal Natal Yacht Club sent a letter of condolence to the royal family, signed by Commodore Leo Kroone.
Prince Philip was a former Commodore and Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron and visited the Royal Natal Yacht Club in Durban during World War II while he was serving aboard the HMS Valiant.
Having spent many of his younger years in the Royal Navy, the prince was well-known for his love of the sea. During the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily, the prince, who was 22 years old at the time and second-in-command of the destroyer HMS Wallace, was hailed as a hero after foiling a Luftwaffe bomber which looked certain to destroy their vessel.
Yeoman Harry Hargreaves who was on board the HMS Wallace and interviewed in 2003, revealed the prince and the ship’s captain had a “hurried conversation” because they only had 20 minutes before the next bombing run took place. They devised a plan to throw a burning raft overboard to create an illusion of debris on fire on the water as a decoy for the Luftwaffe bombers. The plan worked, with Hargreaves saying: "The prince saved our lives that night, he was always very courageous and resourceful and thought very quickly."
Prince Philip also visited Durban with the queen in March 1995 in what was hailed as a highly successful trip. The royal couple spent time in Cape Town where they met with Nelson Mandela and stayed on the royal yacht Britannia which sailed into Durban.
In the RNYC book Salt On The Sails, RNYC commodore at that time, Willy Vandeverre, described his evening aboard the royal yacht.
“Queen Elizabeth was bloody terrific. So charming. It was one of Britannia's last trips. Philip was standing by. You know he sails. She said, ’old yachts are a bit like old yachtsmen, the older they get, the more expensive they get’,” recalled Vandeverre.
Another anecdote in the book recalled a popular member, Rob Allen, an Australian who had claimed he had arrived in South Africa after having been sneaked out of the Syechelles in the anchor locker of a South African yacht. Described as a dedicated yachtie who “like any yachtsman worth his salt, enjoys spinning a yarn”, one of Allen’s famous reminiscences involved Prince Philip. Allen had been at Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight. Cowes Week is a world famous regatta which was started in 1820 by George IV under the flag of the Royal Yacht Club, which later became known as the Royal Yacht Squadron.
Allen had gone to the club for the official dinner and visiting the gent’s toilet, had mistakenly “wet” the trousers of the gentleman next to him who turned out, to his horror, to be the British prime minister. At the end of the evening, as the prince shook hands with the guests, Allen said, he “shook his hand particularly firmly and said, ’There are plenty of people in this country who would have liked to have done what you did’.” It is believed that it was a Labour prime minister.
During the couple’s state visit to Durban in 1995, they also dropped in at Greyville Racecourse with the queen’s outfit by Sir Hardy Amies being described as stylish.
The couple visited Durban again in November 1999 for the 16th Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. The queen hosted a cocktail party for 800 guests at the city hall.
During that week, IOL reported: “After posing for official photographs in a private room in the building, the queen – dressed in a pale pink and white dress, complemented by patent leather court shoes and matching bag – greeted delegates and other guests, including KZN Premier Lionel Mtshali, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Zuma and her deputy Aziz Pahad.
“Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, walked in the opposite direction, welcoming guests.
“Chicken livers, vegetable roulade, smoked salmon and trout were served on silver trays. Drinks included red and white wine and the obligatory gin and tonic.
“Security was tight around the city hall – so much so that the management of the Royal Hotel called Metro Fire to report a possible fire in a block of flats in adjacent Gardiner Street. After at least four tenders arrived on the scene, the ’fire’ turned out to be residents enjoying a braai on the roof.
“Earlier in the day the Duke, with Deputy President Jacob Zuma, was flown by helicopter to a Spioenkop summit to lay wreaths in honour of British and Boer soldiers killed in the Spioenkop Battle of 1900.
“The event was sombre and run with military precision. Security was tight, with policemen behind every rock outcrop and nobody was allowed up the summit without full security clearance. Even guests, seated under a tarpaulin tent, were unable to move out of their designated area during the 45-minute ceremony.”
The Independent on Saturday