By Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
I used to wear a badge on my lapel—it was a little blue man. The Duke of Edinburgh, pictured right, spotted it at a reception. He bounced up, demanding to know what it was. “To show support for the prostate cancer campaign,” I said. He looked at me closely and said, “Have you got it or are you against it?” Then he bounced off again. The engagement was only 30 seconds long, but it has stayed with me, and it has been retold numerous times over the years.
It seemed that the Duke of Edinburgh left lasting impressions on many others, too. Some were less repeatable than others, but so many were fun and memorable. Sometimes he offended, but I do not share the view of some that he was an offensive man. For many, he has been part of a family that has provided comfort and stability in what can be a turbulent and intimidating world.
His decades of public service through his 99 years with us; his steadfast presence when so much has been changing; his support for the Queen, his wife, for whom he was her “strength and stay”; his loyal service to family and country; his weight behind charities, especially environmental ones—all of those things have good sides, and we should cherish good sides.
HM the Queen meets the nurses at the opening of Vale of Leven Hospital.
My two boys have been active in the Duke of Edinburgh’s award programme. Ali worked through all the levels to secure the gold award, learning kayaking, volunteering, film making—all sorts of different things. Stephen is still working through it, with expeditions and cooking—to our great benefit—and mountain biking, too.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s impact on my family has been great. His impact on millions of others has been utterly outstanding: learning new skills, meeting new people, showing leadership, building teams, maturing and growing. Every year, hundreds of thousands of young people in countries across the globe participate in the programme.
Last year, in Scotland alone, 20,000 started the programme and 11,000 achieved awards. The reach is astonishing. The programme was the Duke of Edinburgh’s inspiration all those years ago, and it has blossomed under his leadership, changing lives for ever. That is a lasting legacy to be proud of.
To the Queen and her family, I say that all our thoughts are with you today. For everything, Prince Philip, we all say, “Thank you.”
West Dunbartonshire Council employees enjoyed a day out to see the Royals at a garden party in the grounds of Holyroodhouse.