It is with great sadness that the GWCT heard today of the death of our Patron, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
HRH was our Patron since 1973, having previously been President for eight years, so his involvement spanned 57 years. His wildlife conservation credentials have rightly been lauded at a global scale. At home, the Sandringham Estate, he masterminded a now classic, and impressive, combination of wildlife conservation and wild game management alongside commercial farming. He made extensive use of the GWCT’s research and advice in doing that, and many years ago initiated a broad annual ecological monitoring programme to understand thoroughly the benefits of that management. He was a very knowledgeable naturalist with a deep love of the wider countryside and all country sports – regularly making contact with our upland researchers when at Balmoral.
He visited our research and demonstration farm, the Allerton Project in Leicestershire, twice; and our Scottish research and demonstration farm, Auchnerran on Deeside, only four and a half years ago. On all those occasions he seemed entirely happy to keep asking knowledgeable and probing questions considerably beyond the time allotted on his schedule.
He supported the GWCT personally and for many years hosted an annual gathering of GWCT members and supporters at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace.
In 1972 he wrote in our annual Review: “This bird [the grey partridge] is more than just our favourite native game-species. It represents a typical wild bird that suffers from all the pressures of intensive agriculture, urbanisation, pollution, over-population and a host of other ugly-sounding words and phrases. If we can solve the problem for the partridges, we shall be conferring enormous benefits on many other like species which are also in trouble.”
Those words have proved to be as long-lived as he was, and I hope will inspire all our members and supporters to keep ‘solving the problem for partridges’.
The Trust, its staff and trustees will miss his contribution enormously, and send our deepest condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and all the Royal Family.
Many of our staff had the privilege of meeting him. In 1972 he said: “I would like to pay a very sincere tribute to the quite remarkable loyalty and devotion of the staff of the Game Conservancy. I wish them and all the members success and good luck in the future.”
I am sure he would say the same now.
Teresa Dent CBE
P.S. Several members have kindly been in touch to say they'd like to make a donation in memory of HRH. Any support is greatly apprecated and donations can be made below.