‘Happiest time of his life’ Attenborough recalls ‘extraordinary’ Prince Philip moment

Prince Philip: Attenborough on Duke's time in the Navy

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Presenter and conservationist Sir David Attenborough spoke to the BBC about his interactions with Prince Philip in his early years at naval college. Sir David revealed the Duke of Edinburgh’s time in the Navy was “hugely important” and remembered one night he brought future Queen Elizabeth – then a princess – to dine at the college. Sir David added it was an “extraordinary moment” with bands playing and fondly remembered the recently passed Prince during a touching tribute. 

Appearing on BBC’s The Man Behind the Crown, Sir David was asked about Prince Philip’s time in the Navy. 

He responded: “The Navy was hugely important and I would say that he regarded it as the happiest time in his life. 

“When he was a naval officer and his wife was a princess I was lucky enough to be at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

“Where in that painted hall, Prince Philip, brought the then Princess Elizabeth to dine on the last night.

“The navy bands played The Roast Beef of Old England with everyone in their best uniform marching up the aisles. 

“It was an extraordinary moment really.”

In the documentary, it was explained Prince Philip commanded the HMS Magpie in 1950 which was the only vessel he went on to manage. 

Prince Philip discussed it in a resurfaced interview and said: “I only had the ship for a year because the king was not very well and then of course he died. 

“So that was the end of that sort of naval career.”

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In another BBC interview, Sir David praised Prince Philip’s conservation work in the 1950s when environmentalism was not a well-known topic. 

He said: “What you have to remember in the early 1950s, it was not seen as a problem.

“The majority of people were quite unaware that we were heading for ecological disasters.

“He met all kinds and conditions of people in wildernesses all over the world.

“And really relished getting out there and tinkering with things.”

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Prince Philip died aged 99 on April 9 as the nation mourns his death. 

Arrangements for his funeral were announced over the weekend with the event being held at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. 

Coronavirus restrictions mean only 30 people can attend the funeral with Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejecting his invitation so more family could go.

Buckingham Palace also urged the public not to turn up citing coronavirus concerns as they have already had to remove tributes to the prince from the gates of the palace to discourage crowds.

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