Last April saw the sad loss of our patron, Prince Philip. At the time we decided to dedicate a few pages of Tabler to him and his incredible achievements. In case you missed them – here they are for you to read at your leisure.
Prince Philip was perhaps the last bastion of the British stiff upper-lip. He stood for duty, tradition, honour, stoicism and hard work: virtues still alive at Table – and immortalised throughout this issue no less.
Given the Prince’s famous contribution to youth movements, notably the Duke of Edinburgh Award – which bares his namesake – it’s not hard to see why he chose to become a patron of Round Table way back in 1958, six years after Elizabeth II had taken the throne.
Prince Philip, Patron of the National Association of Round Tables Great Britain and Ireland, had an exhaustive record of service to this country, completing 22,219 solo engagements, including meeting many members of Round Table throughout our 90-year history. Most notably, HRH attended both the 40th and 80th anniversary of the Association in 1967 and 2007.
The Prince’s arrival at Round Table’s 40th Anniversary in 1967 Surely ranks among our organisation’s most prestigious moments. And, listening back to an archived recording from the night, the sense of excitement at the Prince’s presence is palpable. The Table luminaries that speak on the night draw attention to the synergies between HRH’s vision and the Round Table organisation to rapturous applause and merriment.
This all-important mirth reaches a peak when the man himself takes to the podium to address the rowdy Tablers in his inimitable style: “I realise now you do make a lot of noise, but I never thought it would reach all the way from here to Windsor,” he quips.
HRH then went on to draw allusions to the rowdy Table audience, their plethora of Round Table medals and his own experiences of rowdy military brass: “When I was introduced to all these grand gentlemen up here I thought I’d come to an ex-serviceman’s event... I felt a little naked. I thought, I can compete in uniform, but not so well in plain clothes.”
A Prince Philip speech was always deserving of its hype. But while he would please the crowd’s with his off-the-cuff witticisms, his pre-crafted messages of support were always equally memorable, and at Table’s 40th Anniversary, HRH did not disappoint:
“We’re here to celebrate 40 years,” he began. “Which seems almost as remote as pre-history. Indeed, anything before the last war seems to have achieved a sort of dream like quality which the extremes of wealth and poverty of that time make all the more fantastic.
“I think it’s slightly surprising and encouraging that Round Table should be founded with the motto ‘adopt, adapt and improve’ and I can’t help but think, if that had been adopted nationally, maybe we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today.”
It was clear that Philip understood what it means to be a Tabler, and anecdotes from across our organisation attest to this. Marcus Jones, National Past President 2015/16, remembers his encounter with HRH at an event during which Philip, after being introduced to a fitness instructor, turned to him:
“He had just been introduced to a famous PTI instructor and shouted “she’s a physical trainer I reckon she can help you lose some weight!”. The line burst out laughing and with a wry smile and a wink, he moved on and his staff moved past. I realised at that very moment that he understood what a Tabler meant, the humour we possess, along with the determination to improve the communities we live in.
“Have no doubt HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh was a Tabler at heart. He loved the association and what it stood for, most of all he understood its worth in society during difficult times. Like the time we are in today after 18 months of Covid19, the impact will be felt for years to come.
“He understood that the young men of this country could adopt, adapt and improve society with their energy and drive, that these young men can engage and encourage all generations of society to move forward, that the grass roots approach was the way forward.
He truly understood Round Table could mean different things to different people, and that makes our organisation very unique and relevant.”
Ted Whitaker, Chatham Round Table 1964 – 1987 (Past President), also reminisced about the Duke of Edinburgh’s time with Round Table: “I attended the 80th Anniversary at The National Motorcycle Museum at Solihull in 2007 and, as the Duke of Edinburgh entered the dining hall and walked past the other side of my table, he was fined for his poor attendance as he last joined us for the 40th Anniversary! After he left there was the obligatory ‘Dam Busters’ theme rendition with outspread arms!”
Round Table maintained strong ties with the Prince throughout his service, and, upon his retirement from formal duty, thanked the Prince ‘for his service to the military and to our great nation’. Notably however, his commitment to Table remained until his last breath.
Indeed, earlier that year, Prince Philip had spoken fondly of Round Table: “The motto ‘Adopt, Adapt, Improve’ is as valid today as it was when Round Table was founded, and it is very encouraging to know that it continues to attract enthusiastic and dedicated members.”
Long live the memory of Prince Philip, and we look forward to hearing more anecdotes about your times with HRH.