FIRST Minister Mark Drakeford has led tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh in the Welsh Parliament, saying he lived an “exceptional life” while sustaining decades of public service.
A specially recalled, remotely attended plenary session was told that Prince Philip had also held the title of Earl of Merioneth and championed “a broad diversity” of causes in Wales.
Following a minute’s silence at 11am today, Mr Drakeford told the Senedd: “A very long life in any circumstances, brings with it a set of remarkable events witnessed and experiences, enjoyed or endured.
“To have lived such a life at the centre of world events and in a way which made almost every experience of public, rather than simply private interest, makes it even more remarkable still, and that was the life of the Duke of Edinburgh.”
Mr Drakeford said the Royal Family were among many families who had lost a loved one during the coronavirus pandemic, and that whatever the circumstances “each loss is uniquely felt by those for whom that person will leave a gap in their lives which no one else can fill.
“Our thoughts today are with those members of the wider Royal Family who have to face that loss in the particularly distressing circumstances caused by the public health emergency,” he said.
The Welsh Labour leader said Philip was one of the very few people who had witnessed many changes to life in the UK while having to “absorb them all, while almost never out of the public eye”.
The Earl of Merioneth title was given to Philip on the day of his wedding to Queen Elizabeth in 1947, along with the titles Baron Greenwich and Duke of Edinburgh.
The duke’s relationship with Merioneth, a historic county in north Wales, meant it was “no surprise” he was a supporter of a number of associations and societies in the area, Mr Drakeford said, including its cricket club, sailing club and brass band.
He was later given his Welsh bardic title Philip Meirionnydd by the archdruid of Wales, Mr Edgar Phillips, after being initiated an Honorary Ovate (graduate) of the Gorsedd of Bards at the National Eisteddfod, at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff in August 1960.
Mr Drakeford added: “On behalf of the Welsh Government and those supporting the government in this parliament, which was another huge development during his lifetime, I extend our sincerest sympathies at the end of an exceptional life lived.”
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, said Philip had “offered so much to so many people” including through the Duke of Edinburgh Awards or the serving and former members of the Armed Forces.
“His own military service saw him play a key role in the struggles of World War Two, and he never forgot the men and women he served with and the countless thousands who followed,” Mr Davies said.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: “We are here not only to grieve but also to thank Prince Philip for his lifetime’s contribution.
“It’s not a title or status or crown that is Prince Philip’s most important legacy that we celebrate today but the support that he provided to others.”
The Duke of Edinburgh last visited the Senedd while accompanying the Queen to the opening of the fifth session of the-then National Assembly for Wales in 2016.
Campaigning for the May 6 Senedd election was postponed over the weekend following Philip’s death, but was set to resume for all parties following Monday’s recalled parliament plenary.