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Rotary pays tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh

Rotary pays tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh

The death of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on Friday, aged 99, has led to tributes from around the world – to a man who was a true friend of Rotary.

Prince Philip was an honorary Rotarian of the London, Edinburgh and King’s Lynn Rotary clubs – the latter for when the Duke was staying at Sandringham in Norfolk.

He was elected as an honorary member of the Edinburgh club in 1952, to coincide with their Jubilee year – the Scottish club was founded in 1912.

In a statement published following his death, Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland said: “The thoughts of everyone at Rotary GB&I are with Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family following the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“He will be remembered for a life dedicated to public service.

His Royal Highness’ connection to Rotary dates back to 1952, when he became an honorary member of Edinburgh Rotary Club.

“Rotary has also been a long supporter of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, created by His Royal Highness to give young people the opportunity to learn, grow and engage in voluntary action.”

Prince Phillip also had close connections with the Rotary Club of Windsor and Eton, where he was an honorary member. The club meets at the Castle Hotel in the Berkshire town, in the shadow of Windsor Castle.

Marius Hopley, District Governor for 1090, said: “Many will be unaware that the Duke was a member of Rotary, and in particular, was a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor and Eton in this district.

His Royal Highness’ connection to Rotary dates back to 1952, when he became an honorary member of Edinburgh Rotary Club.”

“Until about five years ago, the Duke would attend meetings in ‘his’ club and refused to be treated differently to other Rotarians, including sitting at the President’s table.

“I was fortunate to meet Prince Philip when I was invited to the Rotary Club of London, where he was a guest speaker on the topic of conservation.

“He was witty, charming and reminded us all that he was a member, so he was effectively just a visiting Rotarian who happened to be the speaker.

“I am sure that I can express our sadness as a district at the loss of one of our members and, for those who like me hold Her Majesty The Queen in the highest regard, would add that our gratitude for his service to our country and support of Her Majesty will long be remembered.”

In 1984, the Duke of Edinburgh wrote a foreword to David Shelley Nicholl’s book “The Golden Wheel”.

Until about five years ago, the Duke would attend meetings in ‘his’ club and refused to be treated differently to other Rotarians, including sitting at the President’s table.”

He wrote: “The sheer size of Rotary International in 1984 is impressive.

“Almost one million members in 158 countries are awesome statistics, but they really mean nothing at all unless the members are inspired by Rotary’s challenging philosophy, expressed by its splendidly simple motto ‘Service Above Self’.

“The motto would be irrelevant if there was no selfishness in the world, but the temptation to cheat, to exploit and to dominate for the sake of personal wealth and power has always been a feature of human existence and the chances are that it always will be.

“The significance of Rotary is that it has become one of the most active and effective forces on the lay side of righteousness, co-operation and goodwill.

“It provides, therefore, a most powerful encouragement of the potential for good that is in all men and, by doing so, it also acts as a severe restraint on what is evil and corrupt.

“It is no coincidence that Rotary flourishes in the free and open societies of this world, while it is ruthlessly supressed under ideological dictatorships.

“This book may not be the only history of Rotary to be written, but it is probably the first to trace the course of events and to follow the development of an idea at the same time.

“What comes through is that while fashions and attitudes may vary between countries, and over periods of time, the central principal and philosophy of Rotary runs through the whole story as if it were the track of the Golden Wheel.”