Buckingham Palace has announced the passing of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, aged 99.
Within this remarkable life, His Royal Highness was also a Fishmonger. The Duke was proposed for admission as a Freeman of the Company in 1947 by Major General Sir Harold Wernher GCVO, who also sponsored his nomination for election to the Court in 1950. Contemporary records note that the Prime Warden immediately suspended Standing Order No. 18 (of the 1921 edition), relieving HRH of any obligation to inform the Company should it be the case that he ever became a bankrupt.
Perhaps one of The Duke’s greatest legacies to the Company was his role in suggesting to Her Majesty that a portrait should be commissioned to celebrate the recent Coronation and completion of the restoration works to the Hall. What emerged in 1954 is the now globally acclaimed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II painted by Italian artist Pietro Annigoni.
Serving as Prime Warden in 1961-62, The Duke’s year in office brought a renewed focus on the Company’s longstanding contributions toward the relief of poverty and included visits to the Company’s almshouses. Additionally, as a Prime Warden who happened to be an Admiral of the Fleet, HRH formalised the Company’s relationship with the London Division of the Royal Naval Reserve, which endures to this day.
So far as records can tell, this longevity as a Livery Company Court Member has never been matched. The Duke’s enduring affinity towards the Fishmongers was perhaps reflected in his request to use the Hall for a 90th birthday celebration in 2011, attended by Her Majesty The Queen.