Friday, 09 April 2021
On behalf of the equestrian community, British Equestrian would like to offer our sincere condolences to HM The Queen and the royal family following the sad news of the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
His association with the equine industry was a long and passionate one, and he was the epitome of the all-round horseman, both in and out of the saddle. He was an equestrian pioneer, guardian of the countryside and the environment, and an inspiration to so many lives.
From childhood memories of riding on the beaches of the Black Sea to representing his country successfully in two disciplines – polo and carriage driving – Prince Phillip’s life was inextricably linked to the horse.
His love of polo came about from his time in the Navy and through the 1950s he dedicated more time to the sport, going on to be one of the best players of his generation before retiring in 1970. It was then that his focus turn to carriage driving, but at the time it was considered by much of the equestrian world as a hobby activity rather than sport. Prince Philip set about changing that and worked with a group of like-minded individuals to successfully develop it as an FEI competitive discipline.
He excelled in the sport, representing Great Britain in six World and three European Championships, collecting four team medals, and was a regular competitor at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. He would regularly compete a team of four Fell ponies, bred by HM The Queen, and many iconic images of them in action graced the press. He retired from competition aged 86 but was still seen regularly driving in the grounds of Windsor Castle up to 2019.
Prince Philip had remarkable impact on the equine world away from the competitive arena. He was FEI President for a staggering 22 years between 1964–1986, during which time the equestrian disciplines underwent enormous change, transitioning from a largely military pastime to modern, inclusive sports. He shared a love of racing with HM The Queen and was a staunch supporter of both Princess Anne and Zara Tindall in their eventing careers. In 2008, he was presented with the British Horse Society Queen’s Award for his outstanding service to equestrianism.
Throughout his tenure as royal consort, he was passionate about inspiring others, particularly young people. His Duke of Edinburgh Award has impacted thousands of young lives by teaching important life skills in a fun environment where participants can make friends and discover new talents. He had significant involvement with The Pony Club and gave his name to the highest accolade in the mounted games calendar – the Prince Philip Cup, which he instigated in 1957 and is presented at Horse of the Year Show. He was a loyal supporter of the Riding for the Disabled Association, helping to bring carriage driving to their roster of activities.
Prince Philip dedicated his life to serving the country and his loss will be felt by a huge number. Many in the equestrian world owe him a debt of gratitude for his unstinting support and his vision to progress, and our community will deeply feel his loss.
British Equestrian Chairman Malcom Wharton commented; “I know I speak on behalf of British Equestrian and everyone connected with the equestrian world in offering our condolences to HM The Queen and her family. Prince Philip was a remarkable servant to this country, a loyal consort and generously gave his time to support so many. His love and passion for the horse was clear and his skill as a horseman was more than matched by his drive to support others. We owe him a great debt for the selfless dedication and support he gave to equestrianism and the legacy he now leaves within the equestrian world.”
Thumbnail and cover photo: Peter Nixon Photography