Prince Philip memorial given green-light ‘as a mark of respect’ to duke

Tom Jones praises Prince Philip's 'honesty' over comments

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Local leaders in Northern Ireland have approved a plan for a permanent memorial to the Duke of Edinburgh “as a mark of respect and remembrance”. In what is set to be the first concrete plan for a memorial to the late royal since his passing, it will be placed in Antrim Castle Gardens in County Antrim.

The site used to be home to a historic three-story Georgian-Gothic castellated mansion, designed by Dublin architect, John Bowden.

The gardens at the castle were designed by the famed French landscape architect Le Notre.

The idea was brought forward in a motion by Cllr Leah Smyth a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) on DUP dominated Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

Her motion, agreed by councillors at a meeting, said: “This Council wishes to pass on our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on the passing of HRH Duke of Edinburgh.

“Our nation mourns with her.

“In recognition of his lifelong dedication to his royal duties and commitments, as well as his service in the Navy during WW2, this Council wishes to place a permanent memorial to Prince Philip in our Borough as a mark of respect and Remembrance.”

The proposal was approved unanimously by cross-party councillors from the DUP and Sinn Fein and seconded by Cllr Robert Foster who said Prince Philip’s “strength of character has been an inspiration to many”.

The council will now form a working group to develop design ideas.

Politicians from across the Stormont Assembly shared memories of their experiences with the Duke of Edinburgh.

Edwin Poots, Stormont’s Agriculture Minister, who is tipped to be a contender to replace Arlene Foster as DUP leader, said: “The duke was known for his sharp mind, for his wittiness, and sometimes that got him into trouble so his quips could become gaffes.

“As someone who does that occasionally myself, I can appreciate the quandary that he finds himself in, you want to engage with people and you want to lighten an atmosphere and sometimes it just doesn’t work right.”

UUP MLA and former broadcaster Mike Nesbitt recalled a person making a speech at a gold Duke of Edinburgh award presentation at St James’ Palace “making the school boy error of trotting out a pre-rehearsed speech eulogising the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of Edinburgh awards”.

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He added: “That was the last thing that Prince Philip wanted to hear, so he suddenly started pointing at the man’s lapel and saying, ‘in that case where is it then … your Duke of Edinburgh badge’, the poor fella hadn’t even done the bronze award, so that was him blown out of the water.”

The Duke of Edinburgh most recently visited Northern Ireland in May 2017 when he met 115 young people who completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

He also witnessed the historic handshake between the Queen and former IRA commander and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in 2011.

Cross-party MPs at Westminster also support the concept of a fixed statue in England but Downing Street said it was “too early to consider” proposals.

Earlier this month Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer confirmed they were on board with the concept, alongside the SNP who are fighting to retain control of Holyrood.

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