THE Duke of Edinburgh’s first ever official solo engagement was a trip to a boxing match at the Royal Albert Hall in 1948.
As Prince Philip retires at the age of 96, he has carried out 22,219 solo engagements since the Queen acceded to the throne in 1952, plus many more following his wedding in 1947.
Buckingham Palace said that, as far as they are aware, the Duke’s first solo public engagement was on March 2, 1948, when he went to the London Federation of Boys’ Clubs Boxing Finals at the Royal Albert Hall.
The Court Circular, published in The Times the next day, recorded that the Duke, then 26, presented prizes following the championship and that he was patron of the Federation.
The entry appeared between a notice that Queen Mary had visited a gallery to view a painting and another that declared that the Earl of Bessborough had appendicitis but had undergone a successful operation.
Philip’s final official royal engagement at Buckingham Palace was with the Royal Marines today. His first engagement with the Marines was a dinner in the Officers’ Mess at Eastney Barracks on July 15, 1953.
Philip, who was 32, wore smart Royal Marines mess dress. The Times recorded how he ‘motored from Odiham to Eastney Barracks’, and watched the massed bands of the Portsmouth Command beat retreat on the cricket field.
The Duke had been appointed Captain General of the corps and the newspaper said: ‘For the occasion, officers and men of the corps had come from all Royal Marine units in the United Kingdom and ships of the Home Fleet.’
The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and Philip’s first joint engagement, post marriage, is believed to have taken place on December 16, 1947, when they gave an ‘Afternoon Party’ at the Palace.
The Times reported how 300 representative from towns, countries, institutions and societies who had given them wedding presents were invited to tea.
Princess Elizabeth wore ‘an afternoon gown in a pale shade of blue’, while Philip dressed in naval uniform. Guests were greeted in the music room, and mingled in the blue drawing room and the state dining room where there was a ‘buffet tea’.
It was recorded that the royal couple spoke to ‘Miss Grace Naylor, a blind representative from the National Institute for the Blind, and an officer and a rating from HMS Vanguard’.
After the party, the guests ‘were admitted to see the Royal Wedding presents at St James’s Palace’.