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The finest consort since Prince Albert: They both elevated young Queens to greatness.

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The finest consort since Prince Albert: They both elevated young Queens to greatness. But here, ROBERT HARDMAN reveals that’s just one of the uncanny parallels between two royal titans.Driving me around the Windsor estate a few years ago, the Duke of Edinburgh was in full flow as he pointed to one landmark after another.‘You can see Prince Consort’s Farm has remained, externally, the same as Prince Albert built it,’ he mused, before pointing in the opposite direction, adding: ‘Great place for crows, this.’On we drove, past the farms designed by ‘Farmer George’, King George III, past the Frogmore gardens designed by Queen Charlotte, past the mausoleum built by Queen Victoria — ‘the family burial plot’ as the Duke called it — and so much else.We were making a documentary about Windsor. But it soon dawned on me that so much of the landscape was actually down to the Duke himself: the tree plantations, a new deer herd and the Guards Polo Club, the international polo venue he built on the disused wartime airstrip at Smith’s Lawn.As well as being the longest-serving Ranger of Windsor Great Park in history, he is also the first member of the Royal Family to open a shop. ‘About 30 years ago I suggested that we should have a plucking and packing facility for game,’ he told me.‘Then this business of farm shops came along, so we converted the potting sheds into a farm shop.’Weaving his way past the gobsmacked queue at the shop’s meat counter, the Duke gave us a swift retail masterclass: ‘Stuff grown here that was not [financially] viable when it went to the open market is viable now that it’s got an outlet. By taking out the middleman, it becomes more efficient. You can get lots of customers but if you don’t price it right, you lose money . . .’It has often been said that if the Duke had not been married to the Queen, he would have risen to the top of the Royal Navy. But it might equally be argued that he would have had similar success as a businessman, engineer or headmaster.Here is a man with a sharp intellect, a quizzical mind and a love of innovation, be it installing some of the first solar panels in Britain, planting an experimental truffle farm in Norfolk, driving around in one of Britain’s first electric cars, installing one of the earliest desktop computers, taking his entire office to try Heston Blumenthal’s latest experimental menu or being the first royal television presenter.The list goes on and on. Because during a life just five years short of a century, there has seldom been a moment when the Duke has not been thinking about what to do next. That is why yesterday’s announcement was such big news.For it is no exaggeration to say that the results of this restless innovation have been global. In the early Sixties, for example, it was the Duke who played a central role in the creation of the World Wildlife Fund, paving the way for organisations such as Greenpeace and helping to kick-start an entire environmental movement.His Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, established more than 60 years ago in the teeth of opposition from a very sniffy Establishment — who thought it would undermine the Boy Scouts — has been adopted all over the world. Even in countries with no British connection, millions of young people have been the beneficiaries of his scheme for boosting youthful self-esteem.Source:


finest consort Prince Albert both young Queens ROBERT HARDMAN uncanny parallels royal titans Windsor Duke of Edinburgh one landmark
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