Monday 12 April 2021 / 2:54 PM Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer delivers statement in parliament on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, delivering a statement in the House of Commons on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, said:

In supporting the Humble Address, I would like to echo the remarks made by the Prime Minister.

And, on behalf of my party, to come together today in appreciation of a life well-lived.

A life of service and of duty.

A life that shaped modern Britain and provided much-needed stability to our national story.

My thoughts, first and foremost, are with Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.

Prince Philip was a man of many titles: Duke of Edinburgh. Lord High Admiral. A Royal Commander. Baron of Greenwich.

But above all he was a much-loved father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

To Her Majesty the Queen he was not only her “beloved husband”, but – in her words – her “strength and stay” for seven decades.

So it’s right that today this House – and the country – comes together to pay tribute not just to a man, but to the virtues he personified

To his ceaseless optimism about the country Britain can be, and what the British people can achieve.

The life of Prince Philip was extraordinary, lived in a century on fast-forward.

A time that saw world war, a cold war, the fall of Empire, twenty Prime Ministers, the invention of the television, the internet, Artificial Intelligence and technology so extraordinary it might have seemed to a lesser person as if from another world.

Throughout that time, the monarchy has been the one institution for which the faith of the British people has never faltered.

And as we’ve seen once again in recent days, the Royal family has a connection with the British people that runs as deep today as it did when Philip Mountbatten married the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947.

That is not by chance.

It reflects the quiet virtues, discipline and sacrifices we commemorate today.

My own connection to the Duke of Edinburgh came long before I entered this place.

Like millions of other children, aged 14, I started the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme – or D of E.

My first activity was to volunteer at a local mental health hospital, where, unbeknown to me at the time, my late granddad would later be admitted.

And my final activity was wandering around Dartmoor in a small team, with just a compass and a map in the pouring rain, frantically trying to find our way.

Mr Speaker: If that doesn’t prepare you for coming into politics, nothing will.

In recent days, I’ve been struck by the countless stories of lives turned around by the D of E awards.

Young people who found their confidence, and found their way.

This was summed up by a 14-year girl old girl, who said, on passing her Bronze Award, that she felt: “I can do anything now”.

The D of E now covers 130 countries and has helped millions of people around the world.

It is perhaps the best symbol of the Duke’s global legacy.

He was also patron of more than 800 charities and organisations.

He was the first President of the World Wildlife Fund.

He was Patron of the British Heart Foundation.

He was President of BAFTA.

And he was Chancellor of the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Salford and Wales.

He carried out more than 22,000 solo engagements and countless others alongside Her Majesty the Queen.

The Duke will also be remembered for his unstinting support of our Armed Forces.

It was in Dartmouth, in 1940, that he graduated as a naval cadet and, as the Prime Minister has described, went on to a distinguished naval career.

Today, Mr Speaker, the British Armed Forces mourn one of their greatest champions.

The Duke was a funny, engaging, warm and loving man.

He loved to paint. His work has been described, characteristically, as “totally direct, no hanging about. Strong colours, vigorous brushstrokes”.

He was also a great lover of political cartoons – Not something the Prime Minister or I can say that often.

Although I saw a cartoon this weekend that captured this moment of national and personal loss perfectly: It depicted Her Majesty, dressed in black, looking back at her shadow and seeing the Duke, standing there – as ever at her side, attentive and holding her hand.

Mr Speaker, Britain will not be the same in his absence.

For most of us, there’s never been a time where the Duke of Edinburgh was not present.

At every stage of our national story for the last seven decades, he has been there.

A symbol of the nation we hope to be at our best. A source of stability. A rock.

Her Majesty once said that “grief is the price we pay for love”. The Duke loved this country. And Britain loved him in return. That’s why we grieve today.

But as we remember him, we must also celebrate him.

A life lived in strong and vigorous brushstrokes.

And we offer up this tribute:

To the Duke Edinburgh

For a lifetime of public service – The Gold Award.