Remembering the Duke of Edinburgh
A life well-lived
by Becky May
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To celebrate the life of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Remembering the Duke of Edinburgh) and the means to display them.
- Welcome the children to the assembly and explain that today, we are going to remember someone very important in the life of our country.
Ask the children whether they know who that person might be.
- Show Slide 1.
Explain that His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s husband, died on Friday 9 April, aged 99.
Give the children the opportunity to share some of the things that they may know about him.
Explain that this morning, we are going to take some time to remember the Duke of Edinburgh. We are going to think about who he was and some of the things that he did.
- Show Slide 2.
Philip was born in Greece, a prince in the Greek and Danish royal families. However, when Philip was only eighteen months old, his family were exiled, so they had to leave their home in Greece and move abroad.
- Show Slide 3.
When Philip was 12, he was sent to Gordonstoun, a very strict boarding school in Scotland.
- Show Slide 4.
When Philip left school at 18, he joined the Royal Navy. He also met Princess Elizabeth for the first time, when he gave her and her family a tour of his naval college. She was only 13 years old at the time, but they began to exchange letters. Philip served in the navy throughout the Second World War and was recognized as an excellent sailor and commander.
- Show Slide 5.
In 1947, Philip married Princess Elizabeth. Five years later, while they were touring the Commonwealth, Princess Elizabeth’s father, the King, died, so the couple came home and Princess Elizabeth became the Queen.
- Explain that Philip had to perform a special duty as the Queen’s husband. He was not the king, and his role was to support her.
Ask the children how they think it might feel to live their life in second place to someone else, to know that your duty is not to take the limelight, but to support the person who is centre-stage.
Sometimes, Philip had to walk two steps behind the Queen, demonstrating respect for her role. At times, this must have been an uncomfortable place to be, but the Duke of Edinburgh understood that this was his role.
- Show Slide 6.
Explain to the children that the Duke of Edinburgh found many ways to support the Queen and make a difference in the world. He got stuck into projects that he cared about, such as protecting the environment through the work of the World Wide Fund for Nature and creating the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme.
- Show Slide 7.
During his life, the Duke of Edinburgh completed over 22,000 royal engagements on his own. He last appeared in public with the Queen in July 2020, when a photo was released to mark his ninety-ninth birthday.
Time for reflection
Encourage the children to make themselves really quiet, perhaps holding a minute’s silence to remember the Duke of Edinburgh.
Remind the children that the Duke of Edinburgh led a life of service; he was not always seeking to be admired, congratulated or praised for what he did, but recognized that he had opportunities to serve in the place in which he found himself. Explain that this can be a challenge for each of us, to seek opportunities to serve and make a difference in the world, right where we are, rather than seeking public affirmation, praise or status.
Optional: there is a passage in the Bible that says, ‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for God and not for men.’ (Colossians 3.23)
Encourage the children to take a moment to think about what it means for us to serve and make a difference in the world, right where we are.
Thank you for the life of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Thank you for the way in which he served the Queen and our nation.
Please be close to all those who grieve for him at this time.
Help us to discover what it means for us to serve right where we are, looking not for status, but simply to make a difference in the world.
‘Help me be your eyes, Lord Jesus’ by Doug Horley, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N94BBGiq_vQ (2.56 minutes long)
‘City on a hill’ by Nick and Becky Drake, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg2We2iK7og (4.40 minutes long)
- Consider creating a display to remember and celebrate the life of the Duke of Edinburgh. Encourage the children to find out more about his life and share some of the tributes that have been written to remember him.
- Encourage the children to look for opportunities to serve in the local area, perhaps as a class or school project. They might even consider sending a letter of condolence to the royal family.