Prince Philip’s no-frills office, preserved as he left it, is a study in practicality

·5 min read
The Duke’s desk is a practical affair with a few touching items carrying memories of his marriage
The Duke’s desk is a practical affair with a few touching items carrying memories of his marriage

It was the centre of his working life for decades. The Duke of Edinburgh’s study can now be seen just as he left it, complete with ship-shape desk and touching mementoes from his marriage.

The Duke’s Buckingham Palace study, described as a “very practical room without frills”, has been filmed for the BBC as part of a tribute to the Queen's husband, with insights from those who knew him best.

Despite his love of keeping up with the latest inventions, his grandchildren said, he could often be heard shouting from his study about his new laptop or that most infuriating of office hardware: his printer.

The study will be seen on television on Wednesday night, along with the Duke’s library and private secretary’s office, giving an insight into his unique life as the longest-serving consort in history.

Described as “rather like the bridge of a ship” for its strict order, the Duke’s desk is seen to be a practical affair with a few touching items carrying memories of his marriage.

One Faberge double frame holds photographs of George VI and the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, presented as a gift by the Queen’s parents on their 1947 wedding day.

On the window sill is a bronze statue of the Queen on horseback at Trooping the Colour, by sculptor Doris Lexey Margaret Lindner, acquired by the Duke.

In the private secretary’s office, known as the Pine Room, a painting by Alexander Talbot Rice shows the Duke in a carriage driving marathon, while a model of his Dragon Class racing yacht Bluebottle, given as a wedding gift, stands on the book shelf.

As well as interviews with the Duke’s family, who share their memories of growing up in the Royal Family, the BBC programme includes insight from Alexandra McCreery, his archivist, who points to all the office essentials kept “very close to hand”.

“It’s a very practical room. He didn’t have the frills. It was just a very efficient way of working,” she said. “He just cracked on.”

Alexandra McCreery, the late Duke’s archivist, tidies up the desk - Oxford Films
Alexandra McCreery, the late Duke’s archivist, tidies up the desk - Oxford Films

Peter Phillips, the Duke’s eldest grandson, said: “I just have memories of him getting a new laptop or a new printer, sitting in his office and hearing him shouting at it. Couldn’t get it to print or he couldn’t get this… I mean he loved technology, he loved gadgets, but it was always quite entertaining to see him trying to figure them all out.”

Zara Tindall said “we’d always try and find him new gadgets for presents”, with her grandfather often examining them before exclaiming “Well, that’s just bloody stupid.”

Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall reflect on their fondest and funniest moments with their grandfather, particularly his printer troubles - Oxford Films
Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall reflect on their fondest and funniest moments with their grandfather, particularly his printer troubles - Oxford Films
A flight log kept by the Duke of Edinburgh - Oxford Films
A flight log kept by the Duke of Edinburgh - Oxford Films

The Duke of York, in one of several short contributions to the programme, said: “His study was rather like the bridge of a ship because the bridge of a ship is very well organised in such a way that everything is within reach.”

The scenes form part of an hour-long programme about the Duke, which sees 15 members of his family share stories of him as both the “epitome of the stiff upper lip” and doting family man.

Princess Eugenie, who managed to introduce her infant son August Philip Brooksbank to her namesake grandfather a few days before he died in April aged 99, revealed that he had painted a picture of her in turn painting a bunch of flowers as a surprise wedding gift, now her pride and joy.

The Duke of Cambridge recalled his grandfather’s favourite prank of asking a grandchild to hold a squeezable tube of mustard between their hands with the lid off.

“And then he’d squish your hands together to fire the mustard onto the ceiling,” said Prince William. “He used to get in a lot of trouble from my grandmother for covering most of the places we had lunch and things with mustard on the ceiling.”

The Princess Royal describes how he taught his four children to drive very early, on the family’s private estates, as well as setting up go-kart tracks, teaching swimming, sailing and reading bedtime stories.

The Duke's love of discovery and nature are shown in this collection of photos from his many voyages - Oxford Films
The Duke's love of discovery and nature are shown in this collection of photos from his many voyages - Oxford Films
...even down to him seeing penguins - Oxford Films
...even down to him seeing penguins - Oxford Films

“The one thing my father did ... he was marvellous at arranging silly games,” said the Prince of Wales, who credits his father with inspiring his love of nature. “The fun of having young parents was there were lots of chasing around and mad things.”

“My grandfather loved things when they go wrong,” said the Duke of Cambridge.

“Both my grandparents love that because you can imagine, they’ve lived a life where everything has to go right the whole time and so when things go wrong, they both chuckle an awful lot. Everyone else gets mortally embarrassed, they love it.”

The Duke of Sussex added: “The two of them together were just the most adorable couple.”

The Duke gave up his naval career to instead support the Queen
The Duke gave up his naval career to instead support the Queen

“One of the things I do really admire him for is the fact that he gave up a very, very successful military career to be the Queen’s consort,” said Prince William.

“And to support her and to go into service and duty in a different way. You know, it was very much a man’s world back then. And so for a man to give up his career to support a woman, albeit the Queen, was still quite a big step.”

Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, will be aired on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC One