Prince Philip: Sky News correspondent recalls royal fixing his tie after Duke of Edinburgh award speech at palace

·4-min read

Sky News' Inzamam Rashid remembers his embarrassment at having his tie adjusted by Prince Philip after he was asked to give a speech at a Duke of Edinburgh award event when he was just 20.

Our news correspondent writes:

When I set out on my mission to achieve bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh awards I never thought about going to a palace in London to receive my accolade from Prince Philip himself. When that day came it was special and a memory I'll treasure for a very long time.

It was a crisp autumn day that I was invited, along with my parents and my DofE Gold group, to St James's Palace to receive the award.

I read somewhere in the days leading up to it that Prince Philip had taken a considerable step back from attending these ceremonies and meeting those who'd taken part in the scheme, but that day we were in luck.

It wasn't Prince Edward as we were expecting, it was the gold standard, Prince Philip, and all of a sudden my nerves shot up massively.

Walking into and around the palace is pretty special; it's hard to concentrate on the instructions from the DofE staff on what to do and where to stand. You have to take in every corner of the rooms you enter because they're so grand.

A teenager from Warrington, from a South Asian background, stood in a royal palace about to meet the Queen's husband - it was a bit of a "pinch me" moment.

The amazing thing is, many thousands of other people will have felt exactly the way I did, before my time and even in the days to come.

After all the talks and the ceremonial procedure, the Duke of Edinburgh was doing his rounds, meeting all the other award recipients.

I must have checked my tie and suit a hundred times before he came to us. My palms were sweaty, head was confused about what to say, and I was trying not to make eye contact with my parents who were opposite (no doubt preparing to completely embarrass me).

He walked over and asked where we were from and my friend Matt was straight in: "Bridgewater High School in Cheshire, Sir."

The duke looked at me and said: "And they let you on the scheme, did they?"

I awkwardly laughed and replied: "Unfortunately for my group, yes they did."

He then looked at my pals and asked: "Did you make him carry all the bags?" Laughter erupted. He may have been ripping into me, but I couldn't help but chuckle.

He turned around and spotted my parents (the only people of colour in our half of the room). "Your boy, is he?" he asked my mum and dad while pointing at me with his long, bony fingers.

"Yes, we're incredibly proud of him," my father responded.

I gave a sigh of relief as the duke nodded his head and moved on to the next group. I was glad it was over, but I was so glad it was him who turned up that day.

My encounters with Prince Philip didn't stop there. Less than a year later, I was lucky enough to return to St James's Palace on request by the DofE scheme.

They wanted me to recall my journey through the awards and talk about how it had helped me and what I'd learnt. It was a speech in front of about 40 VIP guests - including the most VIP of them all, Prince Philip.

I was in front of King Henry VIII's fireplace, speech in hand, with these very interesting and famous people crowded in front of me. But stood directly opposite the Duke of Edinburgh, I was a bag of nerves.

I had only been told that morning that he was going to be there. I felt like scrunching up my speech and starting again. Would he find my jokes funny?

It turns out, he did. Seeing him chuckle slightly while I was speaking is an image I've stored in my mind. But it was his jokes and gags afterwards that had me and the other guests in hysterics.

He was so charming, funny and quick, too; by far the oldest person in the room, but I felt as if we had to keep up with him.

When I spoke to the duke after the speech, the first thing he did was grab my tie and push it right up towards my top button, tightening it while saying: "I wanted to do that from the moment you started speaking."

I was hugely embarrassed, but it was a massive ice-breaker and instantly I felt relaxed to have a very brief chat with him.

He congratulated me and we spoke about our shared interest in cricket. He showed off his forward defence before having to leave and his duty continued, meeting hundreds of other people that day.

These are hugely precious memories and they're most poignant now, in the moments after his passing.

I'm lucky to have such recent and true memories of Prince Philip, all because of the invaluable scheme named after him, which gave me so much.