Pupils at Philip’s old school lay wreath at sea in his memory

Neil Pooran, PA Scotland
·2-min read

Pupils at the Duke of Edinburgh’s former school have paid tribute to him by laying a wreath at sea in his memory.

Gordonstoun school remembered the duke during an event at Hopeman Harbour in Moray on Saturday.

Children gathered on the school’s yacht, Ocean Spirit, which was anchored off the harbour.

While a lone piper played Flowers of the Forest on the harbour wall, a wreath was laid in the water.

As a pupil at the exclusive boarding school, Philip was a keen sailor and enjoyed many outdoor pursuits.

Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip of Greece, as he was then known, at Gordonstoun (PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency, the school’s current principal Lisa Kerr said Gordonstoun had provided stability after the turbulent early years of the prince’s life.

She said: “When he came to Gordonstoun in 1934 as the school’s tenth pupil it was a place where he found security and stability and a place where he was able to discover his true self and become the very best version of himself.

“It was somewhere that he developed his love of the sea, his love of sport, his connection with the outdoors and particularly built his focus on service to others, which is such an important part of the Godonstoun curriculum even today.”

Ms Kerr said his connection to Gordonstoun was “lifelong”, writing to the school in the final days of his life.

Three of Philip’s children and two grandchildren attended Gordonstoun.

Ms Kerr added: “When he came to Gordonstoun as a parent or grandparent, there was no pomp and ceremony.

“There’s a lovely story of how he came to one of Prince Edward’s drama performances and he sat in a seat with a handwritten sign that simply said ‘mum and dad’.”

Young sailors lay a wreath
Young sailors at the Duke of Edinburgh’s former school, Gordonstoun, lay a wreath at sea (Jane Barlow/PA)

The headteacher said the ceremony had aimed to reflect Philip’s love for the school and the area.

Ms Kerr said: “Throughout the whole of the last week we have had the opportunity to reflect on how proud we are in shaping what was important to the duke.

“We can’t have large-scale gatherings at the moment, but to be able to have a smaller tribute to him which is still an appropriate scale is great.

“For us to put together this tribute felt like the right thing to do in these circumstances – it represents his love of the Moray Firth, Hopeman Harbour and Gordonstoun.”

Pupils at Gordonstoun joined with people across the UK in observing a minute’s silence for the duke.

Opportunities to hold official commemoration events have been limited due to coronavirus restrictions.