Y Cyfarfod Llawn - Y Bumed Senedd

Plenary - Fifth Senedd


The Record is the official report of the proceedings of Senedd Cymru and is published by the Senedd Commission in accordance with section 31(6) of the Government of Wales Act 2006 and the Standing Orders of the Senedd.

In the bilingual version, the left-hand column includes the language used during the meeting. The right-hand column includes a translation of those speeches.

The Senedd met by video-conference at 11:00 with the Llywydd (Elin Jones) in the Chair.

Statement by the Llywydd

Good morning. The Senedd has been recalled today so that our national Parliament is able to pay its respects to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. It's fitting that we, as a national Parliament, in line with other national Parliaments, meet to express our sympathy with Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family. The Prince gave many years of public service. This included active military service during the second world war and the creation of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which has given hundreds of thousands of young people in Wales and beyond vital experiences and opportunities. I now ask Members to observe a minute's silence.

A minute’s silence was held.

1. Tributes to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh

I now call on the First Minister to lead tributes to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. The First Minister, Mark Drakeford.

Llywydd, diolch yn fawr. A very long life, in any circumstances, brings with it a set of remarkable events witnessed and experiences enjoyed or endured. To have lived such a life at the centre of world events and in a way that made almost every experience of public rather than simply private interest makes it even more remarkable still, and that was the life of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Llywydd, in our own election, 16 and 17-year-olds will vote for the first time; when Prince Philip was born, women in this country had never voted. In the year in which he became 16, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain were both Prime Ministers. If it sounds like a lifetime ago, it is because it was. And in a way that very few people indeed have to manage, the life that witnessed all those changes had to absorb them all while almost never out of the public eye, always on show, always at the centre of attention, every occasion a special occasion.

We will all have heard the tributes of the last few days and their entirely accurate focus on the theme of public service, but it is worth pausing for a moment to remember the human story that goes alongside the service and the decade after decade in which that service was sustained.

And he served here in Wales too, of course. By now, Members will have been reminded that Prince Philip, as well as being Duke of Edinburgh, was also the Earl of Merioneth. It's no surprise, therefore, that he was a supporter of a number of associations and societies in Merioneth, from the cricket club to the sailing club to the Merioneth brass band. Those are just a few examples of the broad diversity of causes that he championed directly in Wales in the spheres of culture, sport and the environment.

Llywydd, the last 12 months have seen many families faced with the grief of losing someone they have loved. However it happens, each loss is uniquely felt by those for whom that person will leave a gap in their lives that no-one else can fill. Our thoughts today are with those members of the wider royal family, who have to face that loss in the particularly distressing circumstances caused by the public health emergency.

Llywydd, when I moved into the juniors section of the Model Church in Wales School in Carmarthen, I took part in a competition organised by the World Wildlife Fund. A small number of far bigger boys and girls were to travel to Cardiff—a very distant and important sounding place, I remember—to attend an event led by the fund's UK president, the Duke of Edinburgh. Sixty years later, the sense of the collision of the personal and the historical has been there to see in the reaction of so many of our fellow citizens. It tells us something about the presence of Prince Philip throughout the lifespan of every single Member of this Senedd.

On behalf of the Welsh Government and those supporting the Government in this Parliament, which was another huge development during his lifetime, I extend our sincerest sympathies at the end of an exceptional life lived to the full. Thank you, Llywydd.


Thank you, Presiding Officer. I'm sure none of us would wish to be here today, but it is truly fitting that we are paying tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh at this tragic time of his passing. We'd much prefer to be on the campaign trail, I'm sure, and the Duke of Edinburgh, obviously, still with Her Majesty the Queen, supporting her in her role like he did for so many years and so many decades. Seventy-three years as a husband, nearly 70 years as a consort—that is a life of public service that I dare say we will never see again.

From the early part of his life, which clearly was a life of trauma, where he was stateless at a very young age, being rescued from Greece by a British destroyer, sent to school in England, and then his military service, named in dispatches, is an exemplary record of a young man who took control of his life and put it to public good in what were very bleak times for Europe and the world. Then marrying Her Majesty the Queen in 1947 and becoming the consort for life, being so supportive and such a mainstay of the royal family in decades and decades of public service that many of us can only look back and admire with true admiration. Thirteen Prime Ministers, 13 United States Presidents and three First Ministers here in Wales—truly a record that will not be surpassed as we go forward into the future.

But it is also a record of celebration we should focus on because he was someone of such significance in supporting young people in what they did in their lives. The Duke of Edinburgh scheme has supported 8 million young people across the globe, and many millions of people here in the United Kingdom. In Wales in particular, 400,000 people have been put on the road to a future of bright prospects by the development of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme in 1956. And also the support of organisations here in Wales, such as the First Minister touched on, when he married Her Majesty the Queen in 1947 and made the Earl of Merioneth, to the Chancellor of the University of Wales to the patron of the football league of Wales, and many hundreds of organisations the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and, indeed, the world.

As well as reflecting on his strong support of wildlife and environmental causes, which, for many people, was way before their time in the 1960s and 1970s, it now has developed into the core theme of climate change and what we need to do to improve the environment and the climate and prospects of wildlife across the whole world. 

Equally, his service in the military, and in particular the Royal Navy, put him in such fine stead to support the military charities that supported veterans throughout their time. And, ultimately, one of my last memories of him was that picture with the Royal Marines in 2017 outside Buckingham Palace, where he stood tall with so many young servicemen, as if he were still one of those young servicemen. He offered so much to so many people, whether they were young, middle aged or old, and our thoughts and prayers are with the royal family as they grieve their mighty loss and the grief of this country over such a significant figure in all our lives.

There are many memories that many Members will have, but the memories that I have of him when he came to the Senedd and the interest that he showed at the three openings that I undertook with him here, in 2007, 2011 and 2016, are of a man who was always interested, always thoughtful and, ultimately, always considered in his judgment and in what he said when he spoke to people as he went round the room in the Senedd and afterwards. He will be sorely missed, and ultimately that stay that the Queen referred to as being the strength throughout her time as head of state will be a massive loss to Her Majesty the Queen in the coming years. But, ultimately, it is a life of service—public service—that we should reflect, and celebrate that public service whilst we mourn with Her Majesty the Queen and send our condolences and prayers to her and the rest of the royal family.


Thank you very much, Llywydd. On behalf of the Plaid Cymru group in the Welsh Parliament, I extend my sincere sympathy to Queen Elizabeth and her family in their bereavement. It's important to bear in mind, as has already been noted, in the midst of all the official mourning, that we are talking here about a wife who has lost her husband, with an incomprehensible void opening up after so many years together. In a year of so much loss, our silence today as a mark of respect and commemoration to the royal family in their grief is also a heart-rending symbol of loss, as we grieve with all those who have lost loved ones during this most difficult of years.

We are here not only to grieve, but also to thank Prince Philip for his lifetime's contribution. One of the Prince's greatest allegiances was to young people, as we've already heard. That contribution was great in the context of outdoor pursuits, a sector that's faced many challenges this year, of course, and a sector where there is a strong Welsh connection and roots stretching back almost as far the Prince's own lifespan. Prince Philip, as is well known, was a pupil at two of the schools of renowned German educator Kurt Hahn, first at the Schloss Salem school in Baden-Württemberg, and then, after the Nazis gained power, in Gordonstoun in Scotland. The core of Hahn's vision was the need to give every young person the opportunity to achieve their potential. 'There is more in you than you think' was the famous motto that he adopted. At the heart of his approach was learning through experience, rather than focusing on narrow academic approaches, through practical projects, or, better still, outdoor adventure, on land and sea, to build character and to embed the concept of leadership through the service of others. The vision had a strong influence on Prince Philip's outlook and his life.

In 1941, when Kurt Hahn went on to establish what is now recognised as the world’s first outdoor adventure centre, in Aberdovey, which subsequently became home to the worldwide Outward Bound organisation, Philip was one of its most ardent supporters. This, in turn, fuelled the inspiration for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, which gave far more young people the opportunity to fulfil their potential than would have been able to attend the schools established by Hahn—schools that were democratic in ethos, but elitist in nature, including, of course, Atlantic College here in Wales, which was the template for a global network of 200 schools. The Duke of Edinburgh, who attended the official opening of this Senedd and is now the subject of its final session, would appreciate the fact that the last piece of legislation passed in the fifth Senedd was one that gives prominence to Hahn’s educational progressiveness, which was crystallised over half a century ago in the international baccalaureate, in the new curriculum for Wales, with its emphasis on creativity, on collective learning and learning through experience.

We are all here to make a contribution, according to our abilities and values, and the ultimate contribution is to serve others. This was Hahn's fundamental message, taken by Prince Philip as his compass. It's a lesson worth contemplating by all, young or old, prince or ordinary person. It's not title or status or crown that is Prince Philip's most important legacy that we celebrate today, but the support that he provided to others. We thank him for his contribution. And we also give thanks for every contribution made by those of his generation, and those who are younger, who we have lost this year in Wales and beyond. May they all rest in peace.


I would like to offer my group's condolences to Her Majesty and all the royal family. The Duke of Edinburgh was a devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, and his sad passing will be keenly felt by all those who loved him, and my thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time. The Duke of Edinburgh's passing is not only a loss to family and friends, but to all of us. As a committed royalist, I mourn the loss of not only a great man but a shining beacon of public service. His Royal Highness devoted his life to his Queen and our nation. And even the staunchest republicans have to admit that Prince Philip was one of the greatest public servants, a man who was committed to helping others above all else.

The Prince was a great ambassador for our monarchy and our nation. He sought to put the interests of our nation above all else, never seeking political favour. Prince Philip's passing will leave a large hole in our nation, a nation he fought for in world war two and then dedicated his life to when he married Princess Elizabeth in 1947. He continued to put serving his Queen and country first for the next 70 years. One can only imagine the heartache he must have felt when ill health forced his retirement just over three years ago, at the grand age of 96. During his 70 years of service, His Royal Highness championed many causes and was the patron of around 800 organisations and charities. From the environment to education, the Prince was active in many causes.

Most people are aware of the awards that share his name, but not many people know that he helped found the World Wildlife Fund in 1961. Prince Philip was a great environmentalist also, championing nature before it even became popular. He was not only a founder of the World Wildlife Fund, he was also patron of Fields in Trust and a whole raft of other nature conservation charities. He was the first person to drive an electric car around the streets of London, 10 years before the founder of Tesla was even born. His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will be deeply missed by us all, and I join everyone in mourning the loss of such a brilliant man and a great public servant. And may Her Majesty find some comfort in the fact that her devoted husband was loved by so many of us. Diolch yn fawr.    

It's a sad privilege but a very appropriate privilege that we are meeting today on such an occasion to commemorate the Earl of Merioneth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. We have had opportunities, many of us, to meet him on formal and informal occasions. And in a state such as the United Kingdom, which is structured as a social democracy but also has a monarch as head of state, we need intelligent people to be undertaking those roles. And from my experience of the Duke, he was intelligent, enthusiastic and unending in his questioning. I little thought, as a primary school pupil, the first time I saw him, that I would often meet him later in my career. I well remember the event; the royal train was travelling slowly through the Conwy valley, so that he had an opportunity to greet the primary pupils who were standing on one side of the track. And that willingness to relate to people was characteristic of his career.

But I want to say a few words about his unique interest in matters of faith. Of course, he married the head of the British state and, as the church in England is not yet disestablished, then he had to be an Anglican in the Church of England. But I will never forget the questions that he asked me after a service that we held in the church of St Mary in the bay after one of our official openings of the National Assembly, as it was then, and, as some of you who are familiar with Cardiff Bay will know, this particular church, which is part of the Church in Wales now, of course, is located next to the Greek Orthodox church, and we had tried to arrange in that service to reflect all faith communities and all of the languages spoken within those communities in Wales in order to demonstrate that there is a strong tradition of collaboration between the faith communities that had existed in Wales for many years, but particularly following devolution. So, there was a psalm sung in Hebrew, the Greek scriptures were read, and, of course, Welsh and English were used equally in that service. And at the end of the service, he came to me and looked me in the eye—as he did with everyone he spoke to—and asked in English:

'I want to ask you a question',

he said,

'I've never heard such an interfaith service ever,'

he said,

'anywhere in the United Kingdom, and I want to tell you,'

he said,

'you'd never get away with that in London.'

And what was of interest to him, of course, was why we had arranged that kind of event, and he understood the importance of faith to communities, and diversity of language, and his life experience reflected that.

And the final word takes me back again to Meirionnydd. He was made Earl of Merioneth, and one of the most interesting events I attended with him was in Aberdovey, at the Outward Bound centre, because he was so committed to the use of the outdoors in order to develop the lives of our young people. And therefore it's a privilege for me, as a Member of Parliament in Westminster for a time when I had opportunities to meet with him, and then later in the House of Lords, and here in the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Parliament, to thank him for being Philip Meirionnydd in the Gorsedd of the Bards, and Earl of Merioneth too, and for being a worthy representative of the religious and national diversity of the United Kingdom.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.


On behalf of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen, the royal family and all of those that feel the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, most keenly. The Duke of Edinburgh dedicated his long life to those that he loved, to our country, and to the many causes that he championed. Those causes were numerous and varied. His commitment to environmental justice has already been commented upon this morning, and was espoused before it became fashionable to do so. But, of course, the most well known of his passions was indeed the outdoors that Dafydd Elis-Thomas just referred to, and the establishment of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, a scheme that recognised the need to support and develop the potential of all our young people, and to give them the opportunity to experience a broad range of opportunities beyond formal education—indeed, I would argue, an ethos that underpins our new curriculum here in Wales. Perhaps some of us were lucky enough to undertake the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, although I do have to admit, Presiding Officer, those two days in the Black Mountains for my bronze award were enough for me. Therefore, I felt a little fraudulent when I had the very great honour, many years later, to be invited to St James's Palace to present gold awards, on behalf of the Duke, to Welsh recipients.

But his commitment to children and young people and the causes of education went beyond that of his award. He was a patron of Book Aid International—a programme that looks to support literacy programmes across the world and looks to develop public libraries, recognising the importance of access to the written word in democratising knowledge. He was also a patron of Plan International, which looks to support children and young people in some of the poorest nations of the world.

I know that every time he visited the constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire he was warmly welcomed, and his visits were sources of great pride to the local community.

May he rest in peace, and may his memory be a blessing.


It is hard to grasp the sheer span of Prince Philip's lifetime. I read that he had done 22,000 engagements, and then heard somewhere else that he had done 300 a year. My first thought was that it must be more than that—how could it otherwise be 22,000? I actually had to calculate and multiply it through by 70 years to understand, gosh, that that's actually about right. It is amazing what he did. In 1921, when he was born, we were the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Lloyd George was Prime Minister. Only some women had then been able to vote. And in that year, Prince Philip's father, Andrew, was one of the generals who failed to succeed at the battle of Sakarya, outside Ankara. And six other generals there had a trial and were immediately executed, whereas, because Prince Philip's father was a prince, he was granted a separate trial. But, to forestall his fate being the same, this country, under Lloyd George, broke off diplomatic relations with Greece and we only restored them after Prince Andrew and his family, including the infant Philip, were able to leave what had previously been the governor's house in Corfu, as Andrew R.T. Davies said, on a British warship. How the fates of history are entwined. 

I recall meeting the Duke of Edinburgh only once. I think it was at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for the Queen at Parliament. In the royal gallery, he came past and spoke to me, and found I was the MP, then, for Rochester. He said I must have an awful lot of having to talk about Charles Dickens, but he was reading a new biography of him by Claire Tomalin, and he spoke about it. He said it was more sensitive than any other in understanding Dickens's difficulties in characterising female characters compared to male, and also the sensitivity and understanding of how the very difficult childhood experiences he'd had had moulded him as a man and what he had to do to get through those. I thought about that in what people have said about Prince Philip in recent days. Firstly, just to think how extraordinary it was, actually, to have a genuine and real conversation with so so many people he met; how easy it is to be uncontroversial or anodyne in those conversations and to go through them in form rather than substance, and to actually touch so many people's lives by finding something special to say to different people and to engage his own character, I feel, is extraordinary.

Nowadays, we would refer to some of Prince Philip's experiences as adverse childhood experiences, and his grandchildren, Prince William and Harry, have done an awful lot for mental health, and now we are much more willing and supportive for people to talk about their experiences, and the stiff upper lip of previous generations isn't what it was. But I hope that still we will allow choice, and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, what he did to get through his challenges and what he faced to become the person he did and what he did for our country, is extraordinary, and he did it in a different way than many do perhaps now. And I hope we will support and allow the choice and understanding for all, whatever choices they make. Our thoughts today are with the Queen and with her family, and with the whole nation. May he rest in peace. God save the Queen.


Many of us will have shared the company of Prince Philip, accompanying Her Majesty the Queen, at royal openings of the Senedd and on other occasions, but I also remember some of the less formal conversations. When he and the Queen visited Ebbw Vale in 2012 as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, I noticed how he also spent time helping people to feel at ease and to enjoy the occasion. He very much saw this as an occasion for the people and not just an occasion for himself and the royal party. He wanted everybody to feel that same ease and to be able to enjoy meeting himself and Her Majesty.

He represented a generation that not only fought in the second world war, but understood what is needed to bring about peace between nations. The depth and breadth of his public service over the years was rooted in a world view that was itself broad in outlook and deep in understanding, and united by a belief that people could be a force for change. Presiding Officer, I first saw this world view when I first met the Duke some years ago now, in the 1980s, when I worked at WWF and he was the president of the organisation. Now, quite often, such figureheads can be very distant, only attending formal occasions, but that wasn't Prince Philip's way: he galvanised and invigorated the whole organisation. His passion and his knowledge and his understanding challenged the organisation and all of us who worked in it. His energy and drive meant that his visits were earthquakes rather than stately occasions. He understood the connections between climate policy and ecology at a time when such things were widely challenged and questioned. But he also understood the role that organisations such as WWF could play in leading, innovating and driving change. He was known in the 1950s as a reformist of the way that the royal family worked and operated, but he could bring people together and act as a catalyst and help deliver that change. I saw very much an active prince, a prince who had an urgency to not only effect change, but to play a part in driving and shaping that change.

Presiding Officer, in the Valleys, of course, we also remember his visits to Aberfan. I was reflecting with Dawn Bowden over the past few days how profoundly his visits to families at that time helped, and how he reached out at a time when we were suffering one of the worst national disasters in our history. Prince Philip spent time talking to people, making tea for people and listening to their pain and their suffering. Today, Presiding Officer, our hearts go out to Her Majesty the Queen and the whole of the royal family. We hope that the words and sympathies of all of our nations and peoples united will bring them some comfort at this time of profound sadness.

As I extend my deepest sympathy to Her Majesty and the whole royal family, I recall with great fondness the official opening of the fourth Assembly in 2011. It was my honour to attend on Prince Philip, introduce him to the guests and host his table for the celebratory lunch, held in the Wales Millennium Centre. Put simply, the Duke was good company and engaging. That was the basis of his extraordinary character. He enjoyed life and found the people placed on this earth at the same time as him fascinating, unique and capable of valuable service to others. 

Those Members in attendance in 2011 will remember that Only Men Aloud sang for us during the lunch. In the introductions before, he asked one of the choir, 'Are you singing hymns? It's always hymns.' At this point, he was mildly reproached by the Queen. 'But they've been asked to sing hymns, Philip.' It was a reminder that above all they were a married couple blessed with a happy marriage. Prince Philip put all the guests at his table at ease and talked to each of them. He also put the waiter at ease after he forgot to bring the Duke his beer, India pale ale, by arrangement. He much preferred beer to wine.

Just before it was time to leave, I asked Prince Philip if he had another engagement that day, 'Yes', he replied, 'a dinner to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of the King James Bible.' He loved reading the Bible, he said, and thought the King James version inspiring. A little foolishly, for you are advised not to ask too many direct and testing questions, I asked which was his favourite book of the Bible. Prince Philip did not hesitate, 'Ecclesiastes.' Only an avid reader of the Bible would have made this reply. Ecclesiastes is an enigmatic book, the most curious and paradoxical of the wisdom books of the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes is renowned for challenging some cherished beliefs; it speaks of a theology based on experience; it urges one to enter into life with zest; and it calls for a faith that is honest and in touch with reality. Above all, he had faith in the future as long as we innovate,

'Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.'

He was a man of the future, and he served his nation with incredible determination and achievement. May he rest in peace.


I thank all Members for their contributions this morning. I will write to Her Majesty the Queen to express the Senedd's condolences on her bereavement. And that brings today's proceedings to a close. Thank you all for your attendance. 

The meeting ended at 11:37.