We remember HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh the Person

Tributes for HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh have echoed around the world since his recent passing at age 99. The recurring themes of these tributes admire his life of service, devotion and commitment. We fondly remember his humility and humour from his visits to Outward Bound Australia.

He joked with an Outward Bound alumna after she accidentally spilt tea down his leg at a function in Canberra in 1973. Initially mortified she was put at ease by his light-hearted reaction.

Prince Philip enjoyed a tour of our Tharwa base in 2000. He keenly watched a group of participants on the high ropes course and chatted to another group preparing lunch by a fire. He consciously made time to talk to nearly every team member and even made a radio call to staff at our Western Australian base.

In a letter we received from the Prince Philip’s Private Secretary afterwards it said the Prince had particularly appreciated the opportunity to talk to so many of the instructors and young people. He was evidently impressed with everyone’s enthusiasm and dedication.

The entire team at Outward Bound Australia are saddened by his death but deeply proud to continue his considerable and enduring legacy with both Outward Bound and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. We were, and still are, impressed by his enthusiasm and dedication helping young people be the best they can be.

The Outward Bound Tharwa High Ropes Course that The Duke of Edinburgh inspected in 2000. Click here or on image to watch a video.

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Outward Bound

A young Prince Philip of Greece boarded at Gordonstoun School in Scotland. Gordonstoun was founded by Kurt Hahn, the influential German Jewish educator who fled Germany as the Nazi party rose to power. Hahn’s philosophy educates the whole person; that is the physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual.

While at Gordonstoun, the young Prince Philip trained as a coast guard, climbed mountains and sailed his own boat to the Orkneys in line with Hahn’s emphasis on self-discipline, physical challenge, service to others and exposure to uncomfortable elements to help build resilience and develop strength of character. The Duke of Edinburgh said later, “I was wet, cold, miserable, probably sick and often scared stiff, but I would not have missed the experience for anything.”

In a recent interview when asked, “Would you say your time at Gordonstoun changed your life?” HRH replied, “More than that, it informed my life.”

That was the beginning of the lifelong mutual respect and admiration between Prince Philip and Kurt Hahn. When Kurt Hahn founded Outward Bound in 1953, he asked His Royal Highness to become the first Trustee of The Outward Bound Trust. HRH held this position with unwavering personal commitment until 2019.

In 1956 Kurt Hahn approached HRH The Duke of Edinburgh about developing a program “to support young people on their journey of self-development, as they find their purpose, passion and place in the world, regardless of their background, culture, physical ability, skills or interest.” HRH loved the idea, and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award was born.

It’s no surprise Kurt Hahn chose Prince Philip to partner on the award. When he graduated Gordonstoun in 1938 as School Captain (‘head boy’ in the day), Hahn noted Prince Philip “has the greatest sense of service of all the boys in the school.”

(Read more about Kurt Hahn’s Six Declines of Modern Youth and how they’re still relevant today.)

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award

His Royal Highness wrote this in the foreword to the International Handbook for Duke of Edinburgh Award Leaders around the year 2000, and explains the purpose and principals of The Award:

“Young people growing up in this modern and complicated world have many difficulties to face, and opportunities for personal achievement are often limited. At the same time, parents, teachers, voluntary organisation leaders and employers who recognise their responsibilities towards young people also have their challenges.

“The Award is intended to help both the young as well as those who are concerned for their welfare. The object is to provide an introduction to worthwhile leisure activities and voluntary service, as a challenge to the individual to discover the satisfaction of achievement, and as a guide those people and organisations who would like to encourage the development of their young fellow citizens.”

Outward Bound Australia is proud to be an Open Award Centre for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in NSW, ACT and Victoria.

A recent Duke of Edinburgh Award Adventurous Journey in Tharwa, ACT.

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s Legacy

Nick Barrett, Chief Executive of The Outward Bound Trust recently commented on HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s involvement with Outward Bound and The Duke of Ed Award.

“Both The Outward Bound Trust and The Duke of Edinburgh Award program have helped instil purpose, resilience, a sense of adventure and fun in millions of young people in the UK and many countries overseas. The Duke of Edinburgh has always stayed remarkably close to our charity. His Royal Highness has advised and challenged the Board, but also engaged brilliantly and directly when meeting with the young people who have benefited from our programs.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s involvement has gone far beyond any mere call of duty, we are immensely thankful but also stronger for all his intelligent and thoughtful direction and interventions.”

Outward Bound is now in more than 30 countries globally with over 4 million alumni. Over 5.5 million Duke of Edinburgh Awards have been earned in 160 countries and territories. Right now, another 1 million people are enrolled in The Award. That’s quite a legacy.

Possibly more than anyone, HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh embodies the Outward Bound motto: To serve, to strive and not to yield.

Vale, Your Royal Highness. Thank you for your service.

Ben Farinazzo, past CEO of Outward Bound Australia, signing the condolence book for HRH Prince Philip at Government House, Canberra on Saturday 17th April 2021. Upon invitation by the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, Joint Patrons of Outward Bound Australia.

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