Prince Philip's deep interest in Britain's biggest container port
- Credit: ANDY PARSONS
Prince Philip had a huge interest in Britain's industry and technology sectors - and developed strong links with the Port of Felixstowe.
He visited the port a number of times over the years, taking a special interest in its development from a traditional working port to embracing the world of containerisation in 1967 and becoming the UK's top box-port and a world leader.
He watched closely as the port expanded and was delighted in the major role it plays in the UK economy.
HM Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, referred to the Duke of Edinburgh's focus on Felixstowe in her tribute.
She said: "Our memories of the Prince are very vivid in Suffolk, where he had great influence on the development of the Port of Felixstowe in particular, where he was a frequent visitor."
He was accompanied by the Queen for one visit to the port - part of the silver jubilee tour of the country itinerary in July, 1977, where after visiting Ipswich the royal couple travelled to Felixstowe and the royal yacht Britannia, waiting for them at number 14 berth.
After a reception on board, the Felixstowe Society says the band of the Royal Marines beat retreat, and soon after the royal yacht sailed, played on its way by the band of the Sea Cadets Corps, heading north to carry on the tour the following day.
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Prince Philip enjoyed a trip to the port on his own in 2000 when he was taken to the top of one of the multi-million pound high-rise quayside ship-to-shore cranes and allowed to take over the controls and unload a container from the vessel Choyang Ace.
Before he ascended to the cab of 100m-high crane 19, I told him how I had watched his daughter Princess Anne take control of a crane on a similar mission several years before.
He replied: "I can't wait to get up there - and I am going to do it better than she did!"
He couldn't wait either to recount his experience after coming down in the crane lift.
The duke was a pleasure and great fun to be with, charming, chatty, humorous, and interested in all aspects of the port's work and those carrying it out.
It was Prince Philip’s maritime interest that led him to request the visit to the Haven Ports on that occasion to see how the hi-tech shipping industry is operated. Before arriving at Felixstowe he visited the operations centre at Harwich Haven Authority, stepped aboard a pilot launch for a tour of the harbour, and at Felixstowe visited the Trinity Terminal operations centre.
Five years later he visited the Port of Felixstowe to examine the port's plans for a large expansion project.