Sir David Attenborough remembers 'formidable' friend Prince Philip

Katie Archer
·2 min read
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 7: Members of the Order of Merit, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (L) and Sir David Attenborough speak ahead of a luncheon at Windsor Castle on May 7, 2019 in Windosr, England. Established in 1902 by King Edward VII, The Order of Merit recognises distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Admission into the order remains the personal gift of The Queen and is restricted to a maximum of 24 living recipients from the Commonwealth realms, plus a limited number of honorary members. (Photo by Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Philip and Sir David Attenborough in 2019 (Photo by Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Sir David Attenborough has spoken fondly of his friend and ally in conservation work Prince Philip during the BBC coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral.

Wildlife expert and broadcaster Sir David was one of the guests invited to talk about their memories of Prince Philip during BBC One's programme ahead of the funeral service beginning.

Read more: Queen, Prince Charles, William and Harry to lead mourners

He said: “He was right there at the beginning at a time when conservation didn’t mean much to many people. Even in the 1950s and 60s he saw it universally. 

<p>“An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfilment.” (PA) </p>
Sir David Attenborough and Prince Philip had a shared interest in conservation (PA)

"The World Wildlife Fund owed a huge amount to his presence. When he spoke about conservation, he spoke about it with passion and knowledge.”

Sir David added: "If people are aware that there are problems (with wildlife conservation), a great deal of that is due to him."

The naturalist admitted that it could be nerve wracking to be in the Duke's presence, but said that he was also a "cheerful" man to be around.

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He said: “He was an extraordinary combination of being formidable and friendly. You knew he was there. He had an amazing presence. It was an extraordinary balancing act between formality and informality.”

Also sharing his memories of Prince Philip was gardener and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh, who read out an excerpt from a humorous letter the Duke had sent him about his hobbies, which included shooting and carriage driving.

Read more: Prince Philip's funeral in pictures

Former Royal Marine and TV presenter JJ Chalmers was another of the familiar faces fronting BBC One's coverage, as he spoke about the military involvement in the ceremony and the Duke's naval career.

Prince Philip's funeral is taking place at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, with a congregation of just 30 mourners because of coronavirus restrictions.

Watch: William and Harry pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh