Paying tribute to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, and our thoughts are with Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal family at this time. Throughout his life, the Duke made a significant and extraordinary contribution to this country, from his military career to his seven decades and more of Royal duty. We were proud to recognise and reward that distinguished service with an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Plymouth in 2012, and to welcome him as he opened our Marine Building, which continues to inspire our staff, students and the wider community in fields we know he cared passionately about and devoted his energies to over many years.”

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor


The University of Plymouth has paid tribute to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh following his death at the age of 99.

The Duke had a long association with the University and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Marine Science in 2012, in recognition of his decorated career in the Royal Navy.

That honour was conferred when the Duke opened our state-of-the-art Marine Building and, alongside HM The Queen, he presented our second Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

He also worked with academics from our History department to for the first time make public his experiences as a midshipman during the Second World War.

Opening the Marine Building

During a ceremony in October 2012, part of the University’s 150th anniversary commemorations, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was given a tour of the Marine Building by Professor of Marine Ecology Martin Attrill.

He had the opportunity to take the wheel of the ship simulator, part of the Marine Navigation Centre, and saw a demonstration of the power of the COAST Laboratory.

He then donned his graduation gown to receive his honorary doctorate, with the gown and signed doctorate still displayed proudly within the foyer of the building.

Then, as a large crowd of VIPs and members of the public watched, The Duke formally opened the building by unveiling an inscription cut into the limestone boulder which stands outside the building.

The Duke of Edinburgh is shown around the COAST Lab by Professor Martin Attrill

The Duke of Edinburgh is shown around the COAST Lab by Professor Martin Attrill

<p>HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opens the University of Plymouth's Marine Building</p>
<p>Coast lab in Marine Building</p>
<p>HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opens the University of Plymouth’s Marine Building<br></p>

Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education

The University received its second Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace – hosted by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh – in February 2012.

The accolade was made in recognition of our worldwide reputation for marine and maritime education and research and paid tribute to the legacy and impact of our research, teaching and training across the sectors. This included our pioneering partnerships with the Britannia Royal Naval College, FOST-HM, and international organisations such as the King Fahd Naval Academy.

The awards formed part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and also coincided with the University's 150th anniversary of the founding of the Plymouth School of Navigation in 1862.

Dark Seas: The Battle for Cape Matapan

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh wrote the foreword for the first in a series of books about some of the great naval actions and campaigns of the Second World War.

The Britannia Naval Histories of World War II series, conceived by Associate Professor of History Dr Harry Bennett and published by the University of Plymouth Press, was compiled from wartime and post-war battle summaries in the archives at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.

The Duke himself studied at Britannia – to be followed later by his sons Princes Charles and Andrew and his grandson Prince William – graduating top of his class in early 1940.

He was a midshipman on board HMS Valiant she was involved in the Battle for Cape Matapan – which saw the Royal and Australian Navies defeat their Italian counterparts – in March 1941.

In the foreword for Dark Seas: The Battle for Cape Matapan, The Duke explained that he was tasked with operating a searchlight at night on board HMS Valiant and wrote about his role in one night’s fighting during the battle.

  • Since 2008 the University has established itself as a centre of excellence and success in delivering educational opportunities to naval officers and NCO professional training at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.

Duke reveals details of his role in wartime naval battle

Dark Seas: The Battle for Cape Matapan was part of The Britannia Naval Histories of World War II series, compiled from wartime and post-war battle summaries in the archives at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth
Read more about the Duke's foreword for the book
Britannia Royal Naval College
The Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth