Tag: Prince Philip

Joe Stirling meets Prince Philip in 1975

On the sad occasion of the death of The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, I would love to share this story about his visit to Norwich in July 1975 as it appears in my first book Escaping Hitler (published by Pen and Sword Books in 2016).

The crowds lined the streets of Norwich early on the morning of Tuesday,

1 July. Joe had recovered from the worst of the jet lag and looked forward to

wearing the Sheriff’s chain again, this time in the presence of Prince Philip,

Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke was visiting Norwich to inspect an awardwinning

conservation scheme dubbed ‘Heritage-Over-The-Wensum’. At

Thorpe Road Railway Station, Joyce in her Mayoral chain was part of the

welcome committee, on this occasion obliged to defer to the Lord Lieutenant

of Norfolk, Sir Edmund Bacon as first citizen of the City. This pushed the

Sheriff into third place in the hierarchy that day. The Duke’s first engagement

was to climb aboard a steam launch, moored at the Norwich Yacht Station, aptly

named The Princess Margaret. As the Royal party reached Fishergate, a specially

commissioned fanfare sounded from musicians on Fye Bridge. Cheering

schoolchildren, factory and office workers vied for a glimpse of the special visitor.

The landlord of the Woolpack pub in Muspole Street welcomed the Duke

to his recently redecorated establishment, serving him with a tomato juice,

presumably without the vodka. As he passed along St George’s Street, students

from Norwich Art School showered the party with ticker tape, worrying the

Special Branch bodyguards. As the Duke prepared to enter Blackfriars for a

sherry and buffet lunch, it was Joe and Jean’s turn to shake his hand. Once the

feasting was over, the Duke presented the city with the conservation award. He

had spent the previous night aboard the Royal Train in sidings outside Norwich

Station. During his speech he was less than complimentary about the view of

the city’s industrial area, visible from his carriage. A number of assembled

dignitaries and guests squirmed a little at what appeared to be unwelcome

criticism. At precisely two o’clock the Duke climbed into the pilot’s seat of a

helicopter of The Queen’s Flight and flew to King’s Lynn in the north of the

county for further engagements. Joe had fulfilled his second official task as

Sheriff.