Previously unseen Prince Philip photos show his early sailing prowess

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jack Hardy
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
The black-and-white images have finally come to light - Major B Varvill R.A.M.C
The black-and-white images have finally come to light - Major B Varvill R.A.M.C

The Duke of Edinburgh’s early nautical prowess was captured in photographs from his school days that have never previously been seen.

Taken in 1937, Prince Philip is seen sitting confidently at the helm of Diligent, one of the sailing boats belonging to the boarding school in Scotland where he was educated, Gordonstoun.

The teenage Duke was also pictured in a pose that belied the splendour of the years ahead, as he washed up dishes onboard the boat while grinning at the camera.

The black-and-white images have finally come to light after the great-nephew of the former student who took them made contact with the school following the Duke’s passing.

Diligent was Gordonstoun’s first offshore vessel and had been bought by a member of staff, who was also a yachtsman, in June 1936, according to the school.

The 14-ton trading ketch was first used by the school, in Moray, north east Scotland, for a cruise to Fair Isle and the Shetlands the following month and soon began to be used regularly by pupils during term time.

Prince Philip had a lifelong love for sailing - Major B Varvill R.A.M.C
Prince Philip had a lifelong love for sailing - Major B Varvill R.A.M.C

The school had been established two years earlier by Kurt Hahn, who acted as both the Duke’s headmaster and a mentor to him through his troubled early life.

Dr Hahn had previously taught Philip at the Salem school in Germany until he was forced to flee Nazi persecution.

Upon rejoining Dr Hahn in Scotland, the Duke was said to have become a popular if “academically undedicated” student.

He did, however, excel at sport and it was during his time at Gordonstoun that he discovered his love for sailing.

The Duke would become a cadet at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth after leaving Gordonstoun in 1939, the first step in what would become a distinguished military career.

Prince Philip's funeral and military procession in pictures
Prince Philip's funeral and military procession in pictures

His love for sailing would continue into royal life, leading him to buy a 19-metre racing yacht, Bloodhound, in 1962. It was used to teach the young royals to sail on family holidays.

On Friday, students from Gordonstoun took part in an early morning run to commemorate the Duke, who himself would have had to endure morning runs as part of the school’s curriculum.

More than 100 students and staff undertook the two-mile route from Gordonstoun House to the nearby Coastguard watchtower, a building which replaced a wooden hut the Duke helped to build in 1935, the school said.

The Duke was a member of the ‘watchers’, a precursor to the Coastguard, during his time at the school and returned to open the new watch tower in 1955.

Prince Philip's funeral - April 17
Prince Philip's funeral - April 17

A further tribute will be paid to him on Saturday by the school’s young sailors. They are due aboard the school’s 80ft sail training boat, Ocean Spirit of Moray, to lay a wreath off the coast of Hopeman Harbour.

It was in this area that Philip first learned to sail, the school said.

A lone student piper will play on the shore during the tribute, while displaying the Duke’s coat of arms on a banner that was presented to the school’s pipe band by the Queen in 2019.