Obituary : HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh
The Carriagedriving Community is saddened
The passing away of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, saddens us a lot, even if this was apprehended since quite a while.
This news generated a lot of statements in grieving for the Duke and of highest acknowledgment, too, not only in Great Britain but also round the world.
On behalf of the Association Internationale de l’Attelage de Tradition (AIAT) I like to express my deepest condolence with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and also to manifest the sorrow of the driver’s community worldwide. They all felt the highest respect and veneration for Prince Philip.
I like to emphasize Prince Philip’s achievements in favor of driving. When he ceased his Polo activities at the end of the sixties it was quite clear for him to pick up with driving, having horses, coaches, and the most elegant harnesses at home, including all the competent experts within the Royal staff. In consequence he dedicated himself to the new driving, his new field of activity, with a very good sense of proportion and gentleness.
„New Driving“ means that just at that time this sport was about to be newly defined.
Taking over the presidency of the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), Prince Philip has yielded driving by adapting the existing set of rules of the cross-country competition:
the presentation and dressage, the cross-country and long distance driving referring to the Marathon, and the cone driving as equivalent to the jumping competition.
In those days the competitions first were driven with the existing coaches. But quite soon it turned out that the coaches needed to be adapted to the requirements of the modern type of Marathon driving. In consequence the old coaches were replaced by modern replicas for the dressage competitions, and very versatile metal carriages were developed for the Marathon obstacles.
I was given several occasions to discuss the developments of our sport with Prince Philip, in particular during the competitions held at Windsor Castle. He always kept his ears open for any kind of innovations and was all set to get them done.
In particular I am thinking of the topic how the reins were to be held in the driver’s hands. The “purists” would only accept “four in hands”. The Prince, however, quickly had understood that the evolution of the course and the obstacles would make the “Hungarian method” eligible for the Marathon competition, especially as no regulation existed about how to hold the reins. Hence the drivers were free to deploy their favored method.
Modern driving did absolutely not get along with just the traditional techniques.
When I presented my concept of rules and standards for “Attelage de Tradition” to Prince Philip at the turn of the millennium I was more than happy to find him giving his blessings to this new setup right away. He was very much aware of the importance to reintegrate the elements of tradition into a sport which had become very technical.
During the last International Traditional Sandringham Carriagedriving Trials in 2019 Prince Philip was attending the entire presentation, and he had a lot of questions and comments on the judgement criteria. He was pleased with the judgement scheme applied.
At the award ceremony I could take the opportunity to express my public address of appreciation to the Duke of Edinburgh about what he had achieved to the benefit of our sport, being the founding father of the modern driving sport, and we owe all to him.
From his pony turnout on which he followed the entire event he gave me a sign of appreciation. This gesture touched me deeply, and it should become our last face-to-face encounter.
We all, the friends of carriage driving worldwide, owe endlessly much to Prince Philip, always being so much at ease and accessible, intelligent, and with such a good portion of humor – just a model for style and class.
Baron Christian de Langlade,
President of AIAT