East End pays tribute to Prince Philip
- Credit: Mike Brooke
The school headteacher who invited the Queen and Prince Philip to the East End four years ago has paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, who has died at the age of 99.
The Royal visit in 2017 was to mark the centenary of the First World War bombing of the then-Upper North Street School in Poplar - now Mayflower School - where 18 children were killed, most of them infants.
Prince Philip was visibly moved when he visited Upper North Street with the Queen to learn about the devastation in 1917 when infants aged five to seven were killed in a German air raid.
The Royal couple were invited by headteacher Dee Bleach and the centenary event organiser, Stanley Kaye, who spent months tracing relatives and families of the children.
They issued a joint statement to the East London Advertiser following the announcement from Buckingham Palace.
“We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” it said. “He has been an ever-constant by the side of the Queen.
“We were honoured that the Queen, together with Prince Philip, attended the 100th anniversary of the bombing of the Upper North Street School in June 2017, which was his last official engagement. He will be missed.”
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Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs played host to the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen for the visit.
A statement from Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”
The mayor told the Advertiser: “I met him when he came to Poplar four years ago. His death announced today is a cause of sadness in east London. He represented loyal opinion. His passing is an end of an era.
"The duke represented our national identity. This is a time of reflection of our changing society. He was a symbol of our nation.”
The Union Flag is flying at half-mast over Tower Hamlets Town Hall and a Book of Condolence is open online for the public.
Prince Philip was a patron of air ambulance charities in the UK. The helicopter service at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel said it was "deeply saddened by the death of His Royal Highness" who was a patron and a great supporter.
He was a familiar face in the East End over the years when he looked in on the Repton boxing club in Bethnal Green a decade ago. 'The Duke' also visited Wapping boys' club back in 1961 where he announced a network of youth clubs being set up across London helping to keep youngsters active and off the streets.
Generations of youngsters in east London were among those across the nation who took part in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, which has helped millions achieve their potential since it was introduced in 1956.
It aims to motivate young people between 14 and 25 in self-development activities to take them from adolescence to adulthood. Its flexibility adapts to different cultures and has spread worldwide to 130 countries.