That time the Duke of Edinburgh gate-crashed my walking-tour

With the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh last week it reminded me of when I met him.  I remember at least two occassions though saw him in a non-speaking capacity at other times.  One time was when I had to sing Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit in Maori to the Queen on Commonwealth Day (a long story as mine always are) 🙂


But just a few years ago I was taking a rather important elderly foreign visitor on some tours who it turned out was a rather important person in the world of security.  

We were walking along Birdcage Walk between Parliament and Buckingham Palace and I was in mid conversation when a black London taxi stopped right next to us and the window went down. The driver was Prince Philip who listened briefly to what I was saying as I ended that section as hastily and with as good grace as I could.  

A black London taxi was a preferred method of transport for the Duke when he wanted to be out without Security and with there being thousands of identical black taxis in London, for all intents and purposes it allowed him  some independence without any undue risk.

After a brief introduction from my tourist who we can call Michael, so as not to get anyone in trouble, Prince Philip said “Michael, are you the man whose ducking up my traffic lights?”

He didn’t actually use the word ducking but something a little ruder and he may well have mentioned ducks more than once!

As it happened, poor Michael was overseeing some new security system and had indeed been doing the upgrade work in front of the Palace, indeed that is likely the main reason he was here in the first place.

I managed not to say anything stupid or indeed get insulted before I promised I’d make sure my tourist got to Buckingham Palace afterwards.  So I think I got his seal of approval.

Prince Philip told me to keep doing a good job before he drove off. And then the tour continued liked it never happened lol.  It was one of those things that so often happens to me when I am out and about though no less surreal for being so.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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5 Responses to That time the Duke of Edinburgh gate-crashed my walking-tour

  1. Contractions of Fate says:

    I was listening to Dad’s Army and Godfrey was just explaining that his sister had the only key to the cottage, where Captain Mainwaring wanted to set up an oupost should Hitler and his rotten Nazis invade Warmington-on-Sea.

    They they interrupted the show with the announcement. Three days of wall-to-wall, back-to-back Duke of Edinburgh, on ALL BBC channels. If I had a TV, I would probably have watched a 90 minute documentary of his life. But the incessant coverage of people trying to sound sombre and grief-stricken, with tributes form almost every single world leader, was too much. I know who he was and I know what he did. All I could do was turn off the radio and listen to music.

    But I enjoyed reading your anecdote! You made it available, and I made my choice to read it. You didn’t try and ram it down my throat!

    Radio 4 Extra is back to normal now, but I hope they repeat last week’s Dad’s Army. That stuff never gets old! Unlike the BBC’s Royal Death coverage.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I felt exactly the same. Even as a history buff, I watched about 2 minutes and switched off. Throughout the next 2-3 days whenever I flicked through the channels there was never any info I wasn’t already aware of. Couldn’t care less really, I’m sure it is very sad for his family and I liked some though not all of his old-fashioned upper-lip work-ethics but to have the same shows on multiple channels at the same time is too much. I can’t feel too sad for someone who lived almost 40 years older than my mother. So I ended up catching up with recorded shows and watching Middlesex cricket live on Youtube! I’m glad you enjoyed my memory, I’m quite sure the Prince of all people would think it was overkill. If there’s one thing he is famous for is a joke, short temper and a hatred of being fussed over. 🙂 I think for the next few years I will always keep some things unwatched on my TV box for when the inevitable happens with The Queen.


      • Contractions of Fate says:

        Yes, and he _was_ 99 and was well known for not wanting a big fuss and a huge state funeral. Thanks to COVID, at least he will get that last wish. It’s a tragic irony that by doing exactly the last thing he wanted, the BBC made people absolutely sick of hearing about it, and so soiled the memory of the man in a way that should never have happened.

        Lacking a TV, I have so many DVDs in boxes collected over about 15 years. I stared going through those and found so many great films I have no memory of watching!

        So when it’s the Queen’s turn, I will respectfully listen to the announcemnets, and the moment they start repeating themsleves, or drag out another professional “Royal Watcher” sicophant desperately trying to put a tremor in their voice just for the microphone, I might do the Game of Thrones Marathon!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes its true. As it would be the Queen and she too will be 100 or so then I can understand one channel making the most of it, I’m sure other countries do much more. But the endless fawning isn’t our way. It should be all the channels for 15-30 minutes then one BBC channel for as long as it needs to be. Everything else should pretty much go back to normal until the funeral which again shouldn’t be on every channel. I’m just in the process of bagging up my DVDs, the perilous financial state of being ExcludedUK for 15 months means they have to go. The irony being half the country obsessing over a very rich and very old man who has died as one of the actually qualified, relatively young, obviously poor person who brings the life of his family and buildings to life is entirely ignored by all involved!


  2. run-sew-read says:

    I’m in awe of your royal encounter. I would have gone speechless I’m sure. What a fun story.

    Liked by 1 person

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