The legacy of a lifetime

When HRH the Duke of Edinburgh passed away in April, sea cadets around the country paid tribute to him. We take a look at how he helped to steer Sea Cadets and hear from some of those who met him

Prince Philip always had a deep passion for the ocean. “The environment is completely different to anything you’ll find on land,” he said during an interview. “You’re exposed to the elements in a way you never are ashore. At sea you’re in a cockleshell in this enormous expanse – so that tends to cut you down in size a bit.”

Prince Philip was Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps for 40 years (1952–1992). Even after he stepped down, he remained closely connected to the charity and actively interested in Sea Cadets, attending many key events. We hear from sea cadets and volunteers past and present who got a chance to meet him, or who took part in one of his greatest legacies, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, inspecting the Royal Guard of Sea Cadets at the Knightsbridge TAVR Drill Hall (Photo: Getty Images)

WO2 (SCC) Robert Fielden RNR, Teesside 

“I met Prince Philip in 2009, when I was an instructor for Guisborough Unit. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh came to visit HMS Trincomalee, Britain’s oldest floating warship. All six units in the district participated and I was one of the party that played the pipes for the royal couple. He asked me how long I’d been with Sea Cadets and thanked all of us for piping him on board. It’s a nice memory to look back on, now that I’m 62. I’ve been in the corps since 1979 – truly an old sea dog!”

Lt Cdr (SCC) Michelle Welsh MBE RNR, HQSO Vocational Qualifications

I have been with Sea Cadets nearly 39 years (including five as a cadet). In 1990, when I was the DofE Officer for Nottingham Unit, I passed my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. For the award, I built my own fibreglass canoe and used it to complete a paddling expedition from Nottingham to Barrow-on-Soar (against the current!). The highlight was going to Buckingham Palace and meeting Prince Philip. He was really interested in what I had achieved. It was an amazing day!”

CPO Rhiannon Jorey, SCTC Raleigh, Torpoint  

“I have been with Sea Cadets since I was 10, eventually becoming Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet in 2010. I was lucky enough to meet Prince Philip on four occasions. In 2011, I got a chance to speak with him. We discussed my future career goals and I remember him being impressed that I had set my sights on becoming a Warfare Officer. He transformed so many lives through the DofE scheme (including mine) and continues to be a source of inspiration.” 

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

One of the greatest legacies Prince Philip leaves is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, which has helped to bridge the gap between formal education and national service. Since it was introduced in 1956, it has helped millions of young people in 145 countries around the world to be more confident, learn new skills and improve resilience – as well as their career prospects. 

Here’s what some cadets and ex-cadets who have taken part in the Awards had to say about the experience and its impact on their lives:

“It has given me motivation to get away from being in front of a screen, to go out and achieve my goals. Going off on a paddling adventure is a brilliant way to spend any weekend!”
Cadet Freyja (14)

“It’s a fantastic scheme! It has helped me to stay focused and reach my Royal Navy fitness test goal.”
Leading Cadet Miles (16)

Cadets from Brentwood Unit taking part in their Bronze DofE

“Throughout the pandemic, I‘ve been volunteering with the elderly and vulnerable, which was inspired by the volunteering section of my Silver Award. As a result, I was also awarded a BEM for services to the community.”
PPO Apple-Jane Hayward

“When I started my DofE aged 14, I wasn’t really thinking much about my future. It gave me the courage to get out of my comfort zone and that being deaf didn’t hold me back from achieving my goals. It also led me to train as a doctor. It was absolutely worth it!”
Ex-cadet Morgan Hina, medical student

“When I competed for my Gold Award at the age of 19, I was very nervous yet excited. Since then, I have joined the British Army. I wouldn’t have been this resilient and confident if I hadn’t taken part in the scheme.”
Ex-cadet Tara Kelly, Bombadier, King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery

Tara with her mum, receiving her Gold DofE Award

More Features

Cadets perform field work

Out in the field

Royal Marines Cadets offers young people a different kind of experience, building on the nautical adventure of Sea Cadets with more land-based skills

Musselburgh Sea Cadets hold up their Pride flag

Helping hands

Cadets are committed to helping others. See how some units around the country support their local communities in different ways

Port Edgar Boat Station

Grand opening

Port Edgar Boat Station has been officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal, ready to offer life changing adventures to young people