Memories of the Duke of Edinburgh at the 2009 Blackpool Royal Variety Performance

H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Following the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, there are many memorable moments of his time in the North West.

Derek Richards, 62, met the late Duke in December 2009, when he and the Queen visited the Opera House Theatre to attend that year’s Royal Variety Performance.

Reflecting, Mr Richards said: “I waited for hours to get a glimpse of the Queen and the Duke, and I tell you what; I wasn’t disappointed.

“I could see them both approaching the main entrance, and I was within touching distance of them and suddenly Prince Philip turned to me and jokingly said, ‘Have you really come here for the show or to see us?’

“I replied back, ‘To be honest sir, it’s a bit of both really!’, which was the truth as I had bought tickets for the night.”

Mr Richards’ first impression of the Duke was that he was very abrupt and forthright; yet funny and someone who tried to make conversation to make people feel comfortable.

The 2009 Royal Variety Performance in Blackpool featured artists and stars from Lady Gaga to Jason Manford, and was hosted by Bolton comedian Peter Kay.

The late Prince Philip meeting with comedian Frank Carson at the 2009 Royal Variety Performance. Photo by Associated Press.

Mr Richards added: “After I told him I had come for the show and to see them, he said, ‘That’s very kind of you but God knows why you’d want to see us, we’re always on the telly’, and at that point I just started to burst out with laughter.”

Before his retirement from formal royal duties in 2017, Prince Philip was described as being a ‘gaffe-machine’ and someone who would always make the odd, off-the-cuff remark – sometimes causing genuine offence.

After dying at the age of 99 at Windsor Castle on April 9, Prince Philip’s funeral will take place on Saturday April 17.

The Duke of Edinburgh was Britain’s longest-serving royal consort, and the longest-lived male member of the British royal family.

On his death, Mr Richards stated: “I’m not surprised it’s happened, because he was really ill and frail, but I am shocked that it has finally happened and the Queen is now a widow.

“I hope they give him a good send off, and that they play ‘I Vow To Thee, My Country’ at the funeral – I think that would be a fitting end to a great era.”