Arthur Grout, a Navy signalman who served with the Duke of Edinburgh during the Second World War, passed away at the age of 93. Mr Grout used secret codes to pass messages between the then Lieutenant Mountbatten and Princess Elizabeth in the early years of their courtship.
Mr Grout grew up in Taplow, where he was an avid Scout. He picked up Morse code and semaphore (a system of sending messages by holding arms or two flags in certain positions) and was recruited into the Navy when the war broke out. He was assigned to HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was travelling to the United States for repairs, and it was there that he met Philip Mountbatten.
The future Duke of Edinburgh joined the Royal Navy as a 17-year-old cadet in 1939. He attended the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth and first met the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth when the Royal Family visited the college aboard the King’s yacht. When the family departed, the story goes, Philip followed their ship out to sea in a small rowboat, rowing as hard as he could.
After a few years of active service, Lieutenant Mountbatten met Princess Elizabeth again when he attended a pantomime at Windsor Castle in 1943. The Princess was charmed by Philip’s wit and his war record, and the two began a correspondence. This is where Mr Grout came in – using the secret codes he had learnt as a scout, he passed messages from Princess Elizabeth to Philip, requesting his pleasure at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.
When the war ended, correspondence between the Lieutenant and the future Queen continued until their engagement in 1947. On the morning of their wedding, Philip was made the Duke of Edinburgh. He returned to the Navy immediately after their honeymoon and continued his naval career until 1951.
As for Arthur Grout, he went into scouting and established the 1st Lent Rise scout troop in Burnham. He eventually became the assistant district commissioner for the area, and after years of service, he was reunited with the Duke of Edinburgh, who presented him with the Silver Acorn Medal at Windsor Castle.
Mr Grout also spoke Prince Charles during the VJ Day celebrations in The Mall last year. “He had a pioneering spirit,” his son David said about his late father. “He was a grand old gentleman, to know him was to love him.”
Mr Grout is survived by his wife, Doris, and their three children. His funeral will take place this afternoon.