SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

The Duke of Edinburgh

My favourite Prince Philip moment: Feeding the elephants bananas at Whipsnade Zoo

As part of our obituary coverage marking the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Royal Central team are reliving some of their favourite moments involving His Royal Highness. In this article, Editor-in-Chief Charlie Proctor talks us through his most memorable moment.

I have been a royal reporter for eight years now, having started writing about the British Royal Family in 2013. During that time, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has been at the forefront of our coverage. From his memorable royal duties, his retirement, and eventually his death, Prince Philip has provided our readers with many happy, and indeed sad, memories.

It is incredibly difficult to choose just one stand out moment from his 70 years of public service. It would be all too easy to write about his 90th birthday, or his many gaffes, so I am going to select something a little bit different, and perhaps unexpected.

My favourite Prince Philip moment was when he and The Queen fed elephants bananas at Whipsnade Zoo.

This is my highlight because it is an engagement which the Duke clearly enjoyed, and, as I explain below, it is an engagement that is in retrospect very poignant.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Whipsnade Zoo  in on 11 April 2017 – four years to the week before his death.

Prince Philip, aged 94 at the time, joined The Queen, 89, to open a new £2m Centre for Elephant Care at the zoo.

As part of the visit, The Queen and Prince Philip managed to get close and personal with the majestic creatures, feeding an elephant called Donna some tasty bananas.

Little did we know at the time that this would be one of The Queen and Prince Philip’s last joint engagements, with the Duke announcing his retirement from royal duties a couple of months later.

For me, their visit to Whipsnade Zoo marked the end of an era. The couple concluded their working life together in the same way as they started it – alongside elephants.

Elizabeth and Philip were living in Treetops Hotel, Kenya, when King George VI unexpectedly died, making Princess Elizabeth monarch. Treetops lies in the path of an ancient elephant migratory route, with the couple living alongside elephants and other African creatures during their stay.

Throughout his life, Prince Philip took an interest in the environment and the protection of animals. He will be remembered as a champion of endangered species, elephants included.

This is why The Queen and Prince Philip’s visit to Whipsnade Zoo is one of my favourite royal moments. It was a rare opportunity where we saw both Her Majesty and His Royal Highness with pure delight on their face as they met the animals.

But the poignancy of the occasion is what makes this visit so special. As one of his final royal duties, Prince Philip’s career ended where it began – being alongside his wife of seven decades and some of the most majestic animals to grace our earth.