Belfast Telegraph

Hillsborough locals say they'll miss Duke... and his gaffes

By Victoria Leonard

His trademarks may be gaffes and gruffness, but Hillsborough residents say they will miss Prince Philip after the Queen's colourful consort announced he is to retire from royal duties.

Locals in the picturesque Co Down village feel a special connection to the 95-year-old Duke of Edinburgh, having often welcomed the royal patriarch and the Queen to Her Majesty's official Northern Ireland residence, Hillsborough Castle.

Yesterday's news from Buckingham Palace that the Prince has decided to stop carrying out public engagements from this autumn was therefore felt particularly keenly in the village which has become synonymous with royal garden parties.

Amanda Kitchingham of the Candy Plum clothes shop said villagers were proud of Prince Philip's links with Hillsborough.

"I think he has carried out his role in a very positive, very uplifting manner," she stated. "It was always a delight to see his visits with the Queen. He has been a great support to the royal family and had a part to play, but he has earned his retirement.

"Personally I think he should have been a bit more politically correct and diplomatic, sometimes the things he said made you cringe.

"It will be great to see the younger royals stepping up and taking over his duties. I would love to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge over here."

Sheila Beck, a receptionist at Gatsby&Beau hair salon, said the Duke of Edinburgh's visits had meant a lot to the community.

"He has been a great advocate for Hillsborough, it has always been brilliant as the primary schools get involved when he comes over and there's a great community spirit," she said.

"Everyone gets so excited, there's an absolute buzz about the place and a lot of people come to visit.

"I love his humour, he's straight to the point, which is quite refreshing, and he's so funny. Some of the things he has said were close to the knuckle; maybe it's an age thing, but he seems to get away with it.

"People might still see the Queen but they will miss him in the background."

Owner of Twigs and Twine Florist, Caroline Thompson, said she thought the Duke was doing the right thing for his health.

"He has got quite a strong opinion and a larger-than-life personality," she said.

"It will be a loss for the Queen as he has been a big support. Everybody has their time, now it's time for the younger royals to step forward."

Mimi Gorman of The Cheshire Cat toy shop paid tribute to the Duke's sense of duty.

"It can't have been an easy life being in a supporting role for all those years and he has done a very good job," she said.

"He has given us all things to laugh about from time to time! Occasionally he went too far, but you can't keep people totally under control all the time."

Merchant Hotel owner Bill Wolsey, who also owns The Hillside pub in the village, wished the Duke well in his retirement.

"If he has brought publicity to Hillsborough that's good, but no doubt his retirement is long overdue and I'm sure that whoever takes his place will bring the same amount of publicity," he stated.

"We all seem to put up with gaffes made by the royal family when other people would have been censured."

Owner of The Laundry Room, Ken McEntee, believes royal visits haven't always been good for the village.

"The visits were good as they brought people here, but no one could get into the village so it wasn't always good for business," he said.

"Most people are proud of the link with the royal family, but I wouldn't have thought Prince Philip stepping down would make much difference to people.

"If it was the Queen, it would have been felt more."

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