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Prince Philip 'very randy', former Royal Navy colleague reveals

The Duke of Edinburgh has met his match, an outspoken, elderly man who is quick with a quip and described his former Royal Naval colleague as a "randy" young officer.

Ex-naval commander Keith Evans, 97, who served alongside Philip in the late 1940s, joked about the Queen's consort when he visited his old school.

Mr Evans was a pupil at Pangbourne College in Berkshire and the Duke, who surprised the world with his retirement announcement last week, visited the institution with the Queen to mark its centenary.

When he met the Duke they reminisced briefly about their service together and he showed Philip a letter the Duke had written to him in 1947, thanking Mr Evans for his note congratulating him on his engagement to the then Princess Elizabeth.

When asked about his recollections of the 95-year-old Duke, Mr Evans replied: "He was a bit randy but you had better not put that down.''

The former naval commander was questioned further about his quip and willingly agreed to be quoted and, in a move worthy of the Duke himself, said the word "very'' should be inserted before randy.

"Like Prince Philip, I'm standing down from most things in August," he joked.

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In an apparent reference to the Queen, Mr Evans said about the Duke's decision to give up public duties from the autumn: "I think it is rather good news.

"He will do what he wants rather than what she tells him to do.''

Mr Evans served alongside Philip in 1947 on HMS Royal Arthur, an in-shore naval base in Corsham, Wiltshire in 1947.

He said later about the Duke: "He was 18 months (my) junior. He was a lieutenant. I was about to be promoted to lieutenant commander.

"He was then Lieutenant Mountbatten, they had got rid of all that Greek nonsense."

Philip had joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and during the Second World War rose through the ranks, becoming one of the youngest officers in the Royal Navy to be made First Lieutenant and second-in-command of a ship, HMS Wallace.

In February 1947 Philip renounced his rights to the Greek throne and became a British subject, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, by the summer his engagement to Princess Elizabeth was announced and the couple married in November that year.

Nestled in rolling fields on the outskirts of the Berkshire town of Pangbourne, the fee-paying school has been visited by the Queen four times in the past with her first coming in 1943, when Princess Elizabeth with her father George VI.

The school was founded in 1917 by shipowner and shipbroker Sir Thomas Lane Devitt as the Nautical College, Pangbourne near Reading.

His vision was to prepare boys to be officers in the Merchant Navy but by 1969, with the merchant fleet shrinking rapidly and many boys opting for university, the college shed much of the nautical training in favour of a more traditional academic focus and was renamed Pangbourne College.

When the royal couple arrived, the Duke stepped out first from the state limousine and he dutifully waited for the Queen and followed on behind her.

After meeting local dignitaries the royal couple attended the centenary service in the school's Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel then stayed for lunch.

Before watching a parade of the students Philip had a brief chat with the ex-Commander who also met the Queen.

Later Mr Evans described how he and a senior officer kept the Duke waiting when he wanted permission to visit his future father-in-law the king, to confirm he wanted to marry his daughter.

Cdr Evans recalled. "I happened to be secretary to the captain. The captain, who was a little mischievous, said to me, 'He is a bit junior to you. Let's keep him waiting in your office while we have a glass of gin.' Which we did."

The 97-year-old, who lives in Haslemere, West Sussex and is chairman of the HMS Hood Association, was also outspoken about his time at the college: "It was pretty bloody awful then," he said. "It's a bit better now.

"The standard of education was not good. The accommodation was in Nissen huts. But I made many friends."

Cdr Evans, who was not on the Hood when it was sunk by the Bismarck, added: "All of my friends were killed in the war. I got through the war, fortunately."

Despite last week's announcement that Philip is to retire from public life at the end of the summer, his Pangbourne outing - the fourth time he has visited the college - saw the duke on sprightly form.

He was chatty, alert, and as full of questions as ever, whether it was about the changes at the college since he was last there or the motif on the chains of office of the chairman of West Berkshire Council.

At one point he came to the aid of a damsel in distress warming the hands Deborah Puxley, wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, who had been standing in the cold waiting to meet the royal couple.

Mrs Puxley said: "It was my cold hands. He was so sweet. We shook hands, then he held my hands in both of his and said, 'You're freezing.'"

Thomas Garnier, the headmaster, said: "Prince Philip was on very good form. He was very lively, and very interested in the people he met, particularly the students.

"I thought that he had plenty of spirit still. I imagine that he could go on for a while. I did not get the impression that he was slowing down."

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