The passing of the Duke of Edinburgh is a sad time for our nation.
Prince Philip had a life-long record of public service to The Queen, to our country and to the many organisations he supported. It is a record that is second-to-none and my thoughts are with Her Majesty, the Royal Family and Prince Philip’s many friends at this time.
Prince Philip’s role as consort to The Queen is his best-known contribution to our nation’s life but there was much more to this exceptional man. He was part of a generation which suffered the privations and dangers of war as a serving officer in the Royal Navy, where he was commended for his bravery in action.
He was an active member, patron or President of around 780 organisations and founded the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme helping young people move forward in their lives and careers. That scheme alone made a difference to the lives of millions. His environmental work over many decades, his championing of conservation of the natural world, helped change worldwide opinion.
But while celebrating his record of service we should remember that he was a family man. As we mourn the passing of an outstanding national figure his family mourn the passing of so much more; a husband of 73 years, a companion, a mentor to generations, a source of support to his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
It is right at this moment of national mourning that election campaign is suspended and I have asked that local campaigning by the Conservative Party for the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner elections and the Bilton and Nidd Gorge county council by election be suspended. I know that other parties will want to join in observing this suspension too as a mark of respect for this formidable, long-serving, brilliant public servant.