Nostalgia: June 1971: Duke of Edinburgh turns 50, apologises for sparking controversy

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On January 1, 2002, the Public Record Office released a note penned by the Duke of Edinburgh way back in 1971.

The missive was declassified under the so-called ‘30-year rule’. What is shows is an act of contrition by the Duke, who at the time was at the height of his powers and generally regarded as something of a poster boy for Brtiain.

In the note, the Duke apologise to Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath after making allegedly anti-Common Market comments at the height of the negotiations to take Britain into Europe. In the note he says he was appalled at the furore caused by his remarks made at a conference in Edinburgh in June 1971.

An article printed in the Evening Post on June 10, 1971, shows him as he turned 50.

He was dubbed by the Evening Post as “the biggest personality in Britain.” But the praise did not stop there. The article went on: “Impeccably royal but of a modest, even poor birth, he has risen through service” adding: “He is without doubt the greatest public relations officer we have had or are likely to have.” Even then he was noted for his forthright views, at one point blaming technology for creating a “nightmare planet.”

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