Prince Philip: a campaigner for fairness in housing

As well as being the longest-living consort in history, carrying out thousands of royal engagements, Prince Philip was involved with hundreds of charities and created the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which is now active in 144 countries.

A little-known fact is that Prince Philip was also an important advocate for social housing. During the 1970s he was Patron of the National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents housing associations. He chaired its AGM meetings, helped to campaign for reform and opened countless new housing developments. In his recent blog, Lord Richard Best who was Director of the NHF at the time, said that Prince Philip “came a time when we needed all the help we could get to grow the tiny social housing sector. HRH gave us status and gravitas.”

Notably, the Prince chaired the The Duke of Edinburgh’s Inquiry into British Housing (1985). The Inquiry made a number of recommendations aimed at supporting lower income families – some of which were adopted by subsequent governments. When Lord Best wrote a follow-up report five years after the Inquiry, he asked Prince Philip to write the foreword. “I expected two or three paragraphs. Instead, he provided five pages of his own stimulating and supportive insights.”

Over the years Lord Best kept in touch with Philip. When he wished the Prince a happy 90th birthday, an appreciative response came back which said: ‘Quite how I have managed to reach this great age – still with a few marbles – is a mystery’.

It’s true to say that Philip’s life was devoted to public duty. He reportedly carried out more than 20,000 solo public engagements and was patron, president or member of around 750 organisations before retiring in 2017 at the age of 96.

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