Right into his 90s, the Duke of Edinburgh continued to drive his team of fell ponies around the royal estates from the box seat of a carriage he designed himself.
He took up the sport of carriage driving in his 50s when what he called his “dodgy” arthritic wrist forced him to give up polo playing, and continued competing into his 80s. In more recent years he could still be seen driving, reins in hand, just for fun.
His horse-drawn wheeled carriage and his black fell ponies, Balmoral Nevis and Notlaw Storm, both born in 2008, will be a poignant feature of his funeral. The polished dark green four-wheeled carriage, accompanied by two of Philip’s grooms, will stand in the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle as the duke’s coffin is carried past in a procession on a Land Rover hearse.
The carriage was built to his specifications eight years ago and can seat four people and harness up to eight horses. It has two padded black leather seats and a clock mounted on brass at the front, presented by the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars in 1978 to mark his 25 years as their colonel-in-chief.
Philip had been designing driving carriages since the 1970s. “I am getting old, my reactions are getting slower, and my memory is unreliable, but I have never lost the sheer pleasure of driving a team through the British countryside,” he said in a book he authored about the sport.
Towards the end of the 1980s he ceased driving four-in-hand teams, but he continued to drive competitively with teams of ponies, eventually retiring from the sport in 2003, though he still took part non-competitively in his 90s.
The Countess of Wessex, in a tribute this week at Windsor, recalled that Philip had been “pulled out of a few ditches here, I seem to remember”.
Source: The Guardian