Prince Philip: Leonardo employees share memories of the Duke of Edinburgh

Employees working at aerospace engineering company Leonardo have been sharing their memories of HRH Prince Philip, whose passionate support for engineering and innovation has played an important role in celebrating key milestones for their business since 1954.

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 7:00 am

The Duke of Edinburgh, who famously said “Everything that wasn't invented by God is invented by an engineer” and strongly advocated for British engineering throughout his life, first visited the business in October 1954.

This occasion saw His Royal Highness open the company’s Edinburgh, Scotland-based Crewe Toll Lab block facility, which represented an important new investment in radar innovation at the time.

The Minister of State for Scotland attended the event along with high-ranking MoD officials, and the celebration featured a Spitfire flypast, as the site was originally built in 1943 for the rapid production of gyro gun sights for the Spitfire aircraft.

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HRH Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh visit to mark the official opening ceremony of business premises in Edinburgh 1954 (© Copyright Leonardo UK Ltd. )

The event coincided with the birth of airborne radar activity in Edinburgh, which was hugely significant for the business, since it marked the advent of a new avenue of fresh radar innovation in the post-war period.

He also accompanied the Queen when she opened the Company’s new facilities at South Gyle in 1980, then in the summer of 2001, the Duke returned to the Edinburgh site to open the newly refurbished Crewe Toll House.

Prince Philip would often use humour to break down barriers at formal events and at the time of the opening, at the time Jonathan Flint was managing director of the sensors systems division in Edinburgh.

He said: “I remember asking him a question and he corrected a minor grammatical error in my phrasing, then with a smile added ‘got be careful with the Queen’s English you know'. Well that told me, and I guess he had a point!”

Prince Philip at the official opening in 1954 (© Copyright Leonardo UK Ltd. )

In 2010, employees had another opportunity to meet the Duke of Edinburgh when the company was awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category.

Leonardo special advisor and former managing director Alastair Morrison said: “When we won the Queen’s award for Enterprise in 2010, we travelled to Buckingham Palace to receive the award. During the drinks reception, the Duke of Edinburgh recalled his visits to Crewe Toll and also showed an understanding of the Radar Cross Section, which presumably dated from his days as a Naval Officer.”

Audrey Black, procurement and commercial director at Leonardo who also attended the event added: “Prince Philip was so engaged in his discussion on the radar and it was clear that he was genuinely enthused by technology.”

Mark Stead, SVP radar and advanced targeting at the Company said: “After hearing employees’ stories this week, it is clear that HRH Prince Philip had a tremendous commitment to home grown engineering innovation. He showed a deep interest in the impact of engineering, not just for industry but in terms of the opportunities it can afford the next generation of talent. We join many people across the UK in celebrating his enormous contribution to British engineering and in creating real and lasting opportunities for the talent of tomorrow.”

The Duke of Edinburgh at the Crewe Toll House Royal opening (© Copyright Leonardo UK Ltd. )

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HRH Prince Philip in 1954 visiting Leonardo in Edinburgh (© Copyright Leonardo UK Ltd.)