How Prince Philip's passion for carriage driving helped him break down barriers

The Duke of Edinburgh had a range of hobbies but he excelled in this unlikely sport

 Prince Philip's passion for carriage driving, Prince Philip, In Deep Concentration, Competing In The Cross Country Section Of The International Carriage Driving Grand Prix Championships At The Royal Windsor Horse Show.
(Image credit: Tim Graham / Contributor Getty)

Prince Philip's hobby of carriage driving helped him break down barriers, according to the Duke himself.

The Queen's husband first took up the sport in 1971, when his age forced him to stop playing polo and as one of the hobbies he most excelled at, the Duke previously revealed how hobbies helped unite people.

"If you have a common interest, nobody cares a damn where you come from or who you are," he once told gardener Alan Titchmarsh, as they discussed his passion for carriage driving during a special Diamond Jubilee broadcast, All The Queen's Horses.

While the Queen is more likely to receive a best jewellery making kit to do in her free time, the Duke loved to be outdoors and carriage driving was a sport which he carried on doing into his final years and even shared his passion with his great-grandson Prince George, as Prince William breaks silence to pay tribute to his grandfather Prince Phillip with the sweetest photo.

Carriage driving involves four-wheeled carriages being pulled by horses and it was the activity in which the keen sportsman particularly excelled. it became one of his favourite pastimes later on in life, up until his death aged 99.

Speaking at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, where he was a regular competitor, Prince Philip's passion for carriage driving was unplanned, he said "I started driving because I’d been playing polo and I decided I would give up polo when I was 50. And I was looking around to see what next and what there was available. And I suddenly thought we’ve got horses and carriages so why don’t I have a go?"

But unable to just sit back and have a go, the Duke's competitiveness of the activity helped it become an international sport by developing the rules, and was instrumental in getting the three-day event included in the Windsor Show in the 1970s.

And it seems the Prince wanted to be treated as a sportsman just like everyone else, according to Dick Lane, who was based near Guildford. He said, "He still was on the rules committee in this country and also he would steward at events. He would come along and he would time keep an obstacle element – he was like one of the lads really."

And while the sport enabled Prince Philip to be 'one of the lads' he often lost his patience.

Mr. Lane said, "There was a big social side when you go away to these competitions and he would stand and have a beer with anybody, with his fellow competitors especially if they were away competing representing the country. He would like to be one of the lads really and treated as such."

Drawing parallels with royal life when competing in the sporting arena participants can be judged every time they put a foot wrong - on one occasion in Windsor the Duke lost control of the ponies and his patience.

The Duke was thrown from the carriage along with his groom but thankfully he emerged uninjured.

Selina Maycock

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 15 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She has covered all things Entertainment for GoodtoKnow, Woman&Home and My Imperfect Life. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand.