Princess Anne visited the Island on Wednesday, just days after the death of her father, the Duke of Edinburgh, and her first public appearance since the news broke of his death on Friday.
The Princess, dressed in a navy jacket and black trousers, visited the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes and the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Fishbourne.
Although the Royal Family are officially still in mourning, the Princess Royal was given permission by the Queen go ahead with the previously arranged visit to the two yacht clubs, because it was in support of the Duke of Edinburgh’s interests.
The Royal Yacht Squadron held many happy memories for Prince Philip, aged 99. He was Admiral there as well as president of the Royal Yachting Association, a position now held by Anne, and for 50 years attended the annual Cowes Week sailing regatta.
Jamie Sheldon, Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron, recalled the duke’s last visit six years ago, before he retired from public duties, when he “spoke without a note for 12 or 15 minutes”.
Praising Philip’s “wonderful and long association” with the Island, he added: “And what was his passion? Youth and sailing – and this is our day.”
The Princess, 70, recalled how much her father had liked visiting the Island and encouraging young people to sail. She also shared early memories of learning to sail and attending regattas with her father and his late friend Uffa Fox, an Isle of Wight-based boat designer.
She added that her father used to stay on the Royal Yacht Britannia during Cowes Week. She said: “Days out were great fun. You can understand why he was here regularly.”
She also went out on the water to watch young sailors undergoing instruction.
The princess left the club on a motor yacht called Warrior around midday before arriving at Royal Victoria Yacht Club. The visit was part of its 175th anniversary celebrations and she unveiled a plaque there.
While she was there, she was asked to sign the visitors’ book, as her parents had done on July 26, 1965, and joked that months of lockdown had made her rusty, saying: “I haven’t done this in such a long time I’ve forgotten how to do it.”
Princess Anne will be at Windsor Castle tomorrow (Saturday) for the Duke’s funeral.
The Island’s Lord-Lieutenant, Susie Sheldon, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Princess Royal’s visit to the Isle of Wight in support of Youth Sailing, a project very close to the heart of the Duke of Edinburgh. She has followed in his footsteps as a frequent visitor at the Royal Yacht Squadron and she was able to watch their youth training programme before continuing on to support Youth Sailing at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. While at sea she was also able, briefly, to observe UKSA students out training.”
Writing in today’s IW Observer, Mrs Sheldon says of Prince Philip: “He was always known for his wit and charm. He was also incredibly modest and would never have bored people with tales of his good works. He will be widely mourned and my thoughts are with The Queen and her family at this sad time.”