Ex-police officer remembers 'hiding in the bushes' to protect Prince Philip on visits to North East

A former policeman and county councillor has paid tribute to Prince Philip, calling it a ‘privilege’ to guard him during visits to the North East.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, pictured in 2016. (Photo by EDDIE MULHOLLAND/AFP via Getty Images)Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, pictured in 2016. (Photo by EDDIE MULHOLLAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, pictured in 2016. (Photo by EDDIE MULHOLLAND/AFP via Getty Images)

Tursdale, in County Durham, was previously a popular spot for the Royal Train to park overnight during tours of the UK or while the Royal Family was travelling to and from Scotland.

And Cllr Alan Bainbridge, who spent almost 30 years with Durham Constabulary, was regularly called on to provide security during its visits.

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He said: “Officers used to guard the train during the night and it was a great privilege to be looking after them.

“We kept a low profile, we didn’t go walking by the carriage, we used to walk around and hide in the bushes, making sure everything was safe and secure.

“We had the privilege of making sure nothing untoward occurred – there were never any problems, I’m pleased to say.”

The Royal Family has confirmed the Queen’s husband died on April 9 at Windsor Castle aged 99.

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The former Royal Navy officer, who married the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947, officially retired from royal duties in 2017.

When guarding the Duke of Edinburgh, Cllr Bainbridge, who retired from the force in 2000 after 26 years service, said he was under strict instructions to be ‘more or less covert’ and not allow himself to be spotted by the visiting royals.

He believes this is because the famously independent prince ‘didn’t want people to be standing out all night just because he was there’.

Born Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark in 1921, he had four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

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The prince, who was the longest-serving consort in British history, had returned to Windsor Castle in March following a stay in hospital in London.

His funeral is expected to be held in the castle’s St George’s Chapel, although final details are yet to be confirmed.

“It’s sad that he’s no longer with us,” Cllr Bainbridge added.

“He has been steadfast and a pillar, not just for the Queen, but for the rest of the country as well.”

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Cllr Bainbridge represents Durham County Council’s Chester-le-Street South ward and is due to stand for re-election in local elections on May 6.

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