Prince Philip: Cricket chairman and duke's friendship remembered

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media captionThe duke forged a strong friendship with Bill Edwards through a mutual love of cricket... and gin and tonic

As the nation mourns the death of Prince Philip, stories about the friendships he formed are being remembered - his close alliance with a cricket club chairman being one.

Bill Edwards was chairman of Wales Minor Counties Cricket Club and developed a close relationship with Cricket Wales' patron Prince Philip.

"They enjoyed their time together very much. They seemed to have a rapport, they could talk about anything," his wife Liz said, speaking to the BBC previously.

image captionBill Edwards (second from left) became friends with the duke through their love of cricket

Mr Edwards, from Mumbles, Swansea, died in 2009.

"They'd both been in war service, so there was always a bit of banter with that sort of conversation. They got on very well," she added.

image captionThe Duke of Edinburgh and Bill Edwards (far right) at a function

"There was one year between them and there was always a bit of vying about who was going to live the longest. Well, poor old Bill died first."

"They were very friendly," the club's former president, Graham Crimp said speaking to the BBC in 2018.

image captionPeggy Crimp shaking Prince Philip's hand at a cricket function

Mr Crimp, who has since died, added: "That friendship you would never think was with royalty and a normal person, but they were just that.

"[Prince Philip] used to like gin and Bill would have a gin, so they'd sit together and have a gin and tonic. And they used to get rid of quite a bit of gin and tonic."

"He enjoyed his drink, I think he enjoyed his food as well, his plate always looked empty," recalled Mrs Edwards.

One of those who attended several events with the duke was Peggy Crimp, wife of Graham.

Speaking to the BBC previously, she said: "As a person I found him very natural.

"He certainly wasn't royalty, put it that way."

Mrs Crimp, who has also since died, added: "He didn't want to be royalty. I think his naval days brought him down with one of the boys. He was very sociable."

image captionMrs Edwards has a collection of mementos from her time with the duke

Mr Crimp recalled an amusing episode at Swansea's Marriott Hotel the morning after a function: "Bill and Prince Philip went down in the lift and caused panic amongst the staff.

"They met in the lift and the duke said to Bill, 'Where are you going?' and he said, 'Down for breakfast', so the duke said, 'Right, I'll come with you'.

"So he went downstairs with Bill in this restaurant and the staff saw and that's when they started to waver a bit and he said 'Don't worry, I can serve myself, I'm not useless'.

"And that's what he did and they sat down together and had breakfast."

image copyrightFamily photo
image captionBill Edwards (centre) with the Duke of Edinburgh

Mrs Edwards recalled: "[The hotel staff] weren't actually sure if he was going to have his breakfast in the restaurant or in his room but all of a sudden he just turns up with Bill on his own with no sort of entourage or anything and enjoyed his breakfast."

As well as at cricket club events, Mr Edwards and the duke met at a garden party after Mr Edwards received an OBE at Buckingham Palace. Mr Edwards also once stepped in for the the lord lieutenant and met the duke at Swansea train station.

image captionThe duke wrote to Mrs Edwards when her husband died

Asked what the friendship meant to her husband, Mrs Edwards said: "Oh I think he loved it. He loved all of it really."

Mrs Edwards has built up a collection of letters from the duke and his private secretary, the late Brigadier Sir Miles Hunt-Davis, and photographs of their time with the duke. "They mean a lot," she said.

"I've kept them all and you have a little look every now and then."

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