Promoting engineering


Prince Philip took a great personal interest in the development of engineering in the UK. In 2009, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh wrote for Ingenia about the promotion of engineering and the importance of encouraging and developing future engineers. Here, we republish his article, with an introduction from former Editor-in-Chief, Dr Scott Steedman CBE FREng, detailing how the article came into being.

As a young Naval officer, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh developed a keen interest in engineering that continued throughout his life. His support for the concept of a national academy for engineering, distinct from the Royal Society, was pivotal to the foundation of the Fellowship of Engineering in 1976, renamed the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1992. Following a conversation I had with Prince Philip at the Academy Awards Dinner in 2007, he kindly agreed to work on an article for Ingenia on the origins of his interest in engineering and technology. During an audience at Buckingham Palace, we discussed his early experiences as a Midshipman in the Royal Navy, when he was required to learn about ship propulsion and steering gear. He explained how he had become intrigued by how things worked through trying to sketch the different mechanical systems that controlled the ship. I asked whether we could publish one or more of these sketches, as this would bring the article to life for readers. He was adamant that his drawings would not be published as he said they were not very good and should not be seen. In the end he relented and his archivist, the late Dame Anne Griffiths DCVO, located his notebook and I chose the few you see on the next page. A second theme that emerged in our meeting was the importance of vocational training and apprenticeship as a route to qualifying as an engineer. He wanted to refer to specific innovations and to name one or two distinguished engineers whom he had met over the years. Communicating by fax, Prince Philip marked up my initial draft by hand and I incorporated his comments over three iterations to produce the article that follows. 

Please note, figures quoted in this article are from when the article was first published in 2009.

Read HRH The Duke of Edinburgh's original article.