Britain’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who died at the age of 99 last month, has made some memorable royal visits to India. The queen visited India three times while on the throne: in 1961, 1983 and 1997. She rode many elephants, posed in front of a dead tiger shot by her husband and waved to Indians from countless convertibles.
During his visit to India in 1961, he was photographed with the queen and the maharajah and maharani of Jaipur with a dead eight-foot tiger that he had shot during a hunt. It happened to be the same year that he became chairman of the UK’s World Wildlife Fund.
The queen seems far less pleased with herself as she poses with the Maharaja of Jaipur, family and friends in Ranthambhore, India, in 1961.
Prince Philip had gone ahead with the hunt, despite protests from British and Indian politicians. The Duke also shot a crocodile and six mountain sheep on that trip.
In 1961, the same year he became chairman of the WWF’s British National Campaign, he and the Queen took part in a tiger and rhino hunt during a royal tour of Nepal, riding elephants through Meghauli in the company of King Mahendra. . .
More surprising still, they posed wearing safari suits with the body of an eight-foot tiger in Ranthambore, India, that same summer with the Maharaja of Jaipur, who was seen with a crocodile and six mountain sheep allegedly killed by Philip.
“In 1961 India, the tiger was still considered a pest and a highly desirable trophy,” royal biographer Robert Hardman explained in his book Queen of the World (2018).
“There was certainly no secret about the exercise. Day and night, the queen, the duke and their hosts waited on a machine or a tree platform while 200 explorers scoured the jungle. Finally, on his third outing, the duke caught a tigress just as it was time to return to Delhi.”
Over the past 35 years, Prince Philip has killed many kinds of animals. Figures compiled from press reports by the anti-blood sports lobby group suggest that in Britain alone he has shot at least 30,000 pheasants.
He has also killed deer, rabbits, hares, mallards, snipes, woodcocks, teals, pigeons and partridges in the UK.
“There was certainly no secret about the exercise. Day and night, the Queen, the Duke and her hosts waited on a machine or tree platform while 200 scouts scoured the jungle below. Finally, on his third outing, the duke caught a tigress just as it was time to return to Delhi.”
His skin was later shipped to his home at Windsor Castle.
Prince Philip later snapped at a reporter who brought up the episode and insisted the tiger was lame and simply put out of its misery.
He was also an advocate of fox hunting and supported fowl hunting on the British moors, saying that it was necessary to “farm” those species, while emphasizing: “You don’t want to exterminate them”.
He explained this apparent mixed message in an interview with the BBC’s Fiona Bruce in 2011, vehemently refuting her suggestion that he might identify with the “green” movement.
“I think there is a difference between caring about nature conservation and being a rabbit hugger,” he stressed.
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