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Prince Philip on Genovesa
13/04/2021 History of Galapagos

Remembering HRH Prince Philip

Following the death of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) would like to express our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family on behalf of our members, staff, and present and past Trustees. His Royal Highness took an active interest in the Trust’s work and generously supported Galapagos Conservation Trust for many years.

Photograph of Clare Simm

Clare Simm

Former Communications Manager at Galapagos Conservation Trust

Prince Philip in Galapagos

Prince Philip visited the Galapagos Islands three times, in 1964, 1971 and in 1988. In 1964, he visited a number of islands on the Royal Yacht Britannia, including Genovesa. Prince Philip was one of the first people to climb the very steep and rocky 25 metre path from the landing point to the top of the cliff that leads off to the centre of the island and this was subsequently named Prince Philip’s Steps. He also stopped in Puerto Ayora to visit the newly built Charles Darwin Research Station. Following his visit to the Islands, Prince Philip become Patron of the Charles Darwin Foundation.

Prince Philip sitting in a car in Galapagos

Prince Philip (hatless, front seat) in a jeep (dubbed ‘El Poderoso’, ’The Powerful’) with Charles Darwin Research Station director Peter Kramer at the wheel, 1971 © CDF

Prince Philip was impressed by the Islands’ extraordinary natural riches but was also deeply concerned about the dangers threatening them. In his book Wildlife Crisis (1970) he wrote, “Perhaps the most fascinating expedition of all was a four-day visit to the Galapagos Islands, forever associated with Darwin’s great work, the Mecca of naturalists and a veritable paradise for bird – and animal – photographers. It is here, above all, that the whole problem of conservation becomes most obvious.”

Prince Philip at the top of steps on Genovesa Island looking at a bird

Prince Philip at Prince Philip’s Steps during his visit to Genovesa in Galapagos in 1971 © Günther Reck/CDF

Supporting GCT

He was a lifelong conservationist and became the first President of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the UK from 1961 to 1982. He went on to become President of WWF International from 1981 to 1996.  Shortly after the Galapagos Conservation Trust was created in 1995, Prince Philip took an active interest and became a regular supporter of the Trust’s work. In 2009, he attended a dinner hosted by GCT at Christ’s College, Cambridge to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, and in 2012, GCT’s former CEO, Ian Dunn, and former Chair, Dr Mark Collins, were invited to a half-hour audience with him at Buckingham Palace. Mark Collins commented that “Over tea, we enjoyed a most interesting, lively and searching conversation, with the Prince enquiring into all aspects of the Trust’s work and our relationships with the many organisations now working there [in Galapagos].”

Prince Philip speaking at a dinner to celebrate Darwin's 200th birthday

Prince Philip at a dinner hosted by GCT to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth © GCT

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh had a long-standing interest in nature and in 1961 launched WWF’s first national appeal to raise funds to save wildlife. The Palace has been encouraging the public to make charitable donations in his memory. If you would like to honour his conservation legacy and long-lasting fascination with the Galapagos Islands, please consider making a donation today – any donations made will support essential wildlife conservation in the Islands. 
GCT is very grateful to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh for his support of the Galapagos Islands since his first visit in the 1960s. He will be greatly missed.

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