Trinc chief’s relief at Duke’s recovery

The Duke of Edinburgh during his 2009 visit to Hartlepool.
The Duke of Edinburgh during his 2009 visit to Hartlepool.
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PRINCE Philip’s vast improvement in health has been welcomed by the relieved boss of a historic ship.

David McKnight, general manager of the HMS Trincomalee Trust, welcomed the news that HRH Duke of Edinburgh, who is the trust’s patron, is on the mend following hospital treatment for a blocked artery.

Mr McKnight said trust members had felt a mixture of emotions including “concern” and “relief” since the Royal health scare was announced on Friday.

The Duke was in Hartlepool in 2009 and gave the Royal seal of approval to a series of improvements to the vessel, which is based at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience.

The Duke, now 90, had spent an hour inspecting the ship, under the guidance of its Captain, David Smith OBE, before officially opening the a new exhibition centre at the marina-based tourist attraction.

Mr McKnight said he was “really worried” when news broke out late on Friday that the Duke had taken ill.

He added: “It’s been a mixture of emotions – concern at the Duke’s hospitalisation and relief that he has been successfully treated and able to return to Sandringham and enjoy Her Majesty and the family’s Christmas and new year celebrations.

“As a trust, we would like to wish His Royal Highness a full and speedy recovery.

“We are looking forward to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.”

Mr McKnight said it was a huge honour to have the Duke as patron of the trust, which manages the 194-year-old Trincomalee, the oldest British warship afloat and the last of the commissioned frigates of the Nelson era.

The Duke has been patron since 1992, when the trust’s name was changed from The Foudroyant Trust.

Mr McKnight said: “It’s hugely prestigious and important but even more so because of Prince Philip’s naval links and true interest.

“His patronage is almost a professional one.

“His interest in all matters navy and the maritime history of this country is well-known.

“To combine that with patronage of HMS Trincomalee is great for us.”

He said he had found the Duke to be “very friendly, with a huge interest in what we do”.

He added: “He is a very likeable and genuine man.

“He says what he thinks, which is well-documented. He is a thoroughly nice man.”

During his visit, the Duke had recalled previously seeing the Trincomalee in Portsmouth in an “awful state” but praised the “impressive” work that had been done to restore the vessel, which was built in Bombay in 1817.

Prior to his visit in 2009, the Duke was last in Hartlepool in 2000.

The Duke has spent a belated Christmas with his family after being discharged from hospital on Tuesday after undergoing a stent procedure.

He missed the Royals’ traditional Christmas Day trip to church, this year attended for the first time by the Duchess of Cambridge, and the Boxing Day shoot.