‘I think it’s a tremendous loss:’ People in the Ky. horse community mourn death of Prince Philip

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 8:15 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2021 at 4:01 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Folks around the world and here in the Commonwealth are mourning the loss of Prince Philip. The Duke of Edinburgh attended more than 22,000 royal engagements in his life, and a few of those were here in Kentucky. One Mount Sterling woman said the prince’s death is a tremendous loss for the horse community.

As her royal consort, Prince Philip is remembered for always standing by Queen Elizabeth II’s side. In 2007, the royal couple landed on this Commonwealth’s soil. The horse racing fans attended the Kentucky Derby together.

But, it’s the Duke of Edinburgh’s solo appearance in Lexington that horsewoman Edith Conyers will always remember fondly.

“He was the president of the FEI, which is the Federal Equestrian International, which governs the 78 world championships,” Conyers said.

At the time, a brand new Kentucky Horse Park was host to the 1978 World Three-Day Event Championship.

“He was very passionate about...carriage driving, which he did competitively for years and years. I followed him when I was young,” Conyers said. “When it came time to put this particular event on, I knew a lot about him because like a lot of people, we follow him, and I knew that he might be coming, it was special.”

Conyers said the crowd went wild each time the prince graced the field.

“Every time he walked award a trophy, they would just clap and applaud and were just thoroughly thrilled he was there,” Conyers said.

She treasures a photo of her daughter, Elizabeth Conyers, with the duke.

“She was eight years old at the time. We had been trying to figure out how we could do the awards ceremony. We decided to use kids as part of it to carry the trophies… him looking at her, I think worrying she might drop the platter,” Conyers said.

Conyers said Prince Philip was more than a figurehead, he was devoted to his role as FEI president.

“I think it’s a tremendous loss because he was such an avid advocate for all horse sports, it wasn’t just driving,” Conyers said.

She said she joined the duke on his car ride back to the airport when it was over.

“He complimented the process of the event and how well it had come off, which, of course, made me feel good because myself, along with thousands of volunteers put it on,” Conyers said.

She said beyond the monarchy, he was a horseman and a gentleman.

“He was very easy to talk to, he was very relaxed, he was really just a pleasant man to spend some time with,” Conyers said.

Conyers said the once highly-involved FEI president stepped back in his older age, but she said she knows his passion for horses was still in his heart.

Buckingham Palace has asked the public to keep from gathering outside of the royal residences to be in line with government guidance in the UK. The Royal Family has asked people to donate to a charity in the duke’s honor instead of leaving flowers. Funeral plans haven’t been announced yet.

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