The Duke of Edinburgh continued to regularly use the same pair of black leather shoes he wore on his wedding day for the rest of his life, MailOnline can reveal.
Prince Phillip first wore the shoes when he married the future Queen on 20th November 1947 at Westminster Abbey – and continued to use them on formal occasions for over 70 more years.
His enduring fondness for the 1940’s shoes was revealed by CBI president Lord Karan Bilimoria who has paid a warm tribute to his close friend.
In a glowing and affectionate tribute, Lord Bilimoria also explained how the down-to-earth Duke preferred a humble beer to more fancy wines and Champagne.
He told MailOnline: ‘He told me once that he was wearing the shoes from the day that he got married.
‘We were next to each other and tying up our laces when he told me that those were the same shoes from his wedding day. It was amazing.
The Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Elizabeth Windsor tied the knot at Westminster Abbey in 1947. For the occasion, Prince Philip wore a pair of smart black shoes, pictured above
Fast forward 64 years to an event in 2011 (pictured above) and the Duke told his friend CBI president Lord Karan Bilimoria (left) that he was in the same shoes as his wedding day
‘Who knows how many times they would have been re-soled or repaired? But they were the original shoes. They were traditional black leather shoes. He had had those shoes literally for more than 60 years.
‘And that is because of his sentimentality. It was that genuineness which was ever present.
‘It just shows what a wonderful person he was. He showed what a wonderful husband he was too.
‘He was always one step behind the Queen at functions. He was absolutely perfect in what he did. He was a great support for her and was also a great leader. He had it all.
‘He has been the most extraordinary husband, consort, champion, supporter and a rock to Her Majesty. In fact he has been the embodiment of true service leadership.’
Lord Bilimoria, who founded Cobra Beer, and the Duke became close friends, a relationship that would endure for more than twenty years and see regular meeting as well as the exchange of letters about shared common interests.
Lord Bilimoria (above) paid a glowing tribute to his ‘down-to-earth and genuine’ friend
The shoe revelation came in 2011 when The Duke had been invited by Lord Bilimoria to the Zoroastrian Centre in London, which is based in an art-deco building in Harrow, and visitors were requested to remove their shoes.
After speeches and lunch and with the Prince about to depart, he and Lord Bilimoria sat side-by-side after retrieving their shoes – and it was then he revealed their provenance.
Lord Bilimoria went on: ‘I really got to know him and I was very fond of him. The moment we saw each other it was always big smiles and I just looked forward to seeing him every time I had the privilege of meeting him.
‘It was just wonderful. I could tell you story after story, but some of it, I just can’t quite frankly!’
He recalled how the Duke was always quick to grasp information and evaluate it.
‘In 2004 at the Royal Society of Arts, I was very lucky to be awarded the Albert medal, which was named after Prince Albert, who had been the president.
‘It was also the 250th anniversary of the RSA. The Duke of Edinburgh had also been president as his predecessor Prince Albert had been.
‘It was a big formal dinner and I was sitting next to him. The other medal was given to Jonathan Ives, the Apple chief designer, who received the Benjamin Franklin medal.
‘We were talking over dinner. And at that time the iPod was what he had just designed. The iPhone came later in 2007.
‘Prince Phillip had no idea what the iPod was and Jonathan explained that it was for music and so on.
‘And literally when Prince Phillip went up to make his speech and to present the medals, he spoke fluently about the iPod and about Apple technology. He had just picked that up in that conversation over dinner.
‘It was so impressive. He was so bright and very quick witted. All these sort of remarks he came up with, they were all quick draw. He was very sharp, very quick and very witty.
‘And I continued the good humour when he came to Zorastrian House to visit and was driven in a Range Rover.
‘The red carpet was rolled out to receive him. In my speech I said it was so wonderful to welcome him and see that he had arrived in a Parsi car. Because the Land Rover was owned by the Tatas who were Parsi. He loved that.
‘I would meet him at Buckingham Palace for the World Wildlife Fund and he was very knowledgeable about wildlife and the environment. He even knew all about India and the crisis that we had there with the vultures.
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip married on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey
‘He was well ahead of the time. I also engaged with him as a fellow university Chancellor. He was the Chancellor at Cambridge. We would interact through that.
‘When I became Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, he came to visit with the Queen and they opened our new dental centre which is on the old BBC pebble Mill site.
‘It’s a state of the art centre with 150 chairs for dental students to train on.
‘For some reason there was no alcohol being served so we could not drink beer. He was saying ‘where is the beer?’
He added: ‘He genuinely loved beer. At formal lunchtime events when everybody else was drinking wine, he would have his beer.
‘Sometimes he would look at me and say ‘I’ll have one of his’ (Cobra Beer). It has been served at Buckingham Palace from time to time.
‘He was always clever, witty and sharp. He had this wonderful sense of curiosity and was genuinely interested and very knowledgeable about things.
‘We would be smiling and laughing the whole time, but his achievements were incredible. I really believe that he served to lead. He lived that military motto to serve to lead.’
When Phillip retired from public life in 2017, Lord Bilimoria received a personal letter from him informing him about his lessened role.
They kept in touch by letter when the Duke and The Queen moved to Windsor during the pandemic.
‘During lockdown I wrote to him when they were in the bubble at Windsor castle. I told him that I wanted him to try my new King Cobra double fermented champagne bottled beer.
‘He said he would be very interested to sample this, but doubted that it would be possible to get it to him during this Corona crisis. But I did.’
Prince Philip passed away last Friday after 74 years of happy marriage to The Queen (pictured)
Lord Bilimoria (left) formed a close bond with Prince Philip during a 20-year friendship
The Duke also wrote to Lord Bilimoria on Windsor Castle letter headed paper saying he and the Queen ‘are very comfortably installed here, where I hope we can sit out the current hysteria.’
Phillip added: ‘I do hope that you have not been too badly affected by the present situation. Yours, as ever, Phillip.’
The CBI chief added: ‘How sweet of him. This was not a standard stock reply, that is what he was like.
‘I would always come away from meeting him inspired by him.
‘I was just so lucky to have known somebody like this who was so kind to me for around two decades. He always left me with a smile.
‘This with somebody I looked forward to seeing. And whenever I left I couldn’t wait to see him again. I learnt from him and he was always interested in what I was doing. He was clever, witty and had a great sense of humour.
‘He was a great sportsman, father, grandfather and great grandfather.
‘His range of interests were vast and he was unfailingly curious about everything. And of course, every single time we met, he made you laugh and made you smile with that twinkle in his eye and witty, sharp sense of humour.
‘His achievements are enormous and perhaps his greatest initiative was the Duke of Edinburgh scheme which has changed the lives of 6.7 million young people around the world since it was founded, including my brother Nadir in India who has always been proud of his DofE Gold award in 1980.’
He said he had nominated the Prince to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his award scheme in helping nearly seven million children across the world.
‘It would have been hugely well deserved,’ he said. ends