There was sadness when I heard this afternoon of the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. My mind filled with thoughts of the remarkable work this iconic leader did to give so much hope to so many young people across the world: championing skills and adventure, supporting entrepreneurs and international trade, and bringing a smile to the faces of millions with wit that was at times far from politically correct.

It is hard to believe that one person was able to achieve so much during his near century on earth. He served as a military officer, decorated for his courage in World War Two, was an accomplished sportsman, and stood strong behind Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as the longest serving consort in history.        

The warmth and inspiration he instilled in others is impossible to measure. He possessed that remarkable leadership quality that cannot be defined or taught. I was one of millions of young budding businesswomen who experienced that unique affect he had people. In 2006, I was taken by surprise when the British Ambassador to Lithuania invited me to the Embassy to meet Prince Philip and receive a special award for organizing the first trade mission from the UK to my native Lithuania. I did not know at the time that the mission was a few weeks ahead of Her Majesty the Queen’s official visit to Lithuania, which was the first ever visit by a British Sovereign.

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Our Lithuanian office is opened during a trade mission, later recognised by the Monarchy

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh presents Jurga Zilinskiene
with an award on behalf of UK Trade & Investment, 2006

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Prince Philip could sense my nervousness. Here was I, a 29-year-old unknown British Lithuanian entrepreneur in an English Bespoke suite, talking to one of the most famous leaders on planet earth – and he was giving me the award! In that legendary style, he put me at ease instantly with a comment about my suit and asking if I liked Haggis. His straight-faced questioning with tongue in cheek manner calmed all nerves I had and made laughter irresistible. That one encounter did more than make me feel honoured, it made me feel valued. I felt respected for what I had done off my own bat to help boost trade and more importantly, I felt the Prince genuinely cared and wished me well in the future. When someone makes you feel that way, it goes to your heart and remains there forever, a fuel that powers you to work hard to do good again.

That was his influence on just one young lady from Lithuania, I cannot begin to image how many other countless souls on earth have been fuelled by the Prince’s extraordinary character. And I cannot begin to imagine the deep sense of loss that Queen Elizabeth, their children, and the Royal Family must be feeling with the passing of this great man for whom duty came before self.

On behalf of everyone at Guildhawk, I pass my sincere condolences to Her Majesty and her family at this difficult time and thank you for the wonderful inspiration that Prince Philip gave me.