Duke of Edinburgh recalls 'smashing' time in carriage driving

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The Duke of Edinburgh has joked how the rough and tumble of carriage driving left his "Balmoral dog cart" smashed up regularly.

In his first interview since he announced his retirement, Philip told how he took up the sport of carriage driving when he gave up polo aged 50.

Speaking to Misdee Wrigley Miller, a US contestant in this year's Royal Windsor Horse Show, the Duke said: "All the carriages were antiques and we had a thing called the Balmoral dog cart, it's still in the stable, it had to be rebuilt every year because it got smashed up regularly."

Philip was instrumental in helping to establish the sport and took part well into his 80s but gave up competitions some years ago.

He said: "I started driving because I'd been playing polo, and I decided I'd give up polo when I was 50.

"I was looking round to see what next, I didn't know what there was available.

"And I suddenly thought, well, we've got horses and carriages so why don't I have a go.

"So I borrowed four horses from the stables in London, took them to Norfolk and practised and thought - why not?" 

The Duke described how he convened a committee of equestrian experts to come up with a set of international rules for the fledgling sport of carriage driving.

And after the problems of his carriage being smashed up when competing, Philip said he had one built by the mechanical workshops at Sandringham which was "indestructible".

Asked about his special memories from his competing days, the casually-dressed Duke, who was interviewed at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, joked: "Turning over here in the water."

He was also quizzed on what he enjoyed most about the individual elements of the carriage competition and replied laughing: "I didn't have a favourite, we just had to get through them.

"They were all fun. I mean - it so happened, I don't know why - but I always did rather well at dressage. I didn't manage the obstacles very well."

Asked about what it was like competing on the British team, Philip said: "Oh it was great fun, yes - we went all over the place. I went to Hungary twice, to Poland, the Netherlands - it was very entertaining."