Peter Rhodes on startled dogs, meeting the Prince and avoiding Glasgow in November

The importance of the unseen hyphen. The Duke of Edinburgh's passing was marked with “forty-one-gun salutes.” Unfortunately, in spoken broadcasts, this sounds like “forty one-gun salutes” which would be far less impressive.

Prince Philip – ahead of his time
Prince Philip – ahead of his time

Meanwhile, determined to dig up something negative and controversial, one news website offered the headline: “Dogs Startled by Gun Salutes in Plymouth .”

However, even the most ardent royal fan must have despaired at the massive TV overkill, particularly BBC1 and BBC2 simultaneously broadcasting the pre-recorded tributes, which smacked almost of wartime media control.

I didn't watch it and I don't know anybody who did. But the blanket coverage, followed by eight days of official mourning and re-arranging sporting events, has been over the top and merely feeds the resentment of anti-monarchists.

I interviewed the Duke of Edinburgh one sunny day in July 1988.

We had a sparky hour together in his study at Buckingham Palace to talk about his work with the World Wide Fund for Nature. It was an extraordinary meeting.

As a rule HRH avoided media questioning, especially by newspapers, but on this occasion his only stipulation was that no photographs were to be taken; the Palace also requested a broad outline of the subjects to be discussed.

But there were no pre-agreed questions and no request for copy approval before the interview appeared in print.

Thirty-three years on, my abiding memory is of Prince Philip's far-sighted warnings of global catastrophe, over-population, species loss and fossil fuels, which he traced from the Industrial Revolution to the present day.

At the weekend I listened once again to my tape of our interview. What the Duke of Edinburgh was saying in 1988 is what the rest of the world is saying today.

My other memory is of a servant bringing a tray of coffee and biscuits, with a bowl of coloured crystal rock sugar, to the Duke's study. He left us and the Duke poured our coffee. My tale for the grandchildren.

It is important to get an organisation's name right. I am indebted to Wikipedia for this: “World Wide Fund for Nature: Not to be confused with World Wrestling Federation.”

Greta Thunberg, says she won't be attending the Glasgow COP26 climate conference later this year. She says it's a protest because, owing to the pandemic, “not everyone can take part on the same terms.” I admire her principles.

Another good reason for staying away is that, hand on heart, who really fancies ten perishing days in November in Glasgow, a city by-passed by global warming?

If you thought being a foreign ambassador in London was all about tempting your party guests with posh chocolates, consider the sorry figure of Kyaw Zwar Minn, the ambassador for Myanmar, locked out of his London embassy by colleagues who support the generals' coup back home.

I bet he hopes his erstwhile minions find the embassy's secret stash of Ferrero Rochers and eat themselves sick.

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