Former Board chief recalls Prince Philip’s ‘wonderful humour’ at school opening
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Former Board chief recalls Prince Philip’s ‘wonderful humour’ at school opening

Jonathan Arkush remembers the royal opening of Hertsmere Jewish Primary School in Radlett in 2,000, at which the late prince was a 'master at making people laugh'.

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

  • Prince Philip with Jonathan Arkush (right) at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
    Prince Philip with Jonathan Arkush (right) at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
  • Prince Philip makes a joke at Hertsmere Jewish Primary's opening, which Rabbi Lord Sacks enjoyed! (Credit: David Katz)
    Prince Philip makes a joke at Hertsmere Jewish Primary's opening, which Rabbi Lord Sacks enjoyed! (Credit: David Katz)
  • Prince Philip at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
    Prince Philip at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
  • Prince Philip greeting Rabbi Lord Sacks at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
    Prince Philip greeting Rabbi Lord Sacks at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
  • Prince Philip with Rabbi Lord Sacks at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
    Prince Philip with Rabbi Lord Sacks at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
  • Prince Philip at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
    Prince Philip at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
  • Prince Philip in conversation with former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)
    Prince Philip in conversation with former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks at Hertsmere Jewish Primary (Credit: David Katz)

Prince Philip’s “mastery at making people laugh” has been recalled by the former president of the Board of Deputies, as he remembered the day the royal opened Hertsmere Jewish primary in Radlett.

Following the Duke of Edinburgh’s death aged 99 on Friday, Jonathan Arkush, who served as communal leader from 2015 to 2018, remembered the royal for his “wonderful sense of humour”.

Opening Hertsmere Jewish Primary School in 2000, Prince Philip “ was a wonderful guest, engaging brilliantly with the children and giving an off- the-cuff outstandingly witty speech,” said Arkush, who was a chair of governors of HJPS governor at the time.

“In my welcoming remarks I referred to our community’s everlasting gratitude and admiration for the Prince’s mother, Princess Alice, who rescued Jewish families from the Nazis in the Second World War. Prince Philip was visibly moved and wiped his eyes.”

Princess Alice is buried in Jerusalem, and is recognised as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

“The prince had a wonderful sense of humour. Seeing HJPS’s benefactor Stanley Cohen in a plaster cast around his foot, and referring to Stanley’s skill in fundraising, he joked that someone had obviously decided to get one back at Stanley when asked for a donation.”

Arkush said the Prince and Cohen “enjoyed a long friendship” and he “was very appreciative that Stanley chaired the Duke of Edinburgh Award Charitable Trust for a number of years”.

Jonathan Arkush

The former Board president also reflected on an interfaith event he attended, “where many clergy of all faiths were present.  Standing next to me in the reception line was the unmistakably rabbinic figure of Rabbi Hershel Gluck.

“The prince grinned at him mischievously and asked what he did. ‘I’m a rabbi’ the answer came back. Prince Philip pretended to roll his eyes to heaven and said “Another one!” He was a master at making people laugh.

“As I reflect on his passing, I recall the courage and righteousness of Princess Alice, and Prince Philip’s own record of friendship towards our community. I am grateful for his long life and saddened by his loss.”

Hertsmere Jewish Primary School told Jewish News: “We are deeply saddened to hear about the untimely passing of Prince Philiip.  He opened Hertsmere Jewish Primary School and we share a tremendous sense of pride and achievement that he was there at the beginning our journey.”

 

All gallery photos: David Katz

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