How Sandringham’s indestructible “cart” helped Prince Philip survive rough and tumble of carriage driving

Duke of Edinburgh competing in the carriage driving event at the Sandringham Show. Picture: Tim Doyl

Duke of Edinburgh competing in the carriage driving event at the Sandringham Show. Picture: Tim Doyle - Credit: Archant �2005

Prince Philip has revealed how an 'indestructible' carriage which was built at Sandringham and practice sessions in Norfolk helped him take up a new equestrian sport.

Duke of Edinburgh competing in the carriage driving event at the Sandringham Show in 2005. Picture:

Duke of Edinburgh competing in the carriage driving event at the Sandringham Show in 2005. Picture: Tim Doyle - Credit: Archant �2005

In his first interview since he announced his retirement, the Duke of Edinburgh told how he took up the sport of carriage driving when he gave up polo at the age of 50.

MORE - Prince Philip announces he is retiring from public engagements

Duke of Edinburgh competing in the carriage driving event at the Sandringham Show in 2005. Picture:

Duke of Edinburgh competing in the carriage driving event at the Sandringham Show in 2005. Picture: Tim Doyle - Credit: Archant �2005

MORE - Outspoken, tough but caring: The life and times of Prince Philip

REVEALED - Prince Philip set for one last engagement in NorfolkSpeaking 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.'

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

Duke of Edinburgh competing in the carriage driving event at the Sandringham Show in 2005. Picture:

Duke of Edinburgh competing in the carriage driving event at the Sandringham Show in 2005. Picture: Tim Doyle - Credit: Archant �2005

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

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'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 competes at Sandringham in 2003. Picture: John Hocknell

The Duke competes at Sandringham in 2003. Picture: John Hocknell - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

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, the Duke 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, he 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.'

The Duke regularly competed in carriage driving championships at Sandringham into his 80s.

MORE - Retirement means Prince Philip can spend more time at Sandringham

MORE - Norfolk reacts to the Duke's retirement

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