Duke of Edinburgh pulls out of Jutland event on doctor’s advice

The Duke of Edinburgh has been advised not to travel to Orkney. Picture: Michael Gillen
The Duke of Edinburgh has been advised not to travel to Orkney. Picture: Michael Gillen
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THE Duke of Edinburgh will not attend commemorations marking the Battle of Jutland in Orkney today following medical advice.

A statement from a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “Following doctor’s advice, the Duke of Edinburgh has reluctantly decided not to attend the commemorations marking the Battle of Jutland in Kirkwall and Hoy.

“The Princess Royal, who was already attending the events, will represent the royal family.”

Prince Philip, 94, is understood to have no plans to cancel any other forthcoming engagements, and has not attended hospital.

Descendants of those who fought at Jutland have been invited to join the commemorations, which include a service at St Magnus Cathedral on Kirkwall.

Events will continue with a service at Lyness Cemetery on the island of Hoy – the final resting place for more than 450 service personnel who died in the war, including sailors killed at Jutland.

The cemetery stands close to Scapa Flow, from where the British Grand Fleet set out for the Jutland Bank to repel German forces attempting to break a British blockade.

Almost 250 ships took part. and both nations claimed victory - Germany because of the 6,094 British losses compared to the 2,551 men it sacrificed, but Britain had seriously weakened the enemy’s naval capability.

There will also be a remembrance service at sea where British and German naval representatives will scatter poppies and forget-me-nots - the German flower of remembrance - into the North Sea at Jutland Bank.

The Princess Royal will be accompanied by her former husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence as vice-chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

• READ MORE: Falling masonry casts Jutland memorial service in doubt

In a message on the St Magnus order of service, the duke wrote that the commemorations were focused on the “endurance and gallantry” of all those who took part.

Prince Albert - later King George VI and the duke’s father-in-law - fought at Jutland aboard HMS Collingwood and was mentioned in dispatches.

The Battle of Jutland was the biggest naval engagement of the First World War.

The warring powers had largely confined their fighting to the trenches, but the Royal Navy commanded the seas and was inflicting a crippling trade blockade on Germany.

Germany needed to break this dominance and on 31 May, its High Seas Fleet left their North Sea bases to attack Allied shipping off the Norwegian coast.

Late in the afternoon, they were confronted by the full might of the British Grand Fleet under Sir John Jellicoe near Jutland.

The clash began late in the day, in poor visibility and did not yield a clear result.

The Germans retreated to their bases, though British casualties were far higher. At total of 25 ships were destroyed and Britain lost 6,097 British sailors compared to 2,551 Germans.

Both sides claimed victory, with the Kaiser Wilhelm II declaring‘the spell of Trafalgar is broken’. But the German fleet never again challenged the Royal Navy’s dominance during the war and the blockade continued.

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