CIBSE mourns Honorary Fellow HRH Prince Philip

The Duke of Edinburgh was noted for his deep interest in engineering and the built environment

CIBSE has paid tribute to HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was an Honorary Fellow of the Institution from 1978, and sent its condolences to the royal family on news of his death.

CIBSE President Stuart MacPherson said: ‘The Duke of Edinburgh was noted for his deep interest in engineering and the built environment, and was campaigning for a better natural environment long before it became fashionable to do so.’

Remembering the Duke of Edinburgh by Terry Wyatt I wonder how many fellow CIBSE members are aware that Prince Philip was ‘one of us’. In 1978, the Duke of Edinburgh accepted an Honorary Fellowship of CIBSE at a ceremony in London, which I was fortunate to attend.

As a naval officer, the Duke had been engineer in charge of his ship’s heating and ventilation systems, among others. In his acceptance speech, I recall him telling of, what he called, the curse of the adjustable room thermostat, which frequently ensured that a room’s temperature was other than it should be.

So often, someone entering would decide it was too cold and yank the lever up high; the room then overheated and the next person did the reverse, ensuring it was never set correctly.

Prince Philip told us this was not the case on his ships, because he introduced a mechanism whereby a clockwork function would return the thermostat to its set position after adjustment by any shipmate. He wished they were fitted in his home and could not understand why our industry did not use them. Amazingly, it is only relatively recently that this has become commonplace.

The Duke memorably said that, unlike structural and civil engineers, with their harbours and bridges, the less people are aware – by ‘see, feel, smell or touch’ – of what we do, the better we’ve done our job. As a consequence, you are invisible.

I do not doubt that he was glad to see we have emerged from the shadows to take our place at the forefront of building design, construction and operation.

Prince Philip graced our Institution as a uniquely worthy member, and will be missed and remembered with gratitude.