SIR: The passing of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, is a sad loss not only to the Royal Family but also to the whole nation.

I recall meeting the Queen and Prince Philip 16 years ago on the occasion of the official recognition of all those who served on the Home Front during the Second World War which included the Bevin Boys although we were compulsory conscripted to the coal mines instead of joining the Armed Forces.

The Prince asked me "what was your occupation before becoming a Bevin Boy?" I replied "I was a solicitor's clerk, sir". As quick as a flash he said "Gosh - you had a change of career" and then asked "what job did you do down the pit?". I replied "I was a pony driver, sir". Again a quick response "Ah, yes - I do know something about ponies." He wished me well and then continued on his journey. A short but interesting conversation with Prince Philip.

Then the Queen came along and said "delighted to see a Bevin Boy here today". I responded briefly but politely.

Phil Yates,

Tower Street,