TODAY, our nation, the Commonwealth and countries across the world are joined together to pay respects to His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.

We are marking a remarkable man, both in terms of his vast contribution and of his lasting legacy.

He has been an important figurehead for our country, playing a prominent part during times of great social change in many aspects of national life.

He was a distinguished, decorated veteran of the Second World War, known for his passion for the skills of science, engineering design and art.

And then, for 73 years, he was the husband of the Queen and, from the moment of her accession to the throne in 1952, he was her consort for almost 70, totally dedicated to supporting her in her role as head of state.

In 1995, during a lunch to mark their golden wedding, Her Majesty said of him: “He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments, but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”

There can be no greater tribute.

He was patron or president of some 780 organisations, with special interests in scientific and technological research and development. He will be remembered for his dedication to the military, his promotion of the Outward-Bound Trust and the World Wildlife Fund, and for his concern for young people and his desire to encourage them.

This is most evident in the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which he founded in 1956. It has transformed the lives of millions of young people in the UK and across the globe. It is the world’s leading youth achievement award which has helped generations, regardless of ability, gender, background, or location to successfully navigate adult life.

The award was about setting personal challenges, pushing personal boundaries and developing confidence and resilience – essential skills for life and work.

The Duke said of the award: “It’s what I like to describe as a do-it-yourself growing up kit.”

When I became Lord-Lieutenant in 2013, the Duke was my first Royal visitor. You can imagine how nervous I was.

But, my goodness, it was an amazing day, one I shall never forget.

A letter had been sent to Buckingham Palace by Ronnie Allaker, a parent whose children attended Langley Park Primary School to the west of Durham, asking if the Duke would like to open an outdoor space which had been designed and created by pupils with the support of local businesses and volunteers from the Prince’s Trust.

And the Duke accepted! Can you imagine the excitement?

He missed nothing, spoke warmly to everyone, engaged with the children, showing interest in their work. He put everyone at ease – including me – and made it an incredibly special occasion, a day to remember for all present.

He commanded everyone’s attention in his inimitable, humorous, informal way when he declared himself to be “the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler” as he officially opened the garden.

It was impossible not to be impressed.

The Duke of Edinburgh will be remembered with great affection for his sense of humour, his energy, zest for life, and a lifetime of devoted public service. But above all for his unwavering devotion, commitment, and steadfast support to Her Majesty the Queen.

On behalf of the people of Durham, I have conveyed our deepest condolences to Her Majesty and the Royal family.

l Sue Snowdon is Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham