Remembering Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – The Royal Windsor MG Heritage Festival

10th April 2021
Mr He Xiaoqing presents a new TF LE 500 to the Duke of Edinburgh to auction for his charity. Photo: John Watson

Originally published in Safety Fast! during 2009 as part of the 85th anniversary of MG, this article remembers the moment that MGCC members met HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle. We have re-published the article here in memory of his passing, at the age of 99, on April 9th 2021.

Words by Pete Macwaters .

Promoted as the ‘MG Event of a Lifetime’, it was our opportunity to take ‘Lucy’ (our 1960 MGA) to see the Duke! 

The highly anticipated gathering was organised on behalf of the Rotary Club of Windsor and Eton by The MG Owners Club in association with the MG Car Club, MG Octagon Car Club and the Early MG Society. 

It was the perfect way to celebrate MG’s 85th birthday and came complete with the royal seal of approval!

The oldest and newest MG ready to lead the parade. Photo: Gill Watson

MG Motor UK Ltd was instated as the event’s main sponsor as cars spanning all eras converged at what was a spectcular Windsor Castle setting. It was therefore apt, that MG Motors used the Windsor event as platform to launch their new TF LE85 and TF 135 models.

Having received our confirmation for the Royal Review, a 7.00am start from Buckingham, in convoy with a friend’s 1955 MG TF, was necessary in order to comply with our allocated 8.30am rendevous at the King Edward VII car park in Windsor.

Despite the initial poor forecast for the Saturday, as the week progressed, the outlook improved, so it was hoods down as we travelled south. We were allocated number 103 out of 220 and almost half the cars were already parked up as we arrived. 

A few of the 800 MG’s parked along Long Drive. Photo: Pete Macwaters.

Upon arrival at the signing on tent we were handed rally board, cable ties, a commemorative MG Festival grille badge and a copy of the souvenir brochure. We now had plenty of time to buff the car, stow the hood and attach the rally board and grille badge. Many others were doing the same to make sure that their ‘pride and joy’ were looking perfect for the Duke. 

Security checks commenced at 9.15am where passports/driving licences were checked by the police. This still left plenty of time to admire the other cars in the parade and chat to fellow participants before the first MG left the car park at 10.45am for the short trip to the Castle.

A collection of MGAs at the King Edward VII Assembly Car Park. Photo: Pete Macwaters  

The first car to leave was a brand new 2009 MG TF 85th Anniversary model, followed at strict 15 second intervals by cars in year order, starting with a 1925 MG Super Sports (PP 3256) which was featured in all the pre publicity material. 

There was at least one example of virtually every MG model with every manufacturing year covered. 

‘Lucy’ the MGA gets to meet the Duke.

We drove to the Castle via Thames Street and into Castle Hill where the general public lined the roads and made us feel like royalty as they waved and cheered with plenty of photos being taken.  

We entered the grounds and drove slowly around the quadrangle getting a cheery wave from the Duke of Edinburgh. We then exited through the private gate complete with sentry and proceeded down Frogmore Drive to the Frogmore Display ground where all the parade cars were parked up in order.  

The MGs pass through the castle gates on the way to Frogmore Drive. Photo: Gill Watson

At 12.30am the Duke of Edinburgh arrived to undertake a tree planting ceremony with MG Motor UK Ltd. chairman Mr. He Xiaoqing.  A new black TF LE500 was presented to the Duke by Mr. He Xiaoqing for auction to benefit The Prince Philip Trust Fund and other Rotary nominated Charities,  sealed bids in excess of £9,500 were invited. 

Meanwhile, the eight scenic road runs had been organised to  ensured a steady stream of cars filtered into Windsor and assembled at Long Walk.

We ventured to Long Walk and saw Chris Evans in his very expensive Ferrari as we crossed Albert Road on the way back, it was certainly a glorious day to be out in your convertible. 

An estimated 600 additional cars used these road runs to get to Windsor making a total of 820 MG cars in one place, apart from Silverstone, surely this is a record? 

The four runs organised by the clubs converged on the Castle grounds. Photo: Piers Hubbard.

Events came to an end at 4pm with vehicles leaving the Frogmore Display area shortly afterwards. 

We left at 4.15 and made our way back into Windsor for our overnight stay in the town.  We parked up at the rear of the Castle hotel along with all of the others who were staying for the Gala Dinner. 

We assembled in the Sandringham Suite at 7pm for pre dinner drinks and canapes! A very nice dinner was followed by official speeches before an excellent guest speaker, Paddy Hopkirk, who had everyone in fits of laughter. The evening finished at about 11.15 when some retired to bed whilst others made for the bar.

MG Motors used this event to launch their special edition MG TF LE 85. Photo: Adrian Clifford

The forecasted rain for the Sunday thankfully didn’t materialise and we awoke to a sun drenched morning with clear blue skies and hundreds of Scouts waiting to enter the Castle for the Queen’s Scout Awards.  

The day coincided with the London Marathon so we took the opportunity to watch the start before checking out and leaving for our run home.  We left just before 11am and enjoyed a wonderful drive back to Buckingham, arriving home in good time.

A great end to a memorable ‘MG Event of a Lifetime’.   

Crowds line the streets as MGs make there way towards Windsor Castle. Photo: Gill Watson