Northern Ireland news

DUP councillor retracts comment Prince Philip's first meeting with future wife (13) 'would be talked about as being grooming' today

DUP councillor Bill Keery

A DUP councillor has retracted his comment that Prince Philip's first meeting with his future wife, then aged 13, "would be talked about as being grooming" if it happened today.

Ards and North Down alderman Bill Keery issued an "unreserved apology" for the remark made during his fulsome tribute to Queen Elizabeth's late husband at a special meeting Ards and North Down Borough Council called to allow members to pay their respects.

He recounted his personal memories of the royal and ran through key biographical details of the Duke of Edinburgh before adding: "He first met her majesty again as a 13-year-old. I don't know how people would view that nowadays - whether that would be talked about as being groomed - but eventually he ended up marrying Princess Elizabeth in 1947".

Mr Keery has now sent an email to the mayor and council chief executive `via a third party', accepting "I made a comment which was ill-judged and did not convey what I wished to highlight, which was the bond between HM the Queen and Prince Philip that has endured over so many decades.

"Whilst I offer an explanation for what I was attempting to convey, there is no excuse for the phrase that was used and I both retract it and offer an unreserved apology.

"I had the honour of meeting Prince Philip on several occasions and do not wish to dishonour his memory in any way, particularly during this time of national mourning.

"I wish again to stress my retraction of the comment and offer apologies to the chief executive, to other members of the council, and to those who were watching the meeting online."

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