'So easy to talk to': Prince Philip at ease, even on TV with Canberra teenagers in 1973

Prince Philip is interviewed on the ABC's Prism program in Canberra in October 1973. Pictures: Supplied
Prince Philip is interviewed on the ABC's Prism program in Canberra in October 1973. Pictures: Supplied

What should a 15-year-old growing up in the inner north of Canberra wear when he's interviewing Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, on television?

It's a question which weighed on the mind of Andrew Todd, who in October 1973 joined a panel of Canberra teenagers to ask Prince Philip about his Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme for the ABC's Prism program.

"In those days 15-year-olds didn't have very fashionable wardrobes. So what would look good and all that sort of stuff? I remember the rest of the extended family was ready to grill me immediately afterwards about how it went and what happened," Mr Todd said.

All these years on, Mr Todd doesn't remember much of how the interview went, but can recall the nerves of interviewing the Duke.

Mr Todd still has a typed list of questions, letters about the program and a photograph taken when the interview was recorded.

"There was an opportunity before we started to film to meet with him and talk and he did what he is extraordinarily good at, which is putting people at ease, including very nervous 15-year-olds, who were nervous about being on television, being filmed, then interviewing the Queen's husband," he said.

"The rest becomes a bit of a blur, because it all happens very quickly. And then the show's finished and he says good bye and thank you and off he goes."

Andrew Todd, left, gestures as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Lenie Namatjira, the granddaughter of Aboriginal artist Albert Namajtira look on, during a private meeting with members of his family who presented the royal couple with two new pieces of artwork, at Buckingham Palace in 2013. Picture: Getty Images

Andrew Todd, left, gestures as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Lenie Namatjira, the granddaughter of Aboriginal artist Albert Namajtira look on, during a private meeting with members of his family who presented the royal couple with two new pieces of artwork, at Buckingham Palace in 2013. Picture: Getty Images

But it wouldn't be the last time Mr Todd interacted with Prince Philip. As Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in London, Mr Todd again met the Duke of Edinburgh.

"Very interesting book ends, you know, young Canberra boy ... interviews the Duke, who was just the easiest person in the world to talk to, through to several decades later, Deputy High Commissioner in London, still having the connections to Prince Philip and he was just as easy to deal with decades later," Mr Todd said.

"An absolutely charming gentleman, so easy to talk to."

Though he didn't mention the interview from all those years before, thinking it would be a bit twee. But Mr Todd did find a moment to mention to the Queen the impact his Silver Jubilee Trust Young Australian award had on his life.

"I did have the opportunity for a private word to her about how interesting is that as a young recipient of that award set me off on a career in a strange way ended me up as a diplomat and serving overseas and she was quite taken by that," he said.

Alongside Mr Todd on the panel was Michelle Meredyth and Linda Blom, both 17, and a young Greg Turnbull, who would go on to a career in television journalism.

"Our problem in life at the time was that the timeslot the program was given was in direct competition with Countdown. And guess who won?" Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Turnbull said if he and the panel were pawns in a Royal PR strategy, they were happy to be so.

"I have a strong belief that it was probably very stodgy and rid of any scent of controversy whatsoever," Mr Turnbull said.

"I'm pretty sure we just asked him about the good work the awards scheme did and what he thought about it, and whether he liked Canberra. If I saw the interview again tomorrow, I'd be just like anyone else seeing it for the first time because it's so long ago."

Mr Turnbull said the experience helped to prompt him into a journalism degree at the Canberra College of Advanced Education.

"It was an honour and it was a great experience. I have no other recollection of him other than him being a very senior and distinguished gentleman, which he was," he said.

This story 'So easy to talk to': Prince Philip at ease, even on TV with Canberra teenagers in 1973 first appeared on The Canberra Times.