Businessman and former politician Burns Rutty on Friday recounted the story of when he took Prince Philip on a fishing trip in South Sound during the duke’s first visit to the Cayman Islands in 1962.
“He was on R&R from a South American tour, he’d been in Brazil,” Rutty said. “The governor, who was called an administrator at that time, asked if I would take Prince Philip fishing. I said I would be glad to. He spent about three hours on the boat – him and two security guys.
“It was quite a nice afternoon. He was quite the character.”
At the time, Rutty was a Cabinet minister in the Cayman Islands government.
Knowing Rutty had a “decent” boat – the Beth – and that the duke enjoyed fishing, Administrator Jack Rose asked Rutty if he would take Prince Philip out on the water.
The duke was staying at Government House on Seven Mile Beach, so Rutty picked him and his security officers up from there.
“We boarded the boat and went out on the South Sound, and he caught a nice tuna, 30-35 pounds. And two barracuda,” Rutty recalled.
“I asked him if I could offer him a beer, and he said ‘I would love a beer,’ as he’d had some exercise catching the fish,” Rutty said.
However, handing the husband of the queen of England a beer wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
Rutty opened the beer and then took it to Philip, but the security officers told him that he had to open the bottle in front of the duke. So, Rutty got a second beer out of the cooler.
“It was a Budweiser,” Rutty said. “I showed him the beer and opened it for him. He took a sip and said, ‘Very nice. A lager.'”
The two had a conversation “about different things” while on the boat, before heading back to shore.
But the tale does not end there.
A few years later, during a Caribbean tour by the Queen and Prince Philip, Rutty was part of a Cayman Islands delegation to Jamaica when the royal pair visited that island.
He was standing in a long line of officials at the governor-general’s residence in Kingston as the Queen and Duke made their way along, shaking hands – and briefly chatting – with people.
“When they got to me, Prince Philip said to the Queen ‘This is the fellow who took me fishing,'” Rutty said.
The Queen said to Rutty that her husband had previously told her that the fishing excursion had been “the most enjoyable part of his trip”.
Rutty said the Queen spent several minutes talking with him as the “highfalutin Jamaican officials were wondering what she was doing chatting to this Caymanian guy for so long”.
One of Rutty’s biggest regrets, he said, is that he never got a photograph taken with the Duke. “Cameras weren’t as common as they are now. You couldn’t just take your phone out and get a photo,” he said.
But he remembers his encounters with the Duke fondly, describing him as “pleasant and enjoyable” company.
Prince Philip had a lifelong love of fishing, spending many hours fly-fishing when at the royal couple’s Scottish residence, Balmoral.