N.B. artist reflects on 'best piece of advice' from late Prince Philip

·4 min read
Christian Corbet was chosen to sculpt a bust of the late Prince Philip in 2012, where he had the opportunity to meet and build a rapport with the royal consort. (Submitted by Christian Corbet - image credit)
Christian Corbet was chosen to sculpt a bust of the late Prince Philip in 2012, where he had the opportunity to meet and build a rapport with the royal consort. (Submitted by Christian Corbet - image credit)

A New Brunswick artist said the best piece of career advice he ever received came from the late Prince Philip.

It was 2012 and Christian Corbet, a Sackville artist, was tasked with spending several hour-long sessions with the Duke of Edinburgh as he worked to sculpt a bust in the royal consort's image.

Corbet had been approached by the Royal Canadian Regiment to do the bust, and later flew to the United Kingdom, where he spent several sessions at Buckingham Palace working on the portrait of the prince.

"It was like a grandfather's lounge where you saw awards everywhere, you saw personal photos of his mom, his sister." said Corbet, describing the room where he did the live sessions with the prince, during an interview with Radio-Canada.

"Prince Philip comes in, he shakes my hand, he says to me, 'Oh', he says, 'I read your CV'. And he said, 'You've been busy'. And I said, 'Yes, thank you, sir'."

On Friday, April 9, Prince Philip, husband to Queen Elizabeth, died at 99. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history.

Christian Corbet shaking hands with Prince Philip.
Christian Corbet shaking hands with Prince Philip.(Submitted by Christian Corbet)

Over several sessions, Corbet said he built a rapport with the prince, and got an insight into his "incredible wit" and kindness.

At one point, the two were discussing art, and Corbet said the conversation led to the prince offering a piece of advice he's held on to since.

"I'd ask him questions about his art because he's a very accomplished painter and, you know, at one point he said, 'So do you still do painting?'... and I said, 'Oh, no'. I said 'I do mostly sculptures'.

"And he gave the best piece of advice that anybody has done, and really it's helped my career immeasurably.

"He said, 'You know, a sculpture's a hard sell in Canada. You don't want to give that up. Keep it. Keep it up. Keep up the painting'."

Christian Corbet and the bust he created of Prince Philip, which is now part of the Royal Collection.
Christian Corbet and the bust he created of Prince Philip, which is now part of the Royal Collection.(Submitted by Christian Corbet)

The prince showed a liking for the bust Corbet created, which Corbet said helped validate his work as an artist.

"He touched me in a way that was just so wonderful. It makes today very sad, but at the same time, I'm very grateful."

Prince Philip's N.B. visits

Serving as colonel-in-chief for the Royal Canadian Regiment, Prince Philip kept strong ties with Canada, and didn't leave New Brunswick out when visiting the country.

According to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Elizabeth and Prince Philip first visited New Brunswick in 1951, when she was still a princess, and returned in 1959, 1976, 1984, and in 2002 as part of the Queen's Golden Jubilee tour.

On their first visit, the couple arrived in Fredericton by train on Nov. 6, 1951, where Elizabeth, who was 25 at the time, and Prince Philip were greeted by hundreds of spectators, according to the provincial archives, in an online tribute to the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth visit Saint John in 1959.
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth visit Saint John in 1959.(CBC Archives)

"During their two-day stay in New Brunswick, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip toured historic landmarks, talked to war veterans, listened to choral music, attended a glittering civic dinner, and received warm cheers of welcome from well-wishers, who flooded into the communities they visited," states the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.

To mark the Queen's 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne in 2002, she and Prince Philip visited New Brunswick as part of a 12-month tour throughout the Commonwealth countries. It was the last time the couple visited the province.

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth visit Fredericton in 2002.
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth visit Fredericton in 2002.(CBC Archives)

The couple visited Fredericton on Oct. 11, 2002, before making quick stops in Sussex, Moncton and Dieppe.

N.B. officials offer condolences

The offices of New Brunswick Lt-Gov. Brenda Murphy and Premier Blaine Higgs issued statements on the death of Prince Philip on Friday.

"On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I extend to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and all members of the Royal Family, our most profound condolences," said Murphy, in a news release.

Higgs also extended condolences to the Royal Family on behalf of New Brunswickers.

"We fondly remember his many visits to our province over the years, both on his own and with Her Majesty The Queen, and the special efforts he made to meet with New Brunswickers from all walks of life who strive to make valuable contributions to their communities," Higgs said, in a news release.

Higgs said a rose bush planted on the grounds of Government House by the Queen during her and Prince Philip's last visit in 2002 will serve as a reminder of the prince's "unwavering dignity, loyalty and service to all Canadians."