The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH Prince Philip, gets off the tractor trailer, with Roy Day, left, Alistair Mackintosh [top right] and Wayne Carlton. Photo / Lincoln College
Prince Philip was “hijacked” from his Rolls Royce on his way to Lincoln College while visiting New Zealand.
However, the police and the security team themselves were not only aware of the plan – they helped facilitate it.
It was 1973 and the Queen’s husband was about to visit the university when her motorcade was intercepted by a group of students and she was put into a tractor and trailer that had hay bales and pitchforks on it.
It was a joke some students had dreamed of – and Prince Philip happily played together.
“Duke came to visit Lincoln College because he had a pretty strong interest in agriculture,” former student Alastair Mackintosh told the Herald.
“Some of us got together and thought it would be great if we plowed it with tractors and trailers and hay bales, and brought it to Lincoln.”
The journey is only about 500m, but getting tick marks by officers is no easy task.
After several meetings with the police chief, they were finally given the green light.
“We met Duke on the main road to Lincoln and he was riding our trailer with hay bales … when Prince got out of his Rolls Royce, his bag fell onto the road, I said, ‘I hope your lunch isn’t here.’
“We drove him to Lincoln and he chatted with us like a nice man.”
Others include Roy Day, the late Hughes “Blue”, Hugh Gardyne and Wayne Carlton.
However, Mackintosh said that it was not the tractor ride that surprised the officials, but rather his partner, the late Bernie Davidson, who was wearing a long jacket and pink coat, pretending to be Prince.
Davidson’s son, James, today shared the group’s revelry on social media, complete with some photos from the university collection.
Their plan was set in motion to intercept the Prince’s motorcade which would have him loaded onto tractors and trailers and taken to where a group of delegates awaited.
Mackintosh is one of the friends in the trailer, who they dump with a haystack, also using it as Prince’s step to get down and up.
“I actually talked about that this morning,” said Mackintosh when he was approached by the Herald this afternoon to elaborate on the story.
But there is another pair – Davidson – doing more damage.
Dressed in a hat, dinner jacket and tie, and pink trousers, Davidson drove Austin with the words “Britannia Wagon”, in front of the Duke’s vehicle, with it stopping in front of a waiting officer.
“Bernie, he’s a big big guy with red hair and so they got this old Austin and had a chauffeur and they came screaming in … and Bernie came out and he got this umbrella, top hat, dinner jacket and tie.
“They couldn’t do anything, really … she shook hands with all of them, said something, then she walked back to the carpet and they dashed off.
“Bernie is such a character, he’s very dry.”
It was then that the Duke of Edinburgh was brought in by tractor. The only condition of his security team was that he had to sit on a blanket – so he wouldn’t get hay in his pants.
He said those involved in the joke, apart from the late Davidson and Hughes, were still talking about it at their five-year reunion, a topic that is sure to come up again when it’s time to reunite in two years.
“He’s a nice guy, to be honest. He’s great, he really is, he thinks it’s a good joke, a nice touch.”