BAFTA has paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh at the opening night of its film awards, hailing the prince for getting it through “difficult times”.
The BAFTA film awards are being held largely virtually over two nights this year, with categories including casting and make-up being announced on the Saturday night.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday aged 99, was the first president of BAFTA in 1959, a year after the British Film Academy and the Guild of Television Producers and Directors merged to create the Society of Film and Television Arts (SFTA), a forerunner of BAFTA.
BBC Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo opened proceedings in an empty Royal Albert Hall on Saturday night, saying: “Before we start tonight we want to say that on behalf of BAFTA we are extremely saddened by the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on Friday.
“The duke was BAFTA’s very first president over 60 years ago and was the first of a line of royal patronage all the way through to BAFTA’s current president, his grandson, the Duke of Cambridge.
“It was Prince Philip and Her Majesty the Queen’s support throughout these years that in many ways allowed BAFTA, a leading charity in the arts, to continue in difficult times and to be here today in 2021 celebrating another outstanding year of achievement in film.”
Prince William, the current president of BAFTA, was scheduled to be part of the main event on Sunday evening, in a conversation with costume designer Jenny Beavan and make-up designer Sharon Martin.
The Duke of Cambridge has since pulled out of the evening following the death of his grandfather.
He was also due to deliver a pre-recorded speech, praising the resilience of the film industry over the past year.
As well as serving as the academy’s first president, Prince Philip was also at the official opening of BAFTA’s headquarters in central London, after he and the Queen gave their share of the profits from the 1969 documentary Royal Family to the SFTA.