An incredibly well-preserved crocodile head shot by Prince Phillip has been listed for auction with a starting price of $10,000 after being gifted to a New Zealand family 60 years ago.
Susanna Clark, of Napier, inherited the relic which was originally given to her famous grandfather Sir Percy Wyn-Harris by the Queen‘s husband in 1957.
In the decades since the stuffed reptile has been proudly displayed in Ms Clark’s home – sometimes serving as a table centre piece for dinner parties.
A well-preserved crocodile head (pictured) that was shot by Prince Phillip has gone up for auction with an opening bid of $10,000
Susanna Clark (pictured), of Napier, inherited the artefact which the Duke of Edinburgh gifted to her famous grandfather Sir Percy Wyn-Harris
‘I have three children – so which child was I going to choose to give the famous crocodile head to? It was a very difficult choice,’ Ms Clark told Stuff.
‘They’re all young and in their 30s, starting out in their lives, and I thought financial help would be more beneficial to them than having a crocodile head as a centerpiece for their dinner table.’
Sir Percy, an English yachtsman and mountaineer who climbed Everest, served as the Governor of Gambia for the Colonial Service in Africa.
During Prince Phillip’s first royal visit to the African nation in 1957 the pair quickly built a rapport and on one occasion rode a small boat up the Gambia River, where they shot a few crocodiles.
The royal later gifted one of the beast’s heads to his politician friend as memorabilia of their trip, inscribing ‘shot by his Royal Highness Prince Philip’ under its jaw.
The collectible was passed down from Sir Percy at the time of his death to Ms Clark’s father, an only child, before spending many years in the Wyn-Harris family home on the back step, pinned to the side of the house.
A photo of Prince Phillip’s Gambian river safari that appeared on the cover of French magazine Paris Match in 1957
Ms Clark (second from the right) pictured with her siblings Steve (far left), Trace (second from the left), and Jeremy (far right), the grandchildren of the famous Sir Percy Wyn-Harris
When her father died, all of the bits that he inherited from her grandfather were distributed and Ms Clark ended up with the crocodile head in her possession.
Steve Wyn-Harris, Ms Clark’s brother, said the Prince and Sir Percy immediately struck up a friendship and his grandfather and later travelled the globe helping the royal, set up The Duke OF Edinburgh Award.
‘I think he was quite taken with my grandfather, [who] had been quite an adventurer,’ Mr Wyn-Harris, a regular rural news contributor revealed in RNZ earlier this week.
‘He’d climbed to within 900 feet of the top of Everest in 1933, and found George Mallory or [Andrew] Irvine’s ice axe up there, and done that sort of thing, and they got on pretty well.’
Ms Clark sought her family’s permission before putting it up for sale, where she believes it would most likely be snapped up by a royal devotee.
The decision came after her brother, Mr Wyn-Harris, revealed the extraordinary tale about the crocodile and their grandfather’s friendship with the Prince on RNZ last Thursday, sparking a flurry of interest in the curio among local media outlets.
‘I’ve got eight watchers. I can’t believe how many hits I’ve had. So there has been a bit of interest,’ she said.
However, the mother-of-three is not ‘fussed’ as to whether or not it is bought and will hold onto the prized heirloom if it does not meet the reserve price.
Sir Percy’s great-grandchildren and their partners pose for a wedding photo