By Mario Cacciottolo
Stephen Judge with his 'soul patch', pictured at his palace visit
A man with a tiny patch of facial hair has had his growth gently mocked by Prince Philip, who expressed pity for his "poor frustrated beard".
Stephen Judge, 38, of Bedfordshire, met Prince Philip at a Buckingham Palace garden party.
He said the prince jokingly poked fun at his type of facial hair, known as a "soul patch", urging him: "If you are going to grow a beard, grow a beard."
Mr Judge is now taking the prince's advice and growing a beard for charity.
A soul patch is a type of facial hair beneath the bottom lip, made popular by jazz musicians.
Mr Judge said: "Prince Philip is patron of the Chartered Society of Designers and I had been invited to the party in July due to my involvement with them.
"On hearing that I was a designer he laughed, saying 'Well, you are obviously not a hirsute designer,' and pointed at my small but perfectly formed soul patch.
"He took great delight in mocking my 'poor frustrated beard' and said 'If you are going to grow a beard, grow a beard.'
"I was laughing along with everyone else, as Prince Philip was having a little banter with everyone and doing his best to make us all feel at ease."
Mr Judge has now decided to use the publicity surrounding his conversation with the Duke of Edinburgh to raise money for a good cause.
He said: "I would love my hairy adventures to raise some cash for charity, so I am pledging to get sponsorship to keep growing my beard, as encouraged by the great man himself, until 5 November.
"I think raising £2,000 for charity would make the long hot itchy days of a beardy summer worth it."
The funds raised by Mr Judge's facial growth will go the Keech Cottage Children's Hospice in Luton, run by the Pasque Charity.
This provides hospice care for children with life-limiting conditions.