H.R.H Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
21 June 1921 - 9 April 2021
H.R.H. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born in Mon Repos on the Greek island of Corfu on 10 June 1921, the only son and fifth and final child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has an ancestral history that ranges from the uncle of the Russian tsars to the grandchildren of Queen Victoria. Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on the island of Corfu, he was a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (the royal families of Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Northern Germany and Greece) until he gave up his royal titles to become a British citizen in order to marry the Queen
Philip was first educated at The Elms, an American school in Paris run by Donald MacJannet, who described Philip as a "know it all smarty person, but always remarkably polite".In 1928, he was sent to the United Kingdom to attend Cheam School, living with his maternal grandmother, Victoria Mountbatten, Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, at Kensington Palace and his uncle, George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, at Lynden Manor in Bray, Berkshire. After leaving Gordonstoun in early 1939, Philip completed a term as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, then repatriated to Greece, living with his mother in Athens for a month in mid-1939. At the behest of the Greek king, George II, he returned to Britain in September to resume training for the Royal Navy.
In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. During the visit, the Queen and Earl Mountbatten asked Philip to escort the King's two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, who were Philip's third cousins through Queen Victoria, and second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark.
Philip and Elizabeth were married in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey, recorded and broadcast by BBC radio to 200 million people around the world. However, in post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for any of the Duke of Edinburgh's German relations to be invited to the wedding, including Philip's three surviving sisters, all of whom had married German princes, some with Nazi connections. After their marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh took up residence at Clarence House. Their first two children were born: Prince Charles in 1948 and Princess Anne in 1950. Their marriage was the longest of any British sovereign.
With the King in ill health, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were both appointed to the Privy Council on 4 November 1951, after a coast-to-coast tour of Canada. At the end of January 1952, Philip and his wife set out on a tour of the Commonwealth. On 6 February 1952, when they were in Kenya, Elizabeth's father died and she became queen. It was Philip who broke the news of her father's death to Elizabeth at Sagana Lodge, and the royal party immediately returned to the United Kingdom.
As consort to the Queen, Philip supported his wife in her new duties as sovereign, accompanying her to ceremonies such as the State Opening of Parliament in various countries, state dinners, and tours abroad. As Chairman of the Coronation Commission, he was the first member of the royal family to fly in a helicopter, visiting the troops that were to take part in the ceremony. Philip was not crowned in the service, but knelt before Elizabeth, with her hands enclosing his, and swore to be her "liege man of life and limb".
Prince Philip retired from his royal duties on 2 August 2017, meeting Royal Marines in his final solo public engagement, aged 96. Since 1952 he had completed 22,219 solo engagements. Prime Minister Theresa May thanked him for "a remarkable lifetime of service". On 20 November 2017, he celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary with the Queen, which made her the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary
Prince Philip was patron of some 800 organisations, particularly focused on the environment, industry, sport, and education. He was President of the National Playing Fields Association (now known as Fields in Trust) for 64 years, from 1947 until his grandson Prince William took over the role in 2013.] He served as UK President of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 to 1982, International President from 1981, and President Emeritus from 1996. In 1952, he became patron of The Industrial Society (since renamed The Work Foundation).He was President of the International Equestrian Federation from 1964 to 1986, and has served as Chancellor of the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Salford, and Wales. In 2017, the British Heart Foundation thanked Prince Philip for being its patron for 55 years, during which time, in addition to organising fundraisers, he "supported the creation of nine BHF-funded centres of excellence". He was an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge.
By the time of his 90th birthday, Philip acknowledged the need to step down from some of his public commitments: “It’s better to get out before you reach the sell-by date.” Reviewing the course of his life in television interviews held no fascination for him. As he explained to Fiona Bruce of the BBC, when he had first asked what he was to do, no one could tell him so he proceeded by trial and error. Six decades later, having been involved with more than 800 organisations, he still had a quite uncluttered view of the uses and limitations of being a figurehead. Barely concealing his impatience with Bruce’s questions and making little effort to charm, he did admit to a desire to slow down: “I reckon I’ve done my bit. I want to enjoy myself now with less responsibility, less frantic rushing about, less preparation, less trying to think of something to say … The memory’s going … Yes, I am just sort of winding down.”
He is survived by the Queen, their four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.