Spotlight On Duke of Edinburgh, Late Prince Philip
Philip was born into the Greek and Danish royal families. He was born in Greece, but his family was exiled from the country when he was eighteen months old. After being educated in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, aged 18. From July 1939, he began corresponding with the thirteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth, whom he had first met in 1934. During the Second World War he served with distinction in the Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets.
After the war, Philip was granted permission by George VI to marry Elizabeth. Before the official announcement of their engagement in July 1947, he abandoned his Greek and Danish titles and styles, became a naturalized British subject, and adopted his maternal grandparents' surname Mountbatten. He married Elizabeth on 20 November 1947.
Just before the wedding, he was granted the style His Royal Highness and created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by the King. Philip left active military service when Elizabeth became queen in 1952, having reached the rank of commander, and was made a British prince in 1957. Philip had four children with Elizabeth: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
Through a British Order in Council issued in 1960, descendants of the couple not bearing royal styles and titles can use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, which has also been used by some members of the royal family who do hold titles, such as Anne, Andrew and Edward.
A sports enthusiast, Philip helped develop the equestrian event of carriage driving. He was a patron, president or member of over 780 organizations, and he served as chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, a self-improvement program for young people aged 14 to 24. He was the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch and the longest-lived male member of the British royal family. He retired from his royal duties on 2 August 2017, aged 96, having completed 22,219 solo engagements and 5,493 speeches since 1952. Philip died on 9 April 2021, two months before his 100th birthday.
Prince Philip (Greek: Φίλιππος, romanized: Fílippo) 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. A member of the House of Glücksburg, the ruling house of Denmark, he was a prince of both Greece and Denmark by virtue of his patrilineal descent from George I of Greece and Christian IX of Denmark, and he was from birth in the line of succession to both thrones. Philip's four elder sisters were Margarita, Theodora, Cecilie, and Sophie. He was baptised in the Greek Orthodox rite at St. George's Church in the Old Fortress in Corfu.
Shortly after Philip's birth, his maternal grandfather Prince Louis of Battenberg, then known as Louis Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven, died in London. Louis was a naturalized British subject who, after a career in the Royal Navy, had renounced his German titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten – an Anglicized version of Battenberg – during the First World War, owing to anti-German sentiment in Britain. After visiting London for his grandfather's memorial service, Philip and his mother returned to Greece where Prince Andrew had remained to command a Greek Army division embroiled in the Greco-Turkish War.
The war went badly for Greece, and the Turks made large gains. Philip's uncle and high commander of the Greek expeditionary force, King Constantine I, was blamed for the defeat and was forced to abdicate on 27 September 1922. The new military government arrested Prince Andrew, along with others. The commanding officer of the army, General Georgios Hatzianestis, and five senior politicians, were arrested, tried, and executed in the Trial of the Six. Prince Andrew's life was also believed to be in danger, and Princess Alice was under surveillance. Finally in December, a revolutionary court banished Prince Andrew from Greece, for life.
The British naval vessel HMS Calypso evacuated Prince Andrew's family, with Philip carried to safety in a cot made from a fruit box. Philip's family went to France, where they settled in the Paris suburb of Saint-Cloud in a house lent to them by his wealthy aunt, Princess George of Greece and Denmark.
Because Philip left Greece as a baby, he did not speak Greek. In 1992, he said that he "could understand a certain amount". Philip stated that he thought of himself as Danish, and his family spoke English, French, and German. Philip was raised as a Greek Orthodox Christian. As a teenager, he was involved with German Protestantism. Known for his charm in his youth, Philip was linked to a number of women, including Osla Benning.
Philip was educated at Gordonstoun school in Scotland. 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.
In the next three years, his four sisters married German princes and moved to Germany, his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and placed in an asylum, and his father took up residence in Monte Carlo. Philip had little contact with his mother for the remainder of his childhood. In 1933, he was sent to Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, which had the "advantage of saving school fees" because it was owned by the family of his brother-in-law, Berthold, Margrave of Baden. With the rise of Nazism in Germany, Salem's Jewish founder, Kurt Hahn, fled persecution and founded Gordonstoun School in Scotland, to which Philip moved after two terms at Salem.
In 1937, his sister Cecilie, her husband Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse, her two young sons, Ludwig and Alexander, her newborn infant, and her mother-in-law, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, were killed in an air crash at Ostend; Philip, then 16 years old, attended the funeral in Darmstadt. Both Cecilie and her husband were members of the Nazi Party. The following year, his uncle and guardian Lord Milford Haven died of bone marrow cancer.
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 (his first-cousin), he returned to Britain in September to resume training for the Royal Navy. He graduated from Dartmouth the next year as the best cadet in his course. During the Second World War, he continued to serve in the British forces, while two of his brothers-in-law, Prince Christoph of Hesse and Berthold, Margrave of Baden, fought on the opposing German side.
Philip was appointed as a midshipman in January 1940. He spent four months on the battleship HMS Ramillies, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force in the Indian Ocean, followed by shorter postings on HMS Kent, on HMS Shropshire, and in British Ceylon. After the invasion of Greece by Italy in October 1940, he was transferred from the Indian Ocean to the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Fleet.
On 1 February 1941, Philip was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant after a series of courses at Portsmouth, in which he gained the top grade in four out of five sections of the qualifying examination. Among other engagements, he was involved in the battle of Crete and was mentioned in dispatches for his service during the battle of Cape Matapan, in which he controlled the battleship's searchlights. He was also awarded the Greek War Cross. In June 1942, he was appointed to the destroyer HMS Wallace, which was involved in convoy escort tasks on the east coast of Britain, as well as the Allied invasion of Sicily.
Promotion to lieutenant followed on 16 July 1942. In October of the same year, he became first lieutenant of HMS Wallace, at 21 years old one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. During the invasion of Sicily, in July 1943, as second in command of Wallace, he saved his ship from a night bomber attack. He devised a plan to launch a raft with smoke floats that successfully distracted the bombers, allowing the ship to slip away unnoticed. In 1944, he moved on to the new destroyer, HMS Whelp, where he saw service with the British Pacific Fleet in the 27th Destroyer Flotilla. He was present in Tokyo Bay when the instrument of Japanese surrender was signed. Philip returned to the United Kingdom on the Whelp in January 1946, and was posted as an instructor at HMS Royal Arthur, the Petty Officers' School in Corsham, Wiltshire.
In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. During the visit, the Queen and Louis Mountbatten asked his nephew 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. Elizabeth fell in love with Philip, and they began to exchange letters when she was 13.
Eventually, in the summer of 1946, Philip asked the King for his daughter's hand in marriage. The King granted his request, provided that any formal engagement be delayed until Elizabeth's 21st birthday the following April. By March 1947, Philip had abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles had adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother's family and had become a naturalized British subject. The engagement was announced to the public on 10 July 1947.
Though Philip appeared "always to have regarded himself as an Anglican", and he had attended Anglican services with his classmates and relations in England and throughout his Royal Navy days, he had been baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, wanted to "regularise" Philip's position by officially receiving him into the Church of England, which he did in October 1947.
The day before the wedding, King George VI bestowed the style of Royal Highness on Philip and, on the morning of the wedding, 20 November 1947, he was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in the County of London. Consequently, being already a Knight of the Garter, between 19 and 20 November 1947 he bore the unusual style His Royal Highness Sir Philip Mountbatten and is so described in the Letters Patent of 20 November 1947.
Philip and Elizabeth were married in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey, recorded and broadcast by BBC radio to 200 million people around the world. 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. After their marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh took up residence at Clarence House. Their first two children were born before Elizabeth succeeded her father as monarch in 1952: Prince Charles in 1948 and Princess Anne in 1950. Their marriage was to become the longest of any British monarch.
Philip was introduced to the House of Lords on 21 July 1948, immediately before his uncle Louis Mountbatten, who had been made Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Philip, like his sons Charles and Andrew and other royals (with the exception of the 1st Earl of Snowdon), ceased to be members of the House of Lords following the House of Lords Act 1999. He never spoke in the House.
After his honeymoon at the Mountbatten family home, Broadlands, Philip returned to the navy at first in a desk job at the Admiralty, and later on a staff course at the Naval Staff College, Greenwich. From 1949, he was stationed in Malta (residing at Villa Guardamangia) after being posted as the first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers, the lead ship of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet. On 16 July 1950, he was promoted to lieutenant commander and given command of the frigate HMS Magpie. On 30 June 1952, Philip was promoted to commander, though his active naval career had ended in July 1951.
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, they were in Kenya when Elizabeth's father died and she became queen. It was Philip who broke the news to Elizabeth at Sagana Lodge, and the royal party immediately returned to the United Kingdom.
The accession of Elizabeth to the throne brought up the question of the name of the royal house, as Elizabeth would typically have taken Philip's last name upon marriage. The Duke's uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, advocated the name House of Mountbatten. Philip suggested House of Edinburgh, after his ducal title. When Queen Mary, Elizabeth's grandmother, heard of this, she informed the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, who himself later advised the Queen to issue a royal proclamation declaring that the royal house was to remain known as the House of Windsor. Prince Philip privately complained, "I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children."
On 8 February 1960, several years after the death of Queen Mary and the resignation of Churchill as prime minister, the Queen issued an Order in Council declaring that Mountbatten-Windsor would be the surname of her and her husband's male-line descendants who are not styled as Royal Highness or titled as prince or princess. While it seems the Queen had "absolutely set her heart" on such a change and had it in mind for some time, it occurred only 11 days before the birth of Prince Andrew (19 February), and only after three months of protracted correspondence between constitutional expert Edward Iwi (who averred that, without such a change, the royal child would be born with "the Badge of Bastardy") and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who had attempted to rebut Iwi's arguments.
After her accession to the throne, the Queen also announced that the Duke was to have "place, pre-eminence, and precedence" next to her "on all occasions and in all meetings, except where otherwise provided by Act of Parliament". This meant the Duke took precedence over his son, the Prince of Wales, except, officially, in the British parliament. In fact, however, he attended Parliament only when escorting the Queen for the annual State Opening of Parliament, where he walked and sat beside her. Contrary to rumors over the years, the Queen and Duke were said by insiders to have had a strong relationship throughout their marriage, despite the challenges of Elizabeth's reign. The Queen referred to Prince Philip in a speech on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 as her "constant strength and guide"
Prince Philip received a Parliamentary annuity (of £359,000 since 1990) that served to meet official expenses in carrying out public duties. The annuity was unaffected by the reform of royal finances under the Sovereign Grant Act 2011. Any part of the allowance that was not used to meet official expenditure was liable for tax. In practice, the entire allowance was used to fund his official duties.
Duties and milestones
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".
In the early 1950s, his sister-in-law, Princess Margaret, considered marrying a divorced older man, Peter Townsend. The press accused Philip of being hostile to the match, to which he replied "I haven't done anything." Philip had not interfered, preferring to stay out of other people's love lives. Eventually, Margaret and Townsend parted. For six months, over 1953–1954, Philip and Elizabeth toured the Commonwealth; as with previous tours the children were left in Britain.
In 1956, the Duke, with Kurt Hahn, founded The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in order to give young people "a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities". In the same year, he also established the Commonwealth Study Conferences. From 1956 to 1957, Philip traveled around the world aboard the newly commissioned HMY Britannia, during which he opened the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne and visited the Antarctic, becoming the first royal to cross the Antarctic Circle. The Queen and the children remained in the UK. On the return leg of the journey, Philip's private secretary, Mike Parker, was sued for divorce by his wife. As with Townsend, the press still portrayed divorce as a scandal, and eventually, Parker resigned. He later said that the Duke was very supportive and "the Queen was wonderful throughout. She regarded divorce as a sadness, not a hanging offense." In a public show of support, the Queen created Parker a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
Further press reports claimed that the Queen and the Duke were drifting apart, which enraged the Duke and dismayed the Queen, who issued a strongly worded denial. On 22 February 1957, she granted her husband the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom by Letters Patent, and it was gazette that he was to be known as "His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh". Philip was appointed to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on 14 October 1957, taking his Oath of Allegiance before the Queen in person at her Canadian residence, Rideau Hall. Remarks he made two years later to the Canadian Medical Association on the subject of youth and sport were taken as a suggestion that Canadian children were out of shape. This was at first considered "tactless", but Philip was later admired for his encouragement of physical fitness. In Canada in 1969, Philip spoke about his views on republicanism:
It is a complete misconception to imagine that the monarchy exists in the interests of the monarch. It doesn't. It exists in the interests of the people. If at any time any nation decides that the system is unacceptable, then it is up to them to change it.
Philip Meirionnydd at the National Eisteddfod being awarded an ovate by the Archdruid of Wales, 1960. In 1960, Philip attended the National Eisteddfod wearing a long green robe, where he was initiated as an Honorary Ovate by the Archdruid of Wales Edgar Phillips through his bardic name Philip Meirionnydd, to reflect his title of Earl of Merioneth. In 1961, he became the first member of the royal family to be interviewed on television, after he appeared on Panorama to answer questions by Richard Dimbleby about the Commonwealth Technical Training Week, an initiative of which he was patron.
Philip was a patron of some 800 organizations, particularly focused on the environment, industry, sport, and education. His first solo engagement as Duke of Edinburgh was in March 1948, presenting prizes at the boxing finals of the London Federation of Boys' Clubs at the Royal Albert Hall. 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 helped found the Australian Conservation Foundation in 1963 and the World Wildlife Fund in 1961 and served as the latter's UK president from 1961 to 1982, international president from 1981, and president emeritus from 1996.
Despite his involvement in initiatives for conserving nature, he was also criticized for practices such as fox hunting and shooting of game birds. In 1952, he became patron of The Industrial Society (since renamed The Work Foundation). Between 1959 and 1965 Prince Philip was the President of BAFTA. He was president of the