|Duke of Edinburgh|
|Consort of Elizabeth II|
|Tenure||6 February 1952 – present
(&1000000000000005900000059 years, &10000000000000249000000249 days)
|Charles, Prince of Wales|
|House||House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg|
|Father||Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark|
|Mother||Princess Alice of Battenberg|
|Born||10 June 1921 (1921-06-10) (age 90)Villa Mon Repos, Corfu, Greece|
|Religion||Church of England
prev. Greek Orthodox
Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born at Villa 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. Philip's four elder sisters were Margarita, Theodora, Cecilie, and Sophie. He was baptised at St George's Church at the Palaio Frourio (Old Fortress) in Haddokkos a few days after his birth. His godparents were Queen Olga of Greece (his paternal grandmother, for whom his first cousin, Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, stood proxy) and the Corfu City Council, represented by Alexander Kokotos, Mayor of Corfu, and Stylianos Maniarizis, Chairman of the Corfu City Council.
Shortly after Philip's birth, his maternal grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg, died in London. Louis was a naturalised British citizen and, after long and distinguished service in the Royal Navy, had renounced his German titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten. After visiting London for the memorial, Philip and his mother returned to Greece where Prince Andrew had remained behind to command an army division embroiled in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922).
The war went badly for Greece, and the Turks made large gains. On 22 September 1922, Philip's uncle, the reigning King Constantine I of Greece, was forced to abdicate, and Prince Andrew, along with others, was arrested by the military government. The commander of the army, General Georgios Hatzianestis, and five senior politicians were executed. Prince Andrew's life was believed to be in danger, and Alice was under surveillance. 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 being 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 aunt, Princess George of Greece.
Although both he and his father were born in Greece, he "has no Greek blood and does not speak Greek". In 1992, Philip claimed that he "could understand a certain amount of" the language. He has stated that he considers himself to be Scandinavian, particularly Danish. He speaks fluent English, German and French.
Philip studied at Gordonstoun School, ScotlandPhilip was first educated at an American school in Paris run by Donald MacJannet, who described Philip as a "rugged, boisterous ... but always remarkably polite" boy. In 1928, he was sent to the UK to attend Cheam School, living with his maternal grandmother 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 noblemen and moved to Germany, his mother was placed in an asylum after being diagnosed with schizophrenia, and his father moved to a small flat 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. After two terms at Salem, Philip moved to Gordonstoun. In 1937, his sister Cecilie, her husband (Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse), her two young sons and her mother-in-law were killed in an air crash at Ostend; Philip, then only sixteen years of age, attended the funeral in Darmstadt. The following year, his uncle and guardian Lord Milford Haven died of bone cancer.
After leaving Gordonstoun in 1939, Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy, graduating the next year from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, as the top cadet in his course. He was commissioned as a midshipman in January 1940. Philip spent four months on the battleship HMS Ramillies, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force in the Indian Ocean, followed by shorter postings on HM Ships Kent, Shropshire and in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). 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. Amongst other engagements, he was involved in the Battle of Crete, was mentioned in despatches for his service during the Battle of Cape Matapan where he controlled the battleship's searchlights.
Prince Philip was promoted to sub-lieutenant after a series of courses at Portsmouth in which he gained the top grade in four out of five sections. In June 1942, he was appointed to the V and W class destroyer and flotilla leader, 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, at just 21 years of age, he became first lieutenant of HMS Wallace and one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. During the invasion of Sicily, in July 1943, as second in command of HMS 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. In January 1946, Philip returned to the United Kingdom on the Whelp, and was posted as an instructor at HMS Royal Arthur, the Petty Officers' School in Corsham, Wiltshire.
Further information: Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of EdinburghIn 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. Elizabeth fell in love with Philip and they began to exchange letters. Eventually, in the summer of 1946, Philip asked the King for his daughter's hand in marriage. The King granted his request providing any formal engagement was delayed until Elizabeth's twenty-first birthday the following April. In the meantime, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish royal titles, as well as his allegiance to the Greek crown, converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism, and became a naturalised British subject, all of which was done by 18 March 1947. Philip adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother's family. The engagement was announced to the public on 10 July 1947. The day preceding his wedding, King George VI bestowed the style His 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.
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 of them 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.
Philip was keen to pursue his naval career, though aware that his wife's future role as queen would eventually eclipse his ambitions. Nevertheless, Philip returned to the navy after his honeymoon, 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, after being posted as the First Lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers, the lead ship of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet. In July 1950, he was promoted to lieutenant commander and given command of the frigate HMS Magpie. He was promoted to commander in 1952, but his active naval career ended in July 1951.
With the King in ill health, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were each appointed to the Privy Council on 4 November 1951 (making the Duke now the only remaining member of the council to have been appointed by George VI), after having made a coast to coast tour of Canada. At the end of January the following year, 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 ascended the throne. It was Philip who broke the news of her father's passing to Elizabeth at Sagana Lodge, and the royal party immediately returned to the United Kingdom.
Consort of the Queen
The accession of Elizabeth to the throne brought up the question of the name of the royal house. The Duke's uncle, Louis Mountbatten, advocated the name House of Mountbatten, as Elizabeth would typically have taken Philip's last name on marriage; however, when Queen Mary, Elizabeth's paternal grandmother, heard of this suggestion, 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. The Duke 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."
In 1960, several years after the death of Queen Mary and the resignation of Churchill, the Queen issued an Order in Council declaring that the surname of male-line descendants of the Duke and the Queen who are not styled as Royal Highness, or titled as Prince or Princess, was to be Mountbatten-Windsor. In practice, the Duke's children have all used Mountbatten-Windsor as a surname when not using a name derived from their highest titles (i.e., Wales, York, or Wessex); similarly, his male-line grandchildren use names derived from these titles.
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 attends Parliament only when escorting the Queen for the annual State Opening of Parliament, where he walks and sits beside her.
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. "I haven't done anything," he complained. Philip had not interfered, preferring to stay out of other people's love lives. Eventually, Margaret and Townsend parted. For six months over 1953–54 Philip and Elizabeth toured the Commonwealth; again their children were left in the United Kingdom.
In 1956, the Duke founded the Duke of Edinburgh's Award with Kurt Hahn, in order to give young people "a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities". From 1956 to 1957, Philip travelled around the world aboard the newly commissioned HMY Britannia, during which he opened the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne and visited the Antarctic. 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 offence." 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. In a show of public support, the Queen created Parker a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. On 22 February 1957, she granted her husband the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom by Letters Patent, restoring the princely status that he had formally renounced ten years earlier. On the same date, it was gazetted 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. Visiting 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 is patron of some 800 organisations, particularly focused on the environment, industry, sport, and education. He served as UK President of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 to 1982, International President from 1981 and President Emeritus from 1996. He is patron of The Work Foundation, 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.
At the beginning of 1981, Philip wrote to his eldest son, Charles, counselling him to make up his mind to either propose to Lady Diana Spencer, or break off their courtship. Charles felt pressured by his father to make a decision, and did so, proposing to Diana in February. They married six months later.
By 1992, the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales had broken down. The Queen and Philip hosted a meeting between Charles and Diana, trying to get them reconciled but without success. Philip wrote to Diana, expressing his disappointment at both Charles's and her extra-marital affairs, and asking her to examine both his and her behaviour from the other's point of view. The Duke was direct, and Diana was sensitive. She found the letters hard to take, but she nevertheless appreciated that he was acting with good intent. Charles and Diana separated and later divorced.
A year after the divorce, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997. At the time, the Duke was on holiday at Balmoral with the extended royal family. In their grief, Diana's two sons, Princes William and Harry, wanted to attend church, and so their grandparents took them that morning. For five days, the Queen and the Duke shielded their grandsons from the ensuing press interest by keeping them at Balmoral where they could grieve in private. The Royal Family's seclusion caused public dismay, but the public mood was transformed from hostility to respect by a live broadcast made by the Queen on 5 September. Uncertain as to whether they should walk behind her coffin during the funeral procession, Diana's sons hesitated. Philip told William, "If you don't walk, I think you'll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me?" On the day of the funeral, Philip, William, Harry, Charles and Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, walked through London behind her bier.
Over the next few years Mohammed Al-Fayed, whose son Dodi Fayed was also killed in the crash, claimed that Prince Philip had ordered the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and that the accident was staged. The inquest into Diana's death concluded in 2008 that there was no evidence of a conspiracy.
During the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2002, the Duke was commended by the Speaker of the British House of Commons for his role in supporting the Queen during her reign. The Duke of Edinburgh's time as royal consort exceeds that of any other consort in British history; however, his mother-in-law, who died aged 101, was the consort with the longest lifespan.
The Duke carries out over 300 public engagements a year, more than any other royal except his daughter, Princess Anne. It was revealed in October 2007 that Prince Philip had been suffering from a heart condition since 1992; bodyguards protecting the Duke were trained to rush him to medical attention for symptoms as simple as dizziness and shortness of breath, even against Philip's own wishes. Though he started to take medication for the condition, the Duke refused to reduce his royal duties. In April 2008, Philip was admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital for "assessment and treatment" for a chest infection, though he walked into the hospital unaided and recovered quickly, and was released three days later to recuperate at Windsor Castle.
In August 2008, the Evening Standard newspaper reported that Philip was suffering from prostate cancer. Buckingham Palace, which usually refuses to comment on rumours of ill health, claimed that the report was an invasion of privacy. Unusually, Philip authorised a statement denying the story. The newspaper retracted the report, and admitted it was untrue.
In June 2011, in an interview marking the occasion of his 90th birthday he said that he would now slow down and reduce his duties, stating that he had "done [his] bit".
Personality and image
Philip played polo until 1971, when he started to compete in carriage driving, a sport which he helped expand; the early rule book was drafted under his supervision. He was a keen yachtsman, striking up a friendship in 1949 with Uffa Fox in Cowes. He and the Queen regularly attended Cowes Week in HMY Britannia. His first airborne flying lesson took place in 1952; by his 70th birthday he had accrued 5,150 pilot hours. He has painted with oils, and collected artworks, including contemporary cartoons, which hang at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham House, and Balmoral Castle. Hugh Casson described Philip's own artwork as "exactly what you'd expect ... totally direct, no hanging about. Strong colours, vigorous brushstrokes."
In 1979, when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were guests of President Carter, Prince Philip was approached by White House butler Lynwood Westray and another unnamed butler:
"Your majesty, would you like a cordial?" Westray asked him. "I'll take one if you'll let me serve you," Prince Philip responded. "Oh my God, this had never happened before," said Westray. "There we were standing there. I was holding the glasses and my buddy was holding the liqueurs and we looked at each other, and I said 'If that's the only way you'll have it, we'll go along with it.' And the prince served us what he was having, and the three of us had a drink and a conversation. It was an honour to let him do it."
Over his sixty years as royal consort, Philip became famous for making remarks which some people regarded as offensive and/or based on stereotypes. Some of them were immediately interpreted as gaffes; but other awkward observations were construed as merely odd, off-colour, or occasionally even funny. In his own words, comments attributed to Prince Philip have contributed to the perception that he is "a cantankerous old sod". The historian David Starkey has described him as a kind of " H.R.H Victor Meldrew". For example, in May 1999 British newspapers accused Philip of insulting deaf children at a pop concert in Wales by saying, "No wonder you are deaf listening to this row." Later Philip wrote, "the story is largely invention. It so happens that my mother was quite seriously deaf and I have been Patron of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf for ages, so it's hardly likely that I would do any such thing." During a state visit to the People's Republic of China in 1986, in a private conversation with British students from Xian's North West University, Philip joked, "If you stay here much longer, you'll go slit-eyed." The British press reported on the remark as indicative of racial intolerance, but the Chinese authorities were unconcerned. Chinese students studying in the UK, an official explained, were often told in jest not to stay away too long, lest they go "round-eyed". His comment had no effect on Sino-British relations, but it shaped his own reputation.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Main article: List of titles and honours of Prince Philip, Duke of EdinburghPhilip has held a number of titles throughout his life. Originally holding the title and style of a prince of Greece and Denmark, Philip renounced these royal titles before his marriage, and was thereafter created a British duke, amongst other noble titles. It was not, however, until the Queen issued Letters Patent in 1957 that Philip was again titled as a prince. When in conversation with the Duke of Edinburgh, the practice is to initially address him as Your Royal Highness and thereafter as Sir.
Honours and honorary military appointments
Upon his wife's accession to the throne in 1952, the Duke of Edinburgh was appointed Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the British Army Cadet Force, and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps. The following year, he was appointed to the equivalent positions in Canada, and made Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal, and Marshal of the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. Subsequent military appointments were made throughout the Commonwealth. To celebrate his 90th birthday, the Queen appointed him Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy (the highest rank in the organisation anyone other than the sovereign can hold) and to the highest ranks available in each branch of the Canadian Forces: honorary Admiral of the Maritime Command (now the Royal Canadian Navy) and General of the Land Force Command (now the Canadian Army) and Air Command (now the Royal Canadian Air Force).
Before he became consort, the Duke was appointed to the Order of the Garter on 19 November 1947. Since then, Philip has received 17 different appointments and decorations in the Commonwealth, and 48 by foreign states. The inhabitants of some small villages in Vanuatu also worship Prince Philip as a god; the islanders possess portraits of the Duke and hold feasts on his birthday.