HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
It is sadly a week ago as we write this month’s information den article, that the sad news of the death of HRH The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh died peacefully with HM The Queen at his side at Windsor Castle.
We feel that is only right that this month’s article focusses on the life and times of Prince Philip, and dedicate it to him for his life of service that he has given HM The Queen, and to our great country.
On the 10th June 1921, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born. He was born on a dining table in Mon Repos, a villa on Corfu. He was the 5th child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg.
In 1922, The Greco-Turkish War ended badly, with Prince Philip’s Uncle, King Constantine I blamed for the defeat and therefore abdicated the throne. The blame also meant that Prince Andrew was arrested by the new military Government, his life believed in danger and Princess Alice under surveillance. In the December, Prince Andrew was exiled, he, Princess Alice and the family including Prince Philip in a fruit box, sailed to France on HMS Calypso.
This all follows having had his family name, changed after World War I to Mountbatten due to the anti-German feeling in England, where his maternal grandfather lived.
Prince Philip and The Queen
In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the Royal Navel College, Dartmouth. This was the time that Philip met Princess Elizabeth (as she was then), she was 13. Prince Philip had been asked to escort the 2 Princesses (Elizabeth and Margaret) through their stay. Elizabeth fell in love with Philip, and they remained in contact through letters.
Prince Philip and the Queen are 3rd cousins through Queen Victoria and 2nd cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark.
It was the summer of 1946 when Prince Philip asked King George VI for Princess Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, which the King granted permission providing that the announcement was made the following year once Elizabeth was 21. By March 1947, Philip had abandoned his Danish and Greek Royal titles, had adopted the surname Mountbatten, and had become a naturalised British subject.
The announcement of the engagement of Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth was made on 10th July 1947.
The marriage between the pair took place on 20th November 1947. The night before King George VI had bestowed the style of Royal Highness on the groom. On the morning of the wedding, he was bestowed the following titles:
- Duke of Edinburgh,
- Earl of Merioneth, and
- Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in the County of London.
The wedding ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey and was broadcast to over 200 million listeners on BBC Radio. Sadly, for Prince Philip, in Post-war Britain it was not acceptable for any of his German relations to be invited to the wedding, including his 3 surviving sisters who had each married German Princes.
The happy couple moved into Clarence House; the marriage would become the longest marriage of any British Monarch at over 73 years.
For some time after the wedding, Prince Philip returned to the navy initially in a desk job at the Admiralty, and later on a staff course at the Naval Staff College, Greenwich. In 1949, he was stationed in Malta, where he and Princess Elizabeth resided at Villa Guardamangia, after being posted as the first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers.
On 16th 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 came to an end in July 1951.
At the end of January 1952, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip commenced a tour of the commonwealth, leaving an ill-health King at home. In Kenya, The Royal couple were staying in a treehouse on the 5th February 1952. The following morning on the 6th February, the news had broken of the death of Elizabeth’s father King George VI. It was Philip who broke the sad news to his wife. The couple came down from the treehouse with new roles, Elizabeth was now Queen. The couple returned immediately to the UK.
Prince Philip and Education
The biggest influence on Prince Philip in terms of his education seems to be the time that he had at Gordonstoun in Scotland. He attended until 1939. The school had been founded by Kurt Hahn who blended outdoor activities and skills such as seamanship and mountaineering, with a traditional private school ethos, modelled on his experiences at Eton and Oxford.
In 1956, Prince Philip announced a new scheme that would bear his title, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. It was modelled on Kurt Hahn’s ‘Six Declines on Modern Youth’. It was designed to attract boys who had no interest in joining one of the leading Youth organisations, and was designed so that you do not have to join an organisation nor wear a uniform. In November 1957, it was announced that girls would be invited to join the scheme as well.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has extended to 144 countries.
Prince Philip Consort
As the Queen ascended to the throne, the question of the family surname was raised, in tradition, The Queen would have taken her husband’s name at marriage. The Queen was advised to keep the Royal House name as The House of Windsor, which she did. Prince Philip is said to have moaned in private, ‘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, however, HM The Queen issued an Order in Council that declared 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.
Not only was the name of the House, something that The Queen had to deal with on the ascension to the throne, she 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 Acts 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 rumours 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 stay’.
Prince Philip retired from public duties on the 2nd August 2017 at the age of 96. During his time supporting his wife and Queen he had attended 22,219 public engagements.
Prince Philip Character
It is well documented that the Duke had a wicked sense of humour, as well as having a reputation for bluntness and straight talking.
In an address to the General Dental Council in 1960, he jokingly coined a new word for his blunders: ‘Dontopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science which I have practised for a good many years.’ Later in life, he suggested his comments may have contributed to the perception that he was ‘a cantankerous old sod’.
It was during a state visit to China in 1986 when a comment he made was described by the British press as being indicative of racial intolerance. The comment in question was made in a private conversation with British students from Xi’an’s Northwest University in which he joked, ‘If you stay here much longer, you’ll go slit-eyed’. The Chinese authorities were reportedly 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-eye’. The comment had no effect on Sino-British relations.
Prince Philip’s Surviving family
HM The Queen Elizabeth II
Prince of Wales (1),
Duke of Cambridge (2),
Prince George (3),
Princess Charlotte (4),
Prince Louis (5),
Duke of Sussex (6),
Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (7).
Princess Royal (15),
Peter Phillips (16),
Zara Tindall (19),
Mia Tindall (20),
Lena Tindall (21),
Lucas Tindall (22).
Duke of York (8),
Princess Beatrice (9),
Princess Eugenie (10),
August Brooksbank (11).
Earl of Wessex (12),
Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor (14),
Viscount Severn (13).
Order of succession to the British throne in brackets (), correct as of 16th April 2021
In summary, Prince Philip has spent over 69 years faithfully giving service to his country and wife and Queen. He has supported The Queen through the good times and the bad for instance her annus horribilis in 1992 and the death of the former wife of the heir to the Throne, Princess Diana. Throughout everything he has been there by her side, a step behind in public engagements.
Privately, The Queen has described the death of her husband and the longest serving consort in British history as ‘having left a huge void in her life’.
Prince Philip’s death has led to the commencement of Operation Forth Bridge, the plan for announcing his death and planning for his funeral. It would appear that the pandemic is going to provide Prince Phillip with the quiet no-fuss funeral that he wanted when it takes place tomorrow (Saturday 17th April 2021) at Windsor Castle.
Join us and the nation in a minute’s silence at 3pm the start of the funeral.
We close with this message:
Your Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
THANK-YOU for your years of service
May you Rest in Peace
10th June 1921 – 09th April 2021