|Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Consort to the British Monarch
February 6, 1952 – April 9, 2021
Duke of Edinburgh
November 20, 1947 – April 9, 2021
| Philippos Andreou of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderberg-Glücksburg, Prince of Greece and Denmark.
June 10, 1921
Villa Mon Repos, Corfu, Greece
| April 9, 2021 (aged 99)
Windsor Castle, United Kingdom
| Burial: April 17, 2021
Royal Vault, St George's Chapel
|Queen Elizabeth II (m. 1947 - 2021)
| 4 children
|United Kingdom (1939 - 1952)
|Commander (active service)
|World War 2
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (June 10, 1921 - April 9, 2021), born as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, was the husband and royal consort of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. He was born in Greece and was a prince of the Greek royal family. Evacuated to Britain after a revolutionary coup d'état in his homeland, he became a naval cadet and served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, earning a Mention in Despatches for his actions during the Battle of Cape Matapan. In 1947 he renounced his Greek and Danish titles and became a British citizen before marrying Princess Elizabeth, who became queen in 1952 upon the death of her father, King George VI. Just prior to the marriage, he was given the title of Duke of Edinburgh, and thereafter styled as His Royal Highness. In 1957, he was further elevated to the rank of Prince of the United Kingdom.
Prince Philip cultivated a gruff and sometimes tactless persona, and affected to be impatient of court protocol. This lack of political correctness led him to be mocked by some in the liberal media; wiser and more tolerant observers, though, admired his directness and robust humor which, perhaps with deliberate irony, often came at the expense of foreigners - or at least of foreign countries: "You managed not to get eaten then?" he once inquired of a British student recently returned from a trekking vacation in Papua New Guinea. His most celebrated such utterance occurred in a domestic context, however: on being introduced to a driving instructor in a 1995 visit to the beautiful coastal town of Oban in western Scotland (the Brits don't do Driver Ed.) he asked, disarmingly, "How do you keep the natives off the sauce for long enough to pass the test?”
Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born on June 10, 1921, at the villa of Mon Repos on the island of Corfu in Greece. His father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, a member of the House of Glücksberg (the royal family of Denmark) and the younger brother of the ruling king of Greece, Constantine I; his mother was Princess Alice of Battenberg, member of a branch of the German House of Hesse-Darmstadt and a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Alice's father and younger brothers had, prior to Philip's birth, become naturalized British subjects, serving in the Royal Navy and anglicizing their family name to "Mountbatten" due to anti-German sentiment during World War I, giving the young child some influential British connections. At his birth, Philip (the couple's fifth and final child, and their only son) was sixth in line to succeed to the Greek throne.
At the time of Philip's birth, Greece was embroiled in a war with Turkey that had resulted from nationalist conflicts, and over the next year suffered serious losses to the Turks. In September 1922, a revolution broke out that forced King Constantine I, discredited by the progress of the war, to abdicate, and Prince Andrew, who had been in command of a Greek division, was arrested. A few months later, a revolutionary court banished him from the country for life, and his family was evacuated by ship, with Philip carried on board in a cot made from a fruit box. Philip had little personal connection with the Greek nation after this point; he had only a limited understanding of the Greek language during his life, and said later that he considered himself primarily Danish.
The exiled family settled outside Paris, where Philip lived until 1930, when he was sent to Britain to attend school under the guardianship of his Mountbatten relatives. During this time, he suffered much turbulence among his immediate family. His parents were by now estranged, with Philip moving to Monte Carlo in Monaco and spending most of the rest of his life there, while his mother, Princess Alice, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and placed in an asylum in Switzerland. Meanwhile, in a short span of time, Philip's four older sisters--Margarita, Theodora, Cecilie, and Sophie--were married to German princes and relocated to Germany. Cecilie and her husband, Prince George Donatus of Hesse, were members of the Nazi Party; they and three of their four children were killed in a plane crash in 1937. His other sisters' husbands were Party members as well, and would serve in the German Army during World War II.
Thanks to the influence of his sister Theodora's husband, Berthold, Margrave of Baden, Philip began attending the elite German boarding school Schule Schloss Salem in 1933, spending two terms there before transferring to Gordonstoun School in Moray, Scotland (a move stemming partly from the increasing anti-Jewish persecution in Germany). During these years, seeing very little of his parents, he was closest to his uncle and guardian, Louis Mountbatten.
Philip completed his studies at Gordonstoun School in early 1939, after which he enrolled at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth to prepare for military service. He was urged to do so by some of his relatives, the imminent outbreak of the Second World War apparently being a major consideration in this. He graduated from the college in 1940, having been recognized as the best of his class of cadets and awarded the King's Dirk; that summer, he was assigned to the battleship HMS Ramillies as a midshipman and spent the next several months on duty in the Indian Ocean. In January 1941, Philip was transferred to the HMS Valiant at Alexandria in Egypt, commanding the ship's searchlight control during the Battle of Cape Matapan off the coast of Greece that March. Recognized for his skill in this action, he was rapidly promoted to sub-lieutenant and then lieutenant, and in October 1942 was assigned to the destroyer HMS Wallace as its first lieutenant. In this capacity, he was on hand during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943. In 2003, it was revealed that Philip had prevented an attack on the Wallace by a Luftwaffe bomber, constructing a raft with "smoke floats" and sending it away from the ship to trick the bombers into striking it instead. A veteran of the Wallace who told the story said that "Prince Philip saved our lives that night."
In 1944, Philip joined the HMS Whelp, again as first lieutenant, which joined the British Pacific Fleet and was stationed offshore during the Battle of Okinawa and was in Tokyo Bay during the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. He continued to serve on the ship until its return to Britain in January 1946.
After leaving the Whelp, Philip spent time at the Petty Officers' School in Wiltshire as an instructor, then took a position at the Naval Staff College in Greenwich. In 1949 (after his marriage to Princess Elizabeth), he was appointed first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers, stationed in Malta, which would be the couple's effective home until Elizabeth's succession to the throne in 1952. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in 1950 and given command of the frigate HMS Magpie, then promoted again to Commander in 1952. This was the highest rank Philip would reach during his active service.
Though the two had briefly met on a couple of prior occasions, Philip and Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the reigning King George VI and heir apparent to the British throne, only became seriously acquainted in 1939 while the royal family was touring the naval college at Dartmouth; he acted as an escort for her and her younger sister Margaret. The two began a romantic correspondence not long thereafter (despite Elizabeth being only 13 at the time), and as early as 1941 there was private speculation that the two would be married in time. Philip asked the King for his daughter's hand in marriage in 1946, which he granted but postponed the announcement of until after Elizabeth's 21st birthday in April 1947. They were married at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. (Due to their German marriages, none of Philip's surviving sisters attended the wedding. His mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, did attend, as did his uncle, Louis Mountbatten. Philip's father, Prince Andrew, had died in 1944.)
Before the wedding took place, to finalize his association with the United Kingdom, Philip renounced any claim he might have to the thrones of Greece or Denmark as a member of the Glücksberg royal family, taking the "Mountbatten" surname of his maternal relatives. George VI then made him a Knight of the Garter and, on the morning of the wedding, created him Duke of Edinburgh, with the additional titles of Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, allowing him to style himself as His Royal Highness. He also formally converted to the Church of England, having been baptized a Greek Orthodox.
After their marriage, Philip and Elizabeth spent the next several years at Clarence House, a royal residence in London, and later in Malta on account of his naval duties. The first of their children, Prince Charles, was born in 1948, followed by Princess Anne in 1950. In 1951, with George VI in increasingly poor health, the couple began assuming more of his royal duties, going on a tour of Canada, and at the beginning of 1952 began an extended visit to the British Commonwealth.
On February 6, 1952, King George VI died at the age of 56. Philip and Elizabeth were in Kenya when they received the news, and immediately returned to Britain. Elizabeth at once became queen, assuming the title Elizabeth II, and plans were made for her coronation the following year.
Some small controversy arose over how the royal house would now be titled. Philip's relatives expressed the belief that it would be titled the House of Mountbatten, a title Elizabeth herself may have been willing to adopt. However, her own family and leaders of the British government (including Prime Minister Winston Churchill) prevailed on her to maintain its title of House of Windsor. This was accepted by all parties, though Philip was said to be disgruntled by the decision, remarking that he was "the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children." (Complicating matters further was the fact that "Windsor," like "Mountbatten," was a name only invented in World War I in response to anti-German sentiment; prior to that, the British royal family had born various German surnames.) In 1960, Elizabeth would issue a decree amending this decision; their male-line descendants who did not bear the title of Prince or Princess would have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor. Two of their grandchildren and one of their great-grandchildren currently bear this name.
As a Royal Consort, Philip's duties were to accompany the Queen in her capacity as head of state and to represent her on various occasions. He was in charge of the planning of Elizabeth's coronation in 1953 (successfully pushing to have the ceremony televised, the first time this had happened), and went on a sole tour of the Commonwealth in 1956-57. Shortly after his return, in February 1957, Elizabeth elevated her husband to the rank of "Prince of the United Kingdom"; from then until the rest of his life, he was officially styled as "His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh."
It was reported that Prince Philip died on the morning of April 9, 2021 at the age of 99, his cause of death is not confirmed, Buckingham Palace saying only that he died peacefully. At his death, Philip was the longest-serving royal consort in British history., he had served for 69 years as Consort at the time of his death.
Accusations of Racism
Within minutes of his death being announced on Twitter Philip's detractors began re-cycling old accusations of racism, thereby cynically and most unfairly overlooking the Duke's deliberate use of irony and his very well-known sense of humor. His most notorious remark in this vein, made to a group of British exchange students living in China, was: "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed," but his reactions to early Ethiopian art ("It looks like the kind of thing my daughter would bring back from her school lessons.") and traditional Nigerian dress ("You look like you’re ready for bed!") - the latter remark being made to, of all people, its president - provided his critics with plenty of additional ammunition, unfortunately. Similarly, his deducing (of a British tourist in Hungary) that "You can't have been here that long: you haven't got a pot belly" and, visiting Queensland's Aboriginal Cultural Park in 2002, his innocently framed "Do you still throw spears at each other?” provided, sadly, yet more grist to the mill of the present age's joyless, mindless, anti-racist left.
- Moody, John (August 3, 2017). Prince Philip, the grandfather of political incorrectness. Fox News. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
- Prince Philip has died aged 99, Buckingham Palace announces. BBC News. Retrieved 9 April 2021.