Friday Jun 10, 1921 to Friday Apr 9, 2021
Greece, and United KingdomPrince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark; 10 June 1921 – 9 April 2021) was a member of the British royal family as the husband of Elizabeth II.
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 last 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.
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 Anglicised 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.
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.
In 1928, Philip 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 1937, Philip's 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.
In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. During the visit, the Queen and Louis 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 was appointed 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 HMS Kent, on HMS Shropshire, and in Ceylon.
Philip 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.
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.
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 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.
Philip is the 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.
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.
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.
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".
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, the Queen granted her husband the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom by Letters Patent, and it was gazetted that he was to be known as "His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".
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 rebuff Iwi.
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.
At the beginning of 1981, Philip wrote to his eldest son, Charles, counseling 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.
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.
The royal family's seclusion caused public dismay, but the public mood changed after 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.
During his wife's Golden Jubilee 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.
In April 2008, Philip was admitted to King Edward VII's Hospital, London, for "assessment and treatment" for a chest infection, though he walked into the hospital unaided and recovered quickly, and was discharged three days later to recuperate at Windsor Castle.
In August, the Evening Standard reported that he was suffering from prostate cancer. Buckingham Palace, which usually refuses to comment on rumors of ill health, claimed that the report was an invasion of privacy and issued a statement denying the story. The newspaper retracted the report and admitted it was untrue.
While staying at Sandringham House, the royal residence in Norfolk, on 23 December 2011, the Duke suffered chest pains and was taken to the cardio-thoracic unit at Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, where he underwent successful coronary angioplasty and stenting. He was discharged on 27 December.
On 4 June 2012, during the celebrations in honor of his wife's Diamond Jubilee, Philip was taken from Windsor Castle to King Edward VII's Hospital suffering from a bladder infection. He was released from the hospital on 9 June. After a recurrence of infection in August 2012, while staying at Balmoral Castle, he was admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for five nights as a precautionary measure.
On 21 May 2014, the Prince appeared in public with a bandage on his right hand after a "minor procedure" was performed in Buckingham Palace the preceding day.
In June 2017, Philip was taken from Windsor to London and admitted to King Edward VII's Hospital after being diagnosed with an infection. He spent two nights in the hospital and was unable to attend the State Opening of Parliament and Royal Ascot.
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".
In 2017, the British Heart Foundation thanked Prince Philip for being its patron for 55 years, during which time, in addition to organizing fundraisers, he "supported the creation of nine BHF-funded centers of excellence".
On 3 April 2018, Philip was admitted to King Edward VII's Hospital for a planned hip replacement, which took place the next day. This came after the Duke missed the annual Maundy and Easter Sunday services. On 12 April, his daughter, Princess Anne, spent about 50 minutes in the hospital and afterward said her father was "on good form". He was discharged the following day.
That October, Philip accompanied the Queen to the wedding of their granddaughter Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank, with The Daily Telegraph reporting that Philip works on a "wake up and see how I feel" basis when deciding whether to attend an event or not.
On 17 January 2019, 97-year-old Philip was involved in a car crash as he pulled out onto a main road near the Sandringham Estate. An official statement said he was uninjured. An eyewitness who came to the prince's aid described having to wipe the blood off his hands. The driver and a passenger of the other car were injured and taken to hospital. Philip attended the hospital the next morning as a precaution. He apologized, and three weeks later voluntarily surrendered his driving license.
On 14 February, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that prosecuting Philip would not be in the public interest. The Duke is still allowed to drive around private estates and was seen behind the wheel on the grounds of Windsor Castle in April 2019.
From 20 to 24 December 2019, Philip stayed at King Edward VII's Hospital and received treatment for a "pre-existing condition", in a visit described by Buckingham Palace as a "precautionary measure".
On 1 March 2021, Philip was transferred by ambulance to St Bartholomew's Hospital to continue treatment for an infection, and additionally to undergo "testing and observation" relating to a pre-existing heart condition.
Philip died on the morning of 9 April 2021 at Windsor Castle, aged 99, two months before his 100th birthday. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history. In private, the Queen described her husband's death as "having left a huge void in her life".