Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died on April 9, 2021 at the age of 99. He married the future Queen in 1947 and served tirelessly by her side for over 70 years, becoming the longest-serving monarch in British history. As Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, among many other titles, Philip was one of the busiest members of the Royal Family until he stepped down from official duty in 2017. Since then then he underwent hip surgery and was involved in a traffic accident in which his vehicle struck another car and overturned, although he was apparently not injured.
The longest love affair of the British monarchy began just before World War II, when 18-year-old Prince Philip of Greece met his third cousin, Princess Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of King George VI, during his family’s visit to the Britannia Royal. Naval College in Dartmouth, where Philip studied.
Then only 13 years old, Lilibet (as she was known to friends and family) was immediately struck by her tall and handsome older cousin. She “never took her eyes off him,” Elizabeth’s longtime nanny Marion “Crawfie” Crawford later wrote of their first meeting, as quoted by the future Queen’s biographer Sally Bedell Smith. , even though Philip “didn’t pay him special attention. . “
Born in 1921 on the Greek island of Corfu, Philip’s roots were as royal as they come: his father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, his paternal grandmother was a Romanov, and his mother was the former Alice of Battenberg, a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
But he had a difficult childhood, as political unrest in Greece forced his family into exile in France when he was still a child, and they lived in relative poverty (compared to other members of the royal family) . Too soon, Philip’s parents parted ways; her mother went to a sanatorium, and later joined a religious order, while her father spent much of his time playing in the south of France.
From the age of 10, the young prince therefore spent a large part of his time in various boarding schools and with relatives. He lived in Germany for a time, but was sent back to England in 1934 to attend the Gordonstoun School, founded by Kurt Hahn, an intellectual who had fled Germany to avoid persecution by the Nazis. Under Hahn’s influence, Philip prospered in Gordonstoun, and would later insist on sending his eldest son, Prince Charles, who hated him.
In 1937, when Philip was 16, his sister Cécile, her husband and their children were killed in a plane crash. Philip flew to Germany and marched in their funeral procession, surrounded by mourners in Nazi uniforms.
After graduating from school, Philip joined the Royal Navy. After this first meeting with the young Princess Elizabeth, the attachment between the two royal cousins developed during World War II, when Philip served in the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean and the Pacific. He received a military award for his service on HMS Valiant during the British victory over the Italian Navy at the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941, and emerged from the war as one of the youngest lieutenants in the Royal Navy .
In 1946, Philip proposed to Elizabeth at the estate of the royal family in Balmoral, Scotland. Despite Philip’s noble pedigree and war record, his status as an alien (including his sisters’ marital ties to prominent Nazi Party members) made him an outsider in royal circles and a controversial choice of husband for heir to the British throne.
On November 14, 1947, the couple married at Westminster Abbey and King George VI appointed Philip as Duke of Edinburgh shortly thereafter. Philip had renounced his title of Prince of Greece and taken his mother’s surname Mountbatten (the Anglicized version of Battenberg) when he became a British citizen.
During the first years of their marriage, Philip and Elizabeth had two children, Charles and Anne, and set up homes in a separate London residence, Clarence House, and on the Mediterranean island of Malta, where Philip continued his service in the Royal Navy. In 1950 he was given command of his own ship, HMS Magpie.
But after Elizabeth’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer, the couple were called back so she could take on an increased share of royal duties. In early 1952, Philip and Elizabeth were traveling to Kenya, then a British colony, when they learned that King George VI had passed away at the age of 56.
Barely 25, Elizabeth would now become Queen, decades earlier than expected. For Philippe, his wife’s accession to the throne meant making certain compromises. Although he wanted his wife to take his name, Mountbatten, Elizabeth’s mother and grandmother, Queens Elizabeth and Mary, vetoed the idea, with the support of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The young family also moved from Clarence House to Buckingham Palace, at Churchill’s insistence. (The couple are said to have two more sons, Andrew and Edward, in the 1960s.)
More painfully, Philip was forced to give up his naval career. “I had no ambition to be chairman of the Mint’s advisory committee. I didn’t want to be WWF president [World Wildlife Fund]», He told the Independent in 1992. “I’d much rather stay in the navy, frankly.
But his difficult childhood had left him with a strong sense of family duty, which would serve him well as a royal husband. In June 1953, when his wife was crowned Queen Elizabeth II in a televised ceremony at Westminster Abbey, Philip knelt before her and solemnly pledged to become her “liege man of life and member”.
According to British royal tradition, a queen’s husband does not become king; he is officially known as a prince consort. But in 1957, a decade after their marriage, Queen Elizabeth made Philip an official prince of the United Kingdom, reinstating the title he had given up before their marriage.
For more than half a century, Prince Philip has supported his wife in her royal duties and has taken on a series of ambitious obligations, averaging 350 official engagements per year, according to one estimate. He also ruled the Queen’s estates, including a country house in Sandringham, Windsor Castle and Balmoral.
Gossip has linked Prince Philip to various other women over the years, including actress Pat Kirkwood, writer Daphné du Maurier and Philip’s childhood friend, cabaret star Hélène Cordet. But such reports have always been vigorously denied, and no evidence has ever surfaced to prove a case.
Perhaps most famous, Prince Philip has earned a reputation for his conservative views and frankness expressed on the plains. The press once called him a “national treasure,” and his plain frankness made some people laugh, many others cringe at his more controversial and casually racist blunders.
In 2017, Prince Philip stepped down from public office, having maintained one of the busiest schedules for any member of the royal family. According to a statement released at the time, Philip, then 96, was “a patron, president or member of more than 780 organizations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role in participating in engagements. . In November, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
News broke in early 2019 that Prince Philip was involved in a car crash while driving near the Royal Estate of Sandringham, when his Land Rover struck another car and overturned. Two Kia women were treated in a hospital and released with minor injuries. Although his windshield shattered, the Duke was reportedly uninjured and was seen driving several days later (without a seat belt).
In February 2021, Philip was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London. Buckingham Palace said in a statement it was a precautionary measure recommended by their doctor after Philip felt unwell. Philip had returned home to Windsor Castle in March.
On April 9, 2021, a notice from the royal family ad, “Her Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”