Without doubt, Prince Philip, famously known as the Duke of Edinburgh, will go down in history as the longest serving Queen’s consort. Royalty by birth as Prince Philip of Greece where he was born and Prince of Denmark where his family was exiled, he could not become King when he married the reigning British Monarch thanks to a longstanding rule in the royal family which decrees that a man who marries a reigning queen will only be referred to as a Prince Consort. That rule is so strong that children from that marriage are not even allowed to bear his name directly except in cases where the descendant has no styles and titles.
If not for the twist of fate that brought him to England, the Duke of Edinburgh was in the line of succession to throne of both Greece and Denmark. He became a member of the British royal family as the husband of Elizabeth II.
He was a soldier and sport enthusiast. He joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, aged 18. During the Second World War he served with distinction in the Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets. Philip left active military service when Elizabeth became queen in 1952, having reached the rank of commander, and was made a British prince in 1957.
In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, parents of the reigning Queen, toured the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. During the visit, the Queen and Louis Mountbatten (the famous Mountbatten of Burma) asked his nephew 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 when she was 13.
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. By March 1947, Philip had abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles, had adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother’s family, and had become a naturalised British subject. The engagement was announced to the public on 10 July 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. After their marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh took up residence at Clarence House. Their first two children were born before Elizabeth succeeded her father as monarch in 1952: Prince Charles in 1948 and Princess Anne in 1950. Their marriage was to become the longest of any British monarch. Just before the wedding, he was granted the style His Royal Highness and created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King George VI.
After his honeymoon, 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. 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. On 16 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 had ended in July 1951.
AS a sports enthusiast, Philip helped develop the equestrian event of carriage driving. He was a patron, president, or member of over 780 organisations, and he served as chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a self-improvement program for young people aged 14 to 24.
Prince Philip was born in 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. He was baptised in the Greek Orthodox rite at St. George’s Church in the Old Fortress in Corfu.
Philip was first educated at The Elms, an American school in Paris. In 1928, he 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.
Philip had four children with Elizabeth: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. The great grandpa died at the age of 99. May his soul rest in peace.