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Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh - Biography

The constant companion of Queen Elizabeth II and the British royal family's longest-lived male was born in 1952, and died in 2021

Prince Philip smiling and looking to the left
Hannah Watkin
Hannah WatkinContent Writer
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Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, later Philip Mountbatten and later again the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II was born on the island of Corfu on June 10, 1921, to Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice, the eldest daughter of Louis Alexander Mountbatten. 

Early life

After his family left Greece when he was just one-and-a-half years old, Philip spent the first years of his life in France, where he attended school in Paris before being sent to Cheam Preparatory School in Berkshire. From there he went on to Gordonstoun, followed by the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. 

Meeting Elizabeth II

It was while he was training as a navy cadet that Philip caught the eye of the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth, who was a distant cousin. Although her parents, King George and Queen Elizabeth, urged her not to rush into a serious relationship, Elizabeth was smitten and kept a photo of the handsome young cadet by her bed. 

MORE: The Queen's fine romance: finding her Prince and their long and happy marriage

Marriage

In July 1947, when Elizabeth was 21 and by which time Philip had become a British subject and renounced his right to the Greek and Danish thrones, their engagement was announced. He also discarded his father's family name of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, in favour of his mother's surname - Mountbatten.

Though originally planned as a low-key affair, the royal wedding which took place in front of 2,500 guests in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947 captured the imagination of a post-WWII public starved of gaiety and romance and turned into a national celebration. Philip, now designated 'his royal highness' and awarded the title of Duke of Edinburgh, spent his first years of married life in Malta, where he was stationed with the Royal Navy. 

Children

Six days before the pair's first wedding anniversary, the couple's first son and heir, Prince Charles, was born at Buckingham Palace in November 1948. A momentous occasion, Philip marked the moment by dashing to his wife's bedside with carnations and champagne. Their daughter Anne arrived in 1950, with sons Andrew and Edward following in 1960 and 1964 respectively.

Personal interests

Prior to his wife's accession to the throne on 6 February 1952, Philip continued to pursue his naval career. In 1950, he was made lieutenant commander of the frigate HMS Magpie, and in 1952, despite his active naval career having come to an end in July 1951, he was promoted to commander. 

Following Elizabeth's coronation he assumed the role of full-time consort with all its incumbent duties. Patron of some 800 organisations, the Duke of Edinburgh was especially interested in scientific and technological research, conservation and the environment, and the encouragement of sport. Also keen on the welfare of young people, he launched the highly successful Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme in 1956. His most important role, however, was undoubtedly as a loving and supportive husband.

Death

Prince Philip died on 9 April 2021, aged 99. His funeral, which had to be held under COVID-19 restrictions, took place at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on 17 April. Following the death of her husband of nearly 74 years, Prince Andrew told the BBC that the Queen had described his passing as "having left a huge void in her life".

For more information on the British Royal family, click here.

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