DDW are saddened to learn of the death of the His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke Of Edinburgh.
Not only was Prince Philip a prominent figure within the Royal Family and the longest-serving royal consort in British history, he was a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather and, of course, the beloved husband of Queen Elizabeth, to whom he had been married for over seventy years.
As the world continues to mourn Prince Philip in the days following his death, DDW would like to take a look at the life and work of a man who was an ever-present figure in the lives of so many – and who is often credited for his efforts to make the Royal Family more accessible and relatable to citizens everywhere.
In The Beginning
A royal by birth, Prince Philip was born in Corfu, Greece, on 10th June 1921. He was the youngest child of HRH Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenburg, as well as being their only son.
The family were forced to flee Greece in 1922 after Philip’s uncle King Constantine I was blamed for the Greece’s defeat in a war with Turkey, ultimately settling in St. Cloud, an affluent suburb of Paris. However, when the time came to begin his education, Philip was sent to school in the United Kingdom, his early school years being spent in Surrey.
It was during his time at Goronstoun School, Scotland, that Prince Philip would meet HRH Princess Elizabeth. However, it was not until five years later that the two would reunite during a family visit to Dartmouth in 1939. Philip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten, encouraged Philip to play escort to the princess for the evening, spotting the potential for a blossoming romance – of course, he was correct.
Unfortunately, the pair were unable to spend a great deal of time together over the following years – this was the dawn of Second World War, after all. Philip had a hand in the war efforts himself, climbing the ranks to become the first lieutenant of the HMS Wallace battleship at the age of just 21.
However, upon returning home at the end of the war, Philip became secretly engaged to to the princess, their betrothal announced on 9th July 1947. Just four months later, the pair were married in a ceremony that captured the attention of the nation.
A Beautiful Union
The following two years saw Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth start their own family, with birth of Prince Charles in November 1948 and the birth of Princess Anne following in 1950.
For a while, little within their day-to-day lifestyles changed, though this was soon altered by the realisation that Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, was suffering from a sharp decline in his health. Fearing that his life would be cut short in the near future, Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth began to step up to the forefront of the monarchy’s royal duties.
Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth were away on a royal engagement in Kenya when it was announced that King George VI had passed away – news that Philip delivered to his wife himself.
Upon their return to Great Britain, preparations were put into place for the now Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, with Prince Philip suggesting that the ceremony be televised in order to allow the public to feel more involved with the dawn of this new era for the Royal Family. It was the first time that a Royal Ceremony had ever been televised – something that continues to this day.
Of course, Prince Philip wished to help the public in his own way, as well as by simply standing by the side of the Queen. In 1956, Prince Philip launched one of his proudest endeavours, the Duke Of Edinburgh Award, which aimed to encourage young people to take part in outdoor activities – he met with gold award recipients several times throughout the decades.
The Queen and Duke Of Edinburgh’s family was completed in 1964 with the arrival of their youngest child, Prince Edward. It was five years later that Prince Philip would once again attempt to further endear the public towards the Royal Family by convincing his wife and royal aides to allow the BBC to film and broadcast a documentary following the family during their day-to-day lives.
While the documentary, designed to show that the family were ‘worth the money’ to UK taxpayers following debates with the government at the time, was received incredibly well by the public, the Queen herself was unhappy with the film – she believed that by allowing the public such an intimate glimpse into their family’s life, the public were bound to want more. Reports say, however, that Philip has always held the documentary in high regard.
The Royal Family were always much-loved by the public, though they ultimately found themselves at the centre of public outrage following the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Prince Philip is said to have been one of the driving forces behind the decision to greet mourners of the late princess outside Buckingham Palace, as well as having reportedly insisted on walking behind Princess Diana’s coffin during her funeral procession in order to support his grandsons, William and Harry.
In the early 2000s, Prince Philip continued to play a key role within the duties of the monarchy, maintaining his place at the forefront of many a royal engagement. However, his health began to decline with the 2010s, leading the Duke to decide to take a step back from royal duties.
Philip spent time in hospital on several occasions throughout the decade, treated for a range of medical issues including chest infections, blocked arteries and bladder infections. Though he always bounced back after a short period of recovery, it was advised that he began to take on fewer official responsibilities. While he continued to attend landmark royal events, such as the weddings of both Prince William and Prince Harry, Prince Philip gradually attended fewer royal engagements, eventually announcing his retirement in 2017 at the age of 96.
In the last four years, Prince Philip had lived a quieter lifestyle, spending much of his time in Norfolk at Sandringham Estate while the Queen continued to work at Buckingham Palace. The pair were unable to spend as much time together as they had previously since Philip’s retirement but spent the COVID-19 pandemic isolating together at Windsor Castle.
It was in this residence where he passed away peacefully on April 9th 2021, just two months short of his 100th birthday.
Tributes have been paid to Prince Philip by millions across the world, from cards and flowers left outside royal residences to letters of condolence from some of the world’s most prominent political figures. While he was a controversial figure to many, it is abundantly clear that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s commitment to Great Britain and its people was long-standing and entirely unshakeable.
For that, he will be missed not just by the Royal Family but by the Great British public, too.
HRH Prince Philip, 1921 - 2021.