Prince Philip 1921 - 2021

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's husband, died this morning aged 99.  A statement issued by Buckingham Palace just after midday spoke of the Queen's 'deep sorrow' following his death at Windsor Castle.  HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, the longest-serving royal consort in British history, was at the Queen's side for more than six decades of her reign.  Prince Philip of Greece was born on 10th June 1921 on the island of Corfu.  His father was Prince Andrew of Greece, a younger son of King George I of the Hellenes.  His mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was the eldest child of Prince Louis of Battenberg and sister of Earl Mountbatten of Burma.  After a coup d'etat, following the Greco-Turkish War in 1922, his father was banished from Greece by a revolutionary court, for treason, and faced execution.

A British warship sent by his second cousin, King George V, took the family to Italy, where baby Philip spent much of the voyage in a crib made from a wooden orange crate.  The Prince began his education in France, but at the age of seven, came to live with his Mountbatten relatives in England.  With war looming over Europe in the late 1930's, Prince Philip decided on a military career.  His family had a seafaring tradition and he became a cadet in the Royal Navy.  Whilst there, he was deligated to escort two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, during a Royal visit.  This first meeting made a deep impression on the 13-year-old Elizabeth.

During the Second World War, Prince Philip and the young Princess Elizabeth continued to exchange letters, and their relationship developed in peacetime.  In the summer of 1946, Philip asked the King for his daughter's hand in marriage.  Before an engagement could be announced, the prince needed a new nationality and a family name.  He had to renounce his Greek and Danish titles, his Orthodox faith, become a British citizen and took his mother's anglicised name, Mountbatten.  The day before the marriage ceremony, King George VI bestowed the title of His Royal Highness on Philip and on the wedding day he was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.  The wedding took place in Westminster Abbey on 20th November 1947, it was a 'flash of colour in a post-war Britain'. 

In 1952, the royal couple set off on a tour of the Commonwealth originally planned to be undertaken by the King and Queen.  While they were staying at a game lodge in Kenya in February that word came through that King George VI had died.  It fell to the prince to break the news to his wife that she was now Queen.  Philip was keen for the forthcoming coronation to be shown on television for the first time and Philip's idea grew on Elizabeth, who was anxious to show the country she was its leader and help break down British class barriers.  After deliberations, those who were reluctant gave in, the BBC would broadcast the event on live television.  The Queen's majestic coronation was held in Westminster Abbey on 2nd June 1953, Philip was the first to pay homage to the Queen during the ceremony. 

Over his long and active life, the Duke of Edinburgh was associated with 992 charities and organizations, from scientific and technological research to the welfare of young people and the encouragement of sport.  He was also known for his wit and humour.

A remembrance service for the Duke of Edinburgh will be held in Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday 11th April as the UK observes a period of official mourning. The funeral of Prince Philip will be held at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday 17th April. A national minute's silence will be held to coincide with the start of the funeral at 15:00 BST.  Only 30 people, expected to be the duke's children, grandchildren and other close family, can attend the funeral because of the present Covid-19 restrictions in place. 

To so many people living in the UK he will always be fondly remembered as 'Phil the Greek'.    Rest in peace Philippos  1921-2021