Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, dies aged 99

Prince Philip has passed away this morning at Windsor Castle.

Prince Philip

Buckingham Palace has confirmed the death of Prince Philip at the age of 99.

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A statement from Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”

No official details have yet been confirmed regarding the Prince Philip’s funeral.

The Duke has experienced health difficulties in recent years and recently spent a month in hospital.

He was hospitalised in mid-February and left on 16th of March.

As the longest-serving consort of a reigning monarch in British history, Prince Philip will be remembered first and foremost as the Queen’s husband. For seven decades of marriage he was Queen Elizabeth II’s spouse, pledging himself at her Coronation in 1953: “I Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, do become your liege man of life and limb…”

But while he was consort to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh was never one to fade into the background. Outgoing, ambitious and determined, his achievements in public life were profound and will be long lasting.

Although he rarely talked publicly about his childhood, young Philip’s upbringing was marked by uncertainty and dislocation.

Born into the Greek and Danish royal families on the island of Corfu in 1921, Philip’s future took a dramatic turn when a revolutionary court unseated his uncle, King Constantine I. His father was arrested and banished, so the royal family fled – carrying Philip in a makeshift crib made out of a fruit crate.

Prince Philip
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Once out of danger, Philip began a peripatetic but privileged childhood, attending schools in France, Germany, and the UK and moving between the households of his royal relations. His father settled in the South of France, his four older sisters made their home within the German aristocracy, and his mother was soon committed to a psychiatric institution in Switzerland. She later founded an Orthodox order of nuns.

After finishing his education at Gordonstoun School in Scotland, Philip reached adulthood as war was breaking out across Europe. He joined the British Royal Navy in 1939.

It was in that year, while giving the King’s family a tour of the Royal Naval College, that the teenage cadet was re-introduced to 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth, who he’d not seen for five years.

The two exchanged letters during the war years, when Philip served with the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets, distinguishing himself despite his young age.

Philip returned to England after the war, and in 1946 he was granted King George VI’s permission to marry his daughter – on condition that they delay the engagement until after Elizabeth turned 21. In preparation, Philip was naturalised as a British subject and abandoned his old Greek and Danish royal titles, becoming Philip Mountbatten.

The young couple’s wedding day came on 20th November 1947. That morning, Philip was made Duke of Edinburgh. Observers reported that the Princess looked shy but beautiful, and her new husband seemed to be enjoying himself a great deal.

Millions of people around the world listened in to the celebrations and ceremony. As Radio Times put it, “The thoughts and loyal good wishes of the whole British people will go with HRH Princess Elizabeth when she drives to Westminster Abbey with her father in the Irish Coach on Thursday morning for her wedding with her sailor bridegroom. The day will be one of those great occasions when millions of men and women have a sense of shared emotion – when the pulse of the nation seems to beat faster.”

Princess Elizabeth’s “sailor bridegroom” remained in the Navy after their wedding and, just a few days before their first wedding anniversary in 1948, they had their first child, Prince Charles. Princess Anne followed in 1950, Prince Andrew in 1960, and Prince Edward in 1964.

When Philip married the heir to the throne, he knew that his wife would one day be Queen – but that moment arrived sooner than he had perhaps expected.

Prince Philip and the Queen
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In 1952, Princess Elizabeth and Philip set off on a five-month tour of Kenya, Ceylon, Australia and New Zealand, boarding the royal jet at London Airport as Richard Dimbleby described the scene for BBC Radio. Just two weeks later they would return in mourning.

On 6th February 1952 at Kenya’s beautiful Treetops hotel, it was Philip who broke the news to his wife that her father King George VI had died – and she was now Queen Elizabeth II.

After just five years of marriage they moved into Buckingham Palace. As consort, Philip had to leave active military service and give up his promising naval career. His position as husband of the Queen came with obligations – but also the opportunity to carve out his niche and make the role his own.

One of Philip’s enduring legacies will be the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Launched in 1956 in collaboration with his old headmaster Kurt Hahn and Everest climber Lord Hunt and now operating in more than 140 countries, it rewards young people for their participation in volunteering, athletics, practical skills and outdoor activities.

It was also Prince Philip who saw the potential of radio and television as a way of connecting the royal family to the British public. As early as 1954, his voice could be heard on the radio as he spoke to the Royal Aeronautical Society.

In 1957, he made not one, but two appearances on the front cover of Radio Times. In what was the “first time that a member of the Royal family has presented a studio programme especially for television,” the Queen’s husband fronted Round the World in Forty Minutes and The Restless Sphere. The shows reflected Philip’s own interests in travel, exploration and science, and also his desire to educate and communicate with young people.

The following decade the Duke of Edinburgh went a step further. As Radio Times later reported, “It was Prince Philip who engineered a renaissance. Largely at his instigation, the 1969 BBC documentary Royal Family used cinéma vérité techniques to humanize the Queen at work and play, including the famous barbequing-beside-the-loch scene at Balmoral.”

By the time he retired from royal duties in August 2017 after 65 years as consort, Philip had completed 22,219 solo visits.

People who knew him have described him as diligent, dedicated, pragmatic and irascible, and above all devoted to his family. But despite his unique position, Prince Philip always retained his independence and remained his own man with his own separate interests.

A keen athlete since childhood, he excelled at polo and then took up carriage driving, embracing the obscure equestrian sport; even at the age of 95 he could still be found driving his horses. He was an enthusiastic patron of numerous charities and developed a keen interest in engineering, innovation, oil painting and art collecting.

Prince Philip and Prince Charles
Prince Philip and Prince Charles
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Although he could not continue with active military duty, Philip retained a close connection with the Armed Forces. His positions included Admiral of the Fleet and Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

He may have pursued his own interests, but Prince Philip remained devoted to his wife.

According to those closest to them, the royal marriage was built on a strong foundation of mutual respect and the ability to make each other laugh – something which remained true after more than 70 years together.

“He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,” the Queen said at her golden wedding anniversary in 1997.

“And I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”

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Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is survived by his wife Queen Elizabeth II, and their four children, eight grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.