Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark,[1] 10 June 1921),[fn 1] is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms.

Prince Philip
Duke of Edinburgh (more)
Prince Philip in March 2015
Consort of the British monarch
Tenure6 February 1952 – present
BornPrince Philip of Greece and Denmark
(1921-06-10) 10 June 1921
Mon Repos, Corfu,
Kingdom of Greece
Elizabeth II (m. 1947)
FatherPrince Andrew of Greece and Denmark
MotherPrincess Alice of Battenberg
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
 British Army
 Royal Air Force
Years of service1939–1952
(active service)
RankAdmiral of the Fleet
Field Marshal
Marshal of the Royal Air Force
Commands heldHMS Magpie
Battles/warsSecond World War

Philip was born into the Greek and Danish royal families. He was born in Greece, but his family was exiled from the country when he was an infant. After being educated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, aged 18. From July 1939, he began corresponding with the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth, whom he had first met in 1934. During the Second World War he served with distinction in the Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets. After the war, Philip was granted permission by George VI to marry Elizabeth. Before the official announcement of their engagement in July 1947, he abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles, became a naturalised British subject, and adopted his maternal grandparents' surname Mountbatten. He married Elizabeth on 20 November 1947. Just before the wedding, he was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. Philip left active military service when Elizabeth became queen in 1952, having reached the rank of commander, and was formally made a British prince in 1957.

Philip and Elizabeth have four children: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward. Through a British Order in Council issued in 1960, descendants of the couple not bearing royal styles and titles can use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, which has also been used by some members of the royal family who do hold titles, such as Princess Anne, and Princes Andrew and Edward.

A keen sports enthusiast, Philip helped develop the equestrian event of carriage driving. He is a patron, president, or member of over 780 organisations, and he serves as chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award for people aged 14 to 24.[2] He is the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch and the oldest ever male member of the British royal family. Philip retired from his royal duties on 2 August 2017, aged 96, having completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952.

Early life

Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark 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.[3] A member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, itself a branch of the House of Oldenburg, he was a prince of both Greece and Denmark by virtue of his patrilineal descent from George I of Greece and Christian IX of Denmark, and he was from birth in the line of succession to both thrones; the 1953 Succession Act removed his family branch's succession rights in Denmark.[4] Philip's four elder sisters were Margarita, Theodora, Cecilie, and Sophie. He was baptised in the Greek Orthodox rite at St. George's Church in the Old Fortress in Corfu.

Shortly after Philip's birth, his maternal grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg, then known as Louis Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven, died in London. Louis was a naturalised British citizen, who, after a career in the Royal Navy, had renounced his German titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten—an Anglicized version of Battenberg—during the First World War, owing to anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom. After visiting London for the memorial, Philip and his mother returned to Greece where Prince Andrew had remained behind to command an army division embroiled in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922).[5]

The war went badly for Greece, and the Turks made large gains. On 22 September 1922, Philip's uncle, King Constantine I, was forced to abdicate and the new military government arrested Prince Andrew, along with others. The commander of the army, General Georgios Hatzianestis, and five senior politicians were executed. Prince Andrew's life was believed to be in danger, and Alice was under surveillance. In December, a revolutionary court banished Prince Andrew from Greece for life.[6] The British naval vessel HMS Calypso evacuated Prince Andrew's family, with Philip carried to safety in a cot made from a fruit box. Philip's family went to France, where they settled in the Paris suburb of Saint-Cloud in a house lent to them by his wealthy aunt, Princess George of Greece and Denmark.[7]

Because Philip left Greece as a baby, he does not have a strong grasp of the Greek language. In 1992, he said that he "could understand a certain amount".[8] Philip has stated that he thought of himself as Danish, and his family spoke English, French, and German.[8] Philip, who in his youth was known for his charm, was linked to a number of women, including Osla Benning.[9]



Philip was first educated at The Elms,[10] an American school in Paris run by Donald MacJannet, who described Philip as a "know it all smarty person, but always remarkably polite".[11] 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.[12] In the next three years, his four sisters married German princes and moved to Germany, his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and placed in an asylum,[13] and his father took up residence in Monte Carlo.[14] Philip had little contact with his mother for the remainder of his childhood.[15] In 1933, he was sent to Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, which had the "advantage of saving school fees" because it was owned by the family of his brother-in-law, Berthold, Margrave of Baden.[16] With the rise of Nazism in Germany, Salem's Jewish founder, Kurt Hahn, fled persecution and founded Gordonstoun School in Scotland, to which Philip moved after two terms at Salem.[17] In 1937, his sister Cecilie, her husband Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse, her two young sons, Ludwig and Alexander, her newborn infant, and her mother-in-law, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, were killed in an air crash at Ostend; Philip, then 16 years old, attended the funeral in Darmstadt.[18] The following year, his uncle and guardian Lord Milford Haven died of bone marrow cancer.[19]

After leaving Gordonstoun in early 1939, Philip completed a term as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, then repatriated to Greece, living with his mother in Athens for a month in mid-1939. At the behest of the Greek king, George II, he returned to Britain in September to resume training for the Royal Navy.[20] He graduated from Dartmouth the next year as the best cadet in his course.[21] During the Second World War, he continued to serve in the British forces, while two of his brothers-in-law, Prince Christoph of Hesse and Berthold, Margrave of Baden, fought on the opposing German side.[22] Philip was appointed as a midshipman in January 1940. He spent four months on the battleship HMS Ramillies, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force in the Indian Ocean, followed by shorter postings on HMS Kent, on HMS Shropshire, and in Ceylon.[23] After the invasion of Greece by Italy in October 1940, he was transferred from the Indian Ocean to the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Fleet.[24]

On 1 February 1941,[25] he was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant after a series of courses at Portsmouth, in which he gained the top grade in four out of five sections of the qualifying examination.[26] Among other engagements, he was involved in the battle of Crete, and was mentioned in dispatches for his service during the battle of Cape Matapan,[10] in which he controlled the battleship's searchlights. He was also awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.[21] In June 1942, he was appointed to the V and W-class destroyer and flotilla leader HMS Wallace, which was involved in convoy escort tasks on the east coast of Britain, as well as the Allied invasion of Sicily.[27]

Promotion to lieutenant followed on 16 July 1942.[28] In October of the same year, he became first lieutenant of HMS Wallace, at 21 years old one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. During the invasion of Sicily, in July 1943, as second in command of Wallace, he saved his ship from a night bomber attack. He devised a plan to launch a raft with smoke floats that successfully distracted the bombers, allowing the ship to slip away unnoticed.[27] In 1944, he moved on to the new destroyer, HMS Whelp, where he saw service with the British Pacific Fleet in the 27th Destroyer Flotilla.[29][30] He was present in Tokyo Bay when the instrument of Japanese surrender was signed. Philip returned to the United Kingdom on the Whelp in January 1946, and was posted as an instructor at HMS Royal Arthur, the Petty Officers' School in Corsham, Wiltshire.[31]


In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. During the visit, the Queen and Louis Mountbatten asked 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.[32] Elizabeth fell in love with Philip, and they began to exchange letters when she was 13.[33]

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.[34] 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.[35]

Though Philip appeared "always to have regarded himself as an Anglican",[36] and he had attended Anglican services with his classmates and relations in England and throughout his Royal Navy days, he had been baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, wanted to "regularise" Philip's position by officially receiving him into the Church of England,[37] which he did in October 1947.[38]

The day before the wedding, King George VI bestowed the style of Royal Highness on Philip and, on the morning of the wedding, 20 November 1947, he was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in the County of London.[39] Consequently, being already a Knight of the Garter, between 19 and 20 November 1947 he bore the unusual style His Royal Highness Sir Philip Mountbatten, and is so described in the Letters Patent of 20 November 1947.[39]

Philip and Elizabeth were married in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey, recorded and broadcast by BBC radio to 200 million people around the world.[40] However, in post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for any of the Duke of Edinburgh's German relations to be invited to the wedding, including Philip's three surviving sisters, all of whom had married German princes. 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 is now the longest of any British monarch.[41][42]

Philip was introduced to the House of Lords on 21 July 1948,[43] immediately before his uncle Louis Mountbatten, who had been made Earl Mountbatten of Burma.[44] Philip, like his sons Charles and Andrew and other royals, ceased to be members of the House of Lords following the House of Lords Act 1999. He never spoke in the House.

After his honeymoon at the Mountbatten family home, Broadlands, 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.[45] From 1949, he was stationed in Malta (residing at Villa Guardamangia) after being posted as the first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers, the lead ship of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet.[46] On 16 July 1950, he was promoted to lieutenant commander and given command of the frigate HMS Magpie.[47][48] On 30 June 1952, Philip was promoted to commander,[49] though his active naval career had ended in July 1951.[50][51]

With the King in ill health, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were both appointed to the Privy Council on 4 November 1951, after a coast-to-coast tour of Canada. At the end of January 1952, Philip and his wife set out on a tour of the Commonwealth. On 6 February 1952, they were in Kenya when Elizabeth's father died and she became queen. It was Philip who broke the news to Elizabeth at Sagana Lodge, and the royal party immediately returned to the United Kingdom.[52]

Consort of the Queen

Royal house

The accession of Elizabeth to the throne brought up the question of the name of the royal house, as Elizabeth would typically have taken Philip's last name upon marriage. The Duke's uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, advocated the name House of Mountbatten. Philip suggested House of Edinburgh, after his ducal title.[53] When Queen Mary, Elizabeth's grandmother, heard of this, she informed the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, who himself later advised the Queen to issue a royal proclamation declaring that the royal house was to remain known as the House of Windsor. Prince Philip privately complained, "I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children."[54]

On 8 February 1960, several years after the death of Queen Mary and the resignation of Churchill as prime minister, the Queen issued an Order in Council declaring that Mountbatten-Windsor would be the surname of her and her husband's male-line descendants who are not styled as Royal Highness or titled as prince or princess.[55] While it seems the Queen had "absolutely set her heart" on such a change and had it in mind for some time, it occurred only 11 days before the birth of Prince Andrew (19 February), and only after three months of protracted correspondence between constitutional expert Edward Iwi (who averred that, without such a change, the royal child would be born with "the Badge of Bastardy") and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who had attempted to rebuff Iwi.[56]

After her accession to the throne, the Queen also announced that the Duke was to have "place, pre-eminence and precedence" next to her "on all occasions and in all meetings, except where otherwise provided by Act of Parliament". This meant the Duke took precedence over his son, the Prince of Wales, except, officially, in the British parliament. In fact, however, he attends Parliament only when escorting the Queen for the annual State Opening of Parliament, where he walks and sits beside her.[57] Contrary to rumours over the years, the Queen and Duke are said by insiders to have had a strong relationship throughout their marriage, despite the challenges of Elizabeth's reign.[58][59] The Queen referred to Prince Philip in a speech on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 as her "constant strength and guide".[59]

Prince Philip receives a Parliamentary annuity (of £359,000 since 1990[fn 2]) that serves to meet official expenses in carrying out public duties. The annuity is unaffected by the reform of royal finances under the Sovereign Grant Act 2011.[60][61] Any part of the allowance that is not used to meet official expenditure is liable for tax. In practice, the entire allowance is used to fund his official duties.[62]

Duties and milestones

As consort to the Queen, Philip supported his wife in her new duties as sovereign, accompanying her to ceremonies such as the State Opening of Parliament in various countries, state dinners, and tours abroad. As chairman of the Coronation Commission, he was the first member of the royal family to fly in a helicopter, visiting the troops that were to take part in the ceremony.[63] Philip was not crowned in the service, but knelt before Elizabeth, with her hands enclosing his, and swore to be her "liege man of life and limb".[64]

In the early 1950s, his sister-in-law, Princess Margaret, considered marrying a divorced older man, Peter Townsend. The press accused Philip of being hostile to the match, to which he replied "I haven't done anything." Philip had not interfered, preferring to stay out of other people's love lives.[65] Eventually, Margaret and Townsend parted. For six months, over 1953–54, Philip and Elizabeth toured the Commonwealth; as with previous tours the children were left in Britain.[66]

In 1956, the Duke, with Kurt Hahn, founded The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in order to give young people "a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities". In the same year, he also established the Commonwealth Study Conferences. From 1956 to 1957, Philip travelled around the world aboard the newly commissioned HMY Britannia, during which he opened the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne and visited the Antarctic, becoming the first royal to cross the Antarctic Circle.[67] The Queen and the children remained in the UK. On the return leg of the journey, Philip's private secretary, Mike Parker, was sued for divorce by his wife. As with Townsend, the press still portrayed divorce as a scandal and eventually Parker resigned. He later said that the Duke was very supportive and "the Queen was wonderful throughout. She regarded divorce as a sadness, not a hanging offence."[68] In a public show of support, the Queen created Parker a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.[69]

Further press reports claimed that the Queen and the Duke were drifting apart, which enraged the Duke and dismayed the Queen, who issued a strongly worded denial.[70] On 22 February 1957, she granted her husband the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom by Letters Patent, and it was gazetted that he was to be known as "His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".[71] Philip was appointed to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on 14 October 1957, taking his Oath of Allegiance before the Queen in person at her Canadian residence, Rideau Hall.[72] Remarks he made two years later to the Canadian Medical Association on the subject of youth and sport were taken as a suggestion that Canadian children were out of shape. This was at first considered "tactless", but Philip was later admired for his encouragement of physical fitness.[73] In Canada in 1969, Philip spoke about his views on republicanism:

It is a complete misconception to imagine that the monarchy exists in the interests of the monarch. It doesn't. It exists in the interests of the people. If at any time any nation decides that the system is unacceptable, then it is up to them to change it.[74]

Philip is patron of some 800 organisations, particularly focused on the environment, industry, sport, and education. His first solo engagement as Duke of Edinburgh was in March 1948, presenting prizes at the boxing finals of the London Federation of Boys' Clubs at the Royal Albert Hall.[75] He was president of the National Playing Fields Association (now known as Fields in Trust) for 64 years, from 1947 until his grandson Prince William took over the role in 2013.[76] He served as UK president of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 to 1982, international president from 1981, and president emeritus from 1996.[67] In 1952, he became patron of The Industrial Society (since renamed The Work Foundation).[10] He was president of the International Equestrian Federation from 1964 to 1986,[77] and has served as chancellor of the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Salford, and Wales.[78] In 2017, the British Heart Foundation thanked Prince Philip for being its patron for 55 years, during which time, in addition to organising fundraisers, he "supported the creation of nine BHF-funded centres of excellence".[79] He is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge.[80]

Charles and Diana

At the beginning of 1981, Philip wrote to his eldest son, Charles, counselling him to make up his mind to either propose to Lady Diana Spencer or break off their courtship.[81] Charles felt pressured by his father to make a decision and did so, proposing to Diana in February.[82] They married five months later. By 1992, the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales had broken down. The Queen and Philip hosted a meeting between Charles and Diana, trying to effect a reconciliation, but without success.[83] Philip wrote to Diana, expressing his disappointment at both Charles's and her extra-marital affairs, and asking her to examine both his and her behaviour from the other's point of view.[84] She found the letters hard to take, but nevertheless appreciated that he was acting with good intent.[85] Charles and Diana separated and later divorced.

A year after the divorce, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997. At the time, the Duke was on holiday at Balmoral with the extended royal family. In their grief, Diana's two sons, Princes William and Harry, wanted to attend church and so their grandparents took them that morning.[86] For five days, the Queen and the Duke shielded their grandsons from the ensuing press interest by keeping them at Balmoral, where they could grieve in private.[86] The royal family's seclusion caused public dismay,[86] but the public mood changed after a live broadcast made by the Queen on 5 September.[87] Uncertain as to whether they should walk behind her coffin during the funeral procession, Diana's sons hesitated.[87] Philip told William, "If you don't walk, I think you'll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me?"[87] On the day of the funeral, Philip, William, Harry, Charles, and Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, walked through London behind her bier.

Over the next few years, Mohamed Fayed, whose son Dodi Fayed was also killed in the crash, claimed that Prince Philip had ordered the death of Diana and that the accident was staged. The inquest into the Princess of Wales's death concluded in 2008 that there was no evidence of a conspiracy.[88]

21st century

During his wife's Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Duke was commended by the Speaker of the British House of Commons for his role in supporting the Queen during her reign. The Duke of Edinburgh's time as royal consort exceeds that of any other consort in British history;[89] however, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (his mother-in-law), who died aged 101, has had the longest lifespan to date. Philip is also the oldest ever male member of the British royal family, and the third longest-lived following Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.[90]

In April 2008, Philip was admitted to King Edward VII's Hospital for "assessment and treatment" for a chest infection, though he walked into the hospital unaided and recovered quickly,[91] and was discharged three days later to recuperate at Windsor Castle.[92] In August, the Evening Standard reported that he was suffering from prostate cancer. Buckingham Palace, which usually refuses to comment on rumours of ill health, claimed that the report was an invasion of privacy and issued a statement denying the story.[93] The newspaper retracted the report and admitted it was untrue.[94][95]

In June 2011, in an interview marking his 90th birthday he said that he would now slow down and reduce his duties, stating that he had "done [his] bit".[96] His wife, the Queen, gave him the title Lord High Admiral for his 90th birthday.[97] While staying at Sandringham House, the royal residence in Norfolk, on 23 December 2011, the Duke suffered chest pains and was taken to the cardio-thoracic unit at Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, where he underwent successful coronary angioplasty and stenting.[98] He was discharged on 27 December.[99]

On 4 June 2012, during the celebrations in honour of his wife's Diamond Jubilee, Philip was taken from Windsor Castle to the King Edward VII Hospital, London, suffering from a bladder infection.[100][101] He was released from hospital on 9 June.[102] After a recurrence of infection in August 2012, while staying at Balmoral Castle, he was admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for five nights as a precautionary measure.[103] In June 2013, Philip was admitted to the London Clinic for an exploratory operation on his abdomen, spending 11 days in hospital.[104] On 21 May 2014, the Prince appeared in public with a bandage on his right hand after a "minor procedure" was performed in Buckingham Palace the preceding day.[105] In June 2017, he was taken from Windsor to London and admitted to King Edward VII Hospital after being diagnosed with an infection.[106] He spent two nights in the hospital and was unable to attend the State Opening of Parliament and Royal Ascot.[107][108]


Prince Philip retired from his royal duties on 2 August 2017, meeting Royal Marines in his final solo public engagement, aged 96. Since 1952 he had completed 22,219 solo engagements. Prime Minister Theresa May thanked him for "a remarkable lifetime of service".[109][110] On 20 November 2017, he celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary with the Queen, which made her the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary.[111]

On 3 April 2018, Philip was admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital for a planned hip replacement, which took place the next day. This came after the Duke missed the annual Maundy and Easter Sunday services. On 12 April his daughter, Princess Anne, spent about 50 minutes in the hospital and afterwards said her father was "on good form". He was discharged the following day.[112] On 19 May, six weeks later, he attended the wedding of his grandson Prince Harry to Meghan Markle and was able to walk with the Queen unaided.[113] That October, he accompanied the Queen to the wedding of their granddaughter Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank,[114] with The Telegraph reporting that Philip works on a "wake up and see how I feel" basis when deciding whether to attend an event or not.[115]

On 17 January 2019, 97-year-old Philip was involved in a car crash as he pulled out onto a main road near the Sandringham Estate. An official statement said he was uninjured. An eyewitness who came to the prince's aid described having to wipe blood off his hands.[116] The driver and a passenger of the other car were injured and taken to hospital.[117] Philip attended hospital the next morning as a precaution.[118] He apologised,[119] and three weeks later voluntarily surrendered his driving licence.[120][121] On 14 February the Crown Prosecution Service announced that prosecuting Philip would not be in the public interest.[122] The Duke is still allowed to drive around private estates, and was seen behind the wheel in the grounds of Windsor Castle in April 2019.[123]

Personality and image

Philip played polo until 1971, when he started to compete in carriage driving, a sport which he helped expand; the early rule book was drafted under his supervision.[124] He was also a keen yachtsman and struck up a friendship in 1949 with Uffa Fox, in Cowes. Philip and the Queen regularly attended Cowes Week in HMY Britannia. His first airborne flying lesson took place in 1952; by his 70th birthday he had accrued 5,150 pilot hours.[125] He was presented with Royal Air Force wings in 1953.[126] In April 2014, it was reported that an old British Pathe newsreel film had been discovered of Philip's 1962 two-month flying tour of South America. Filmed sitting alongside Philip at the aircraft's controls was his co-pilot Captain Peter Middleton, the grandfather of the Duke's granddaughter-in-law, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.[127][128]

He has painted with oils, and collected artworks, including contemporary cartoons, which hang at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham House, and Balmoral Castle. Hugh Casson described Philip's own artwork as "exactly what you'd expect ... totally direct, no hanging about. Strong colours, vigorous brushstrokes."[130]

Philip's down-to-earth manner was attested to by a White House butler who recalled that, on a visit in 1979, Philip had engaged him and a fellow butler in a conversation and poured them drinks.[131] As well as a reputation for bluntness and plain speaking,[132] Philip is noted for occasionally making observations and jokes that have been construed as either funny, or as gaffes: awkward, politically incorrect, or even offensive, but sometimes perceived as stereotypical of someone of his age and background.[133][134][135][136][137] In an address to the General Dental Council in 1960, he jokingly coined a new word for his blunders: "Dontopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science which I have practised for a good many years."[138] Later in life he suggested his comments may have contributed to the perception that he is "a cantankerous old sod".[139]

The historian David Starkey described him as a kind of "HRH Victor Meldrew".[140] For example, in May 1999, British newspapers accused Philip of insulting deaf children at a pop concert in Wales by saying, "No wonder you are deaf listening to this row."[141] Later Philip wrote, "The story is largely invention. It so happens that my mother was quite seriously deaf and I have been Patron of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf for ages, so it's hardly likely that I would do any such thing."[142] When he and the Queen met Stephen Menary, an army cadet blinded by an IRA bomb, and the Queen enquired how much sight he retained, Philip quipped: "Not a lot, judging by the tie he's wearing." Menary later said: "I think he just tries to put people at ease by trying to make a joke. I certainly didn't take any offence."[143]

During a state visit to China in 1986, in a private conversation with British students from Xi'an's North West University, Philip joked, "If you stay here much longer, you'll go slit-eyed."[144] The British press reported on the remark as indicative of racial intolerance, but the Chinese authorities were reportedly unconcerned. Chinese students studying in the UK, an official explained, were often told in jest not to stay away too long, lest they go "round-eyed".[145] His comment had no effect on Sino-British relations, but it shaped his own reputation.[146]


Philip has been portrayed by several actors including Stewart Granger (The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, 1982), Christopher Lee (Charles & Diana: A Royal Love Story, 1982), David Threlfall (The Queen's Sister, 2005), James Cromwell (The Queen, 2006), and Matt Smith, Finn Elliot and Tobias Menzies (The Crown, 2016 onwards).[147]

Prince Philip appears as a fictional character in Nevil Shute's novel In the Wet (1952), Paul Gallico's novel Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Moscow (1974), Tom Clancy's novel Patriot Games (1987), and Sue Townsend's novel The Queen and I (1992).[148]


The prince has authored a number of books:

  • Selected Speeches – 1948–55 (1957, revised paperback edition published by Nabu Press in 2011) ISBN 978-1245671330
  • Selected Speeches – 1956–59 (1960)
  • Birds from Britannia (1962) (published in the United States as Seabirds from Southern Waters) ISBN 978-1163699294
  • Wildlife Crisis with James Fisher (1970) ISBN 978-0402125112
  • The Environmental Revolution: Speeches on Conservation, 1962–1977 (1978) ISBN 978-0846414537
  • Competition Carriage Driving (1982) (published in France 1984, second edition 1984, revised edition 1994) ISBN 978-0851315942
  • A Question of Balance (1982) ISBN 978-0859550871
  • Men, Machines and Sacred Cows (1984) ISBN 978-0241111741
  • A Windsor Correspondence with Michael Mann (1984) ISBN 978-0859551083
  • Down to Earth: Collected Writings and Speeches on Man and the Natural World 1961–87 (1988) (paperback edition 1989, Japanese edition 1992) ISBN 978-0828907118
  • Survival or Extinction: A Christian Attitude to the Environment with Michael Mann (1989) ISBN 978-0859551588
  • Driving and Judging Dressage (1996) ISBN 978-0851316666
  • 30 Years On, and Off, the Box Seat (2004) ISBN 978-0851318981

Forewords to:

  • Royal Australian Navy 1911–1961 Jubilee Souvenir issued by authority of the Department of the Navy, Canberra (1961)
  • The Concise British Flora in Colour by William Keble Martin, Ebury Press/ Michael Joseph (1965)
  • Kurt Hahn by Hermann Röhrs and Hilary Tunstall-Behrens (1970)
  • The Art of Driving by Max Pape (1982) ISBN 978-0851313399
  • National Maritime Museum Guide to Maritime Britain by Keith Wheatley, (2000)
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia: The Official History by Richard Johnstone-Bryden, Conway Maritime Press (2003) ISBN 978-0851779379
  • 1953: The Crowning Year of Sport by Jonathan Rice, (2003)
  • British Flags and Emblems by Graham Bartram, Tuckwell Press (2004) ISBN 978-1862322974
  • Chariots of War by Robert Hobson, Ulric Publication (2004) ISBN 978-0954199715
  • RMS Queen Mary 2 Manual: An Insight into the Design, Construction and Operation of the World's Largest Ocean Liner by Stephen Payne, Haynes Publishing (2014)
  • The Triumph of a Great Tradition: The Story of Cunard's 175 Years by Eric Flounders and Michael Gallagher, Lily Publications (2014)

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Philip has held a number of titles throughout his life. Originally holding the title and style of a prince of Greece and Denmark, Philip abandoned these royal titles prior to his marriage, and was thereafter created a British duke, among other noble titles. The Queen formally issued letters patent in 1957 making Philip a British prince.[71]

When addressing the Duke of Edinburgh, as with any male member of the royal family except the monarch, the rules of etiquette are to address him the first time as Your Royal Highness, and thereafter as Sir.[149]

Honours and honorary military appointments

The Duke of Edinburgh was appointed by King George VI to the Order of the Garter on 19 November 1947, the eve of his wedding. Since then, Philip has received 17 different appointments and decorations in the Commonwealth, and 48 from foreign states. The inhabitants of some villages on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu worship Prince Philip as a god; the islanders possess portraits of the Duke and hold feasts on his birthday.[150]

Upon his wife's accession to the throne in 1952, the Duke was appointed Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the British Army Cadet Force, and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps.[151] The following year, he was appointed to the equivalent positions in Canada and made Admiral of the Fleet, Captain General Royal Marines, Field Marshal, and Marshal of the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom.[152] Subsequent military appointments were made in New Zealand and Australia.[153] In 1975, he was appointed Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, a position he handed over to his son Andrew in 2017.[154] On 16 December 2015, his role as Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief was handed over to the Duchess of Cambridge.

To celebrate his 90th birthday, the Queen appointed him Lord High Admiral,[155] as well as to the highest ranks available in all three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces.[156]

On their 70th wedding anniversary, 20 November 2017, the Queen appointed him Knight Grand Cross (GCVO) of the Royal Victorian Order, making him the first British national since his uncle Earl Mountbatten of Burma to be entitled to wear the breast stars of four orders of chivalry in the United Kingdom.[157]


Coat of arms of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Following his marriage to Princess Elizabeth until 1949, Prince Philip's arms featured a differenced version of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, derived from his ancestor Princess Alice.[158]
Unlike the arms used by other members of the royal family, the Duke's arms no longer features the royal arms of the United Kingdom, as he was granted new arms by King George VI in 1949. However, they do feature elements representing Greece and Denmark, from which he is descended in the male line; the Mountbatten family arms, from which he is descended in the female line; and the City of Edinburgh.
19 November 1947
Issuant from a ducal coronet Or, a plume of five ostrich feathers alternately Sable and Argent;
Mantling Or and ermine
Upon a coronet of a son of the sovereign Proper, the royal helm Or[159]
From 1949:
Quarterly: First Or, semée of hearts Gules, three lions passant in pale Azure (For Denmark), Second Azure, a cross Argent (For Greece), Third Argent, two pallets Sable (For Battenberg or Mountbatten), Fourth Argent, upon a rock Proper a castle triple towered Sable, masoned Argent, windows, port, turret-caps and vanes Gules (For Edinburgh), the whole surrounded by the Garter.[159]
Dexter, a representation of a wild man girt about the loins with a lion skin, crowned with a chaplet of oak leaves, holding in the dexter hand a club Proper (from the Danish and Greek royal coat of arms); sinister, a lion queue fourchée ducally crowned Or and gorged with a naval coronet Azure;
The Order of the Garter ribbon
(Shamed be he who thinks evil of it)
A banner of the Duke's arms is used as his personal standard.[160]
The arms of Denmark and Greece, represent the Duke of Edinburgh's familial lineage. The arms of the City of Edinburgh represent Philip's dukedom. The naval crown collar alludes to the Duke's naval career.
Previous versions

From 1947 to 1949:
"Arms of Greece surmounted by an inescutcheon of the arms of Denmark; and over all in the first quarter the arms of Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria, viz, the Royal Arms differenced with a label of three points argent, the middle point charged with a rose gules and each of the others with an ermine spot. The shield is encircled by the Garter and ensigned with a princely coronet of crosses pattée and fleurs-de-lis, above which is placed a barred helm affronte, and thereon the crest; out of a ducal coronet or, a plume of five ostrich feathers alternately sable and argent. The supporters are, dexter, the figure of Hercules proper, and sinister, a lion queue fourche ducally crowned or, gorged with a naval coronet azure."[158]


Name Birth Marriage Their children Their grandchildren
Date Spouse
Charles, Prince of Wales 14 November 1948 29 July 1981
Divorced 28 August 1996
Lady Diana Spencer Prince William, Duke of Cambridge Prince George of Cambridge
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
Prince Louis of Cambridge
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex Archie Mountbatten-Windsor
9 April 2005 Camilla Parker Bowles None
Anne, Princess Royal 15 August 1950 14 November 1973
Divorced 28 April 1992
Mark Phillips Peter Phillips Savannah Phillips
Isla Phillips
Zara Tindall Mia Tindall
Lena Tindall
12 December 1992 Timothy Laurence None
Prince Andrew, Duke of York 19 February 1960 23 July 1986
Divorced 30 May 1996
Sarah Ferguson Princess Beatrice of York None
Princess Eugenie, Mrs Jack Brooksbank None
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex 10 March 1964 19 June 1999 Sophie Rhys-Jones Lady Louise Windsor None
James, Viscount Severn None


Both Philip and Queen Elizabeth II are great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria, Elizabeth by descent from Victoria's eldest son, King Edward VII, and Philip by descent from Victoria's second daughter, Princess Alice. Both are also descended from King Christian IX of Denmark.

Philip is also related to the House of Romanov through both of his parents. He is a direct descendant of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia via his paternal grandmother Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia.[161] and his maternal grandmother, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, was a sister of Alexandra Feodorovna (Alix of Hesse), wife of Emperor Nicholas II.

In 1993, scientists were able to confirm the identity of the remains of several members of the Romanov family, more than 70 years after their massacre in 1918, by comparing their mitochondrial DNA to living matrilineal relatives, including Philip. Philip, Alexandra, and her children are all descended from Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, the daughter of Queen Victoria, through a purely female line.[162]


  1. He was born on 10 June 1921 according to the Gregorian calendar. Until 1 March 1923, Greece used the Julian calendar, in which the date is 28 May 1921.
  2. The amount was set by the Civil List (Increase of Financial Provision) Order 1990. It was initially set at £40,000 in the Civil List Act 1952, raised to £65,000 by the Civil List Act 1972, and raised to £165,000 by the Civil List (Increase of Financial Provision) Order 1984.


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  • Alexandra of Yugoslavia (1959). Prince Philip: A Family Portrait. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
  • Boothroyd, Basil (1971). Prince Philip: An Informal Biography. New York: McCall. ISBN 0-841-50116-5
  • Brandreth, Gyles (2004). Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage. London: Century. ISBN 0-7126-6103-4
  • Eade, Philip (2011). Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-1-250-01363-7
  • Heald, Tim (1991). The Duke: A Portrait of Prince Philip. London: Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-54607-7
  • Lacey, Robert (2002). Royal: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. London: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-85940-0
  • Vickers, Hugo (2000). Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece. London: Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 0-241-13686-5
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Born: 10 June 1921
British royalty
Preceded by
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
as queen consort
Consort of the British monarch
6 February 1952 – present
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Duke of Edinburgh
The Prince of Wales
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of
Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh
Succeeded by
The Princess Royal
New institution Chancellor of the University of Salford
Succeeded by
The Duchess of York
Preceded by
The Lord Adrian
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
The Lord Sainsbury of Turville
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Queen Mary
Grand Master of the Order of the British Empire
24 March 1953 – present
Preceded by
King George VI
Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Cambridge
As Air Commandant
Military offices
Preceded by
Queen Elizabeth II
Lord High Admiral
10 June 2011 – present
Lines of succession
Preceded by
India Hicks
Line of succession to the British throne
(descended from Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria)
Succeeded by
The Margrave of Baden
Order of precedence
Preceded by
The Sovereign
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom Followed by
The Prince of Wales,
Duke of Rothesay

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