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The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Philippos of Greece and Denmark; born 10 June 1921) is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. He is a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.

He was born into the Greek and Danish royal families, but renounced his titles in March 1947 and adopted the surname of his maternal grandparents and the style "Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten". On his marriage, he was granted the style of His Royal Highness by his father-in-law King George VI, and was made Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich. Five years after Elizabeth became Queen, she made Philip a Prince of the United Kingdom in 1957. He is Britain's longest-serving consort and the oldest serving partner of a reigning monarch.

Early life

Philip was born at the Villa Mon Repos on the Greek island of Corfumarker on 10 June 1921, the only son and fifth and final child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. The Prince was baptised at St. George's Church at the Palaio Frourio (Old Fortress) in Haddokkos a few days after his birth. His godparents were his paternal grandmother (Queen Olga of Greece) and the Corfu community, represented by Alexander Kokotos, Mayor of Corfu, and Stylianos Maniarizis, Chairman of the Corfu City Council.

Shortly after Philip's birth, his maternal grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg, died in London. Louis was a naturalised British citizen and, after long and distinguished service in the Royal Navy, had renounced his German titles, and adopted the surname Mountbatten. 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 .

The war went badly for Greece, and the Turks made large gains. On 22 September 1922, Philip's uncle, the reigning King Constantine I of Greece, was forced to abdicate, and Prince Andrew, along with others, was arrested by the military government. 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. The British naval vessel HMS Calypsomarker evacuated Prince Andrew's family, with Philip carried to safety in a cot made from an orange box. He and his family were taken to Francemarker, where they settled in the Saint-Cloud suburb of Parismarker.

Prince Philip fluently speaks English, German and French. He doesn't speak Greek, as his family was exiled from that country when he was an infant, although he would later aquire some knowledge of the language and has stated he can understand certain amounts of it. He has stated that he considers himself to be Scandinavian, particularly Danish.



Philip was first educated in France. However, in 1928, and under the guiding hand of his uncle, Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten, the Prince was sent to the United Kingdom to attend Cheam Schoolmarker, living with his grandmother at Kensington Palacemarker and his other uncle, George Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven, at Lynden Manor. In the next three years, all his sisters married German noblemen and moved to Germany, his mother was placed in an asylum after being diagnosed as schizophrenic, and his father moved to a small flat in Monte Carlomarker. Philip had little contact with his mother for the remainder of his childhood. In 1933, Philip was sent to the Schule Schloss Salemmarker in Germanymarker, owned by one of his brothers-in-law, Berthold, Margrave of Baden, which had the "advantage of saving school fees". With the rise of Nazism in Germany, Salem's Jewish founder, Kurt Hahn, fled persecution and founded the Gordonstounmarker school in Scotlandmarker. After two terms at Salem, Philip moved to Gordonstoun. In 1937, his sister, Cecile, her husband (Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse), her two young sons and her mother-in-law were killed in an air crash at Ostend; Philip, then only sixteen years of age, attended the funeral in Darmstadtmarker. The following year, his uncle and guardian George Mountbatten died of bone cancer.

Naval service

After leaving Gordonstoun in 1939, Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy, graduating the next year from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouthmarker, as the top cadet in his course. He was commissioned as a midshipman in January 1940. Philip spent four months on the battleship HMS Ramillies, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force in the Indian Oceanmarker. After shorter postings totalling two months on HMS Kent, HMS Shropshire and in Ceylon (now Sri Lankamarker), he was transferred from the Indian Ocean to the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Fleet. Amongst other engagements, he was involved in the Battle of Crete, was mentioned in despatches for his service during the Battle of Cape Matapanmarker, and was awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour. Duties of lesser glory included stoking the boilers of the troop transport ship RMS Empress of Russia.

Prince Philip was promoted to sub-lieutenant after a series of courses at Portsmouthmarker in which he gained the top grade in four out of five sections. In June 1942, he was appointed to the V&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. Promotion to lieutenant followed on 16 July 1942. In October of the same year, at just 21 years of age, he became first lieutenant of HMS Wallace and one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. 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. He was present in Tokyo Baymarker when the instrument of Japanese surrender was signed. In January 1946, Philip returned to Britain on the Whelp, and was posted as an instructor at HMS Royal Arthur, the Petty Officers' School in Corshammarker, Wiltshiremarker.


Earl Mountbatten arranged, in 1939, for Philip to escort Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of King George VI. Philip was put in charge of entertaining the King's two daughters while the King and Queen toured Dartmouth Naval Collegemarker. Elizabeth—who was Philip's third cousin through Queen Victoria, and second cousin once removed through Christian IX of Denmark—fell in love with Philip and they began to exchange letters. Eventually, in the summer of 1946, Philip asked the King for his daughter's hand in marriage. The King granted his request providing any formal engagement was delayed until Elizabeth's twenty-first birthday the following April. The engagement was announced to the public in July 1947. Louis Mountbatten urged Philip to renounce his Greek and Danish royal titles, as well as his allegiance to the Greek crown, convert from Greek Orthodoxy to the Church of England, and become a naturalised British subject, all of which was done by 18 March 1947. Philip adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother's family. The day preceding his wedding, King George VI bestowed the style His 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.

Philip and Elizabeth were married in a ceremony at Westminster Abbeymarker, recorded and broadcast by the BBC. However, in post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for any of the Duke of Edinburgh's Germanmarker relations to be invited to the wedding, including Philip's three surviving sisters, each of whom had married German princes, some of them with Nazi connections. After their marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh took up residence at Clarence Housemarker. Their first two children were born: Prince Charles in 1948 and Princess Anne in 1950. Philip was keen to pursue his naval career, though aware that his wife's future role as queen would eventually eclipse his ambitions. Nevertheless, Philip returned to the navy after his honeymoon, at first in a desk job at the Admiralty, and later on a staff course at the Naval Staff College, Greenwichmarker. From 1949, he was stationed in Maltamarker, after being posted as the First Lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers, in the Mediterranean Fleet. In 1950, he was promoted to lieutenant commander and given command of the sloop HMS Magpie, after which he was promoted to commander in early 1952.

With the King in ill health, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were each appointed to the Privy Council on 4 November 1951 (making the Duke now the only remaining member of the council to have been appointed by George VI), after having made a coast to coast tour of Canadamarker. At the end of January the following year, Philip and his wife set out on a tour of the Commonwealth. However, on 6 February 1952, when they were in Kenyamarker, Elizabeth's father died and she ascended the throne. It was Philip who broke the news of her father's passing to Elizabeth at Sagana Lodge, and the royal party immediately returned to the United Kingdom.

Consort of the Queen

The Duke of Edinburgh accompanies the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II back from Westminster Abbey on her coronation day.

Royal house

The accession of Elizabeth to the throne brought up the question of the name of the royal house. The Duke's uncle, Louis Mountbatten, advocated the name House of Mountbatten, as Elizabeth would typically have taken Philip's last name on marriage; however, when Queen Mary, Elizabeth's paternal grandmother, heard of this suggestion, 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. The Duke 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." Only in 1960, after the death of Queen Mary and the resignation of Churchill, was an Order-in-Council issued that stated the surname of male-line descendants of the Duke and the Queen who are not styled as Royal Highness, or titled as Prince or Princess, was to be Mountbatten-Windsor. In practice, the Duke's children have all used Mountbatten-Windsor as the surname they prefer for themselves when not using a name derived from their highest titles (i.e., Wales, York, or Wessex); his male-line grandchildren, however, generally use a name of the area over which her father holds title. 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 parliamentmarker. In fact, however, he only attends the British parliament when escorting the Queen for the annual State Opening of Parliament, where he walks and is seated beside her.

Duties and milestones

As consort to the Queen, Philip was required to continue supporting his wife in her duties as Sovereign, accompanying her to ceremonies such as the State Opening of Parliament in various countries, state dinners, and tours abroad; in order to dedicate himself to this role, he gave up his naval career upon the Queen's accession. 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. 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".
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. "I haven't done anything," he complained. Philip had not interfered, preferring to stay out of other people's love lives. Eventually, Margaret and Townsend parted. For six months over 1953–54 Philip and Elizabeth toured the Commonwealth, again the children were left in Britain.

In 1956, the Duke founded the Duke of Edinburgh's Award with Kurt Hahn, in order to give young people "a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities". From 1956 to 1957, Philip travelled around the world aboard the newly-commissioned HMY Britanniamarker, during which he opened the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbournemarker, was appointed to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on October 14, and visited the Antarcticmarker. The Queen and the children remained in Britain. 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." 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. In a show of public support, the Queen created Parker a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, and created her husband a Prince of the United Kingdom, restoring the title of Prince that he had formally rescinded ten years earlier.

Philip decided to dedicate himself to the cause of the relationship of humans with their environment. Philip also started to carry out his own engagements, and became patron of a number of organisations, some 800 by 2008. He began to focus on industry, giving his patronage to The Work Foundation, touring factories, viewing the oil sands, and the like. He served as UK President of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961, International President from 1986 and President Emeritus from 1996.

Visiting 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."

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. Charles felt pressured by his father to make a decision, and did so, proposing to Diana in February. They married six months later. By 1992, the marriage had broken down. The Queen and Philip hosted a meeting between Charles and Diana, trying to get them reconciled but without success. Philip wrote to Diana, expressing his disappointment at both Charles's and her extramarital affairs, and asking her to examine both his and her behaviour from the other's point of view. The Duke was direct, and Diana was sensitive. She found the letters hard to take, but she nevertheless appreciated that he was acting with good intent. Charles and Diana separated and later divorced.

A year after the divorce, Diana was killed in a car crash in Parismarker 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. 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. The Royal Family's seclusion caused public dismay, but the public mood was transformed from hostility to respect by a live broadcast made by the Queen on 5 September. Uncertain as to whether they should walk behind her coffin during the funeral procession, Diana's sons hesitated. Philip told William, "If you don't walk, I think you'll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me?" On the day of the funeral, Philip, William, Harry, Charles and Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, walked through London behind the carriage carrying her casket.

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

During the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II 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. Over his fifty years as royal consort, however, Philip became notorious for making remarks during public visits which were regarded as offensive and/or based on stereotypes. Some of his now infamous remarks were immediately interpreted as gaffes; but other awkward observations were construed as merely odd, off-colour, or occasionally even funny. He is the oldest serving consort in British history, though Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (his mother-in-law), lived a longer life. On 19 April 2009, he became the longest-serving consort in British history (at 57 years and 71 days), surpassing Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III.

Health and reduced duties

The Duke carries out over 300 public engagements a year, more than any other royal except his daughter, Princess Anne. It was revealed in October 2007 that Prince Philip had been suffering from a heart condition since 1992; bodyguards protecting the Duke were trained to rush him to medical attention for symptoms as simple as dizziness and shortness of breath, even against Philip's own wishes. Though he started to take medication for the condition, the Duke refused to reduce his royal duties. In April 2008, Philip was admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital for "assessment and treatment" for a chest infection, though he walked into the hospital unaided and recovered quickly, and was released three days later to recuperate at Windsor Castlemarker.

Reports surfaced in August 2008 that Philip had been suffering from prostate cancer, which had been diagnosed in April of that year. Buckingham Palace refused to comment at first, but eventually Philip authorised the release of a statement indicating that, although the palace maintains the right of the Royal Family to privacy, the story was untrue.


Polo was a leisure pastime for Prince Philip in his youth and adult life; though he eventually gave up the sport due to age, he still competes in carriage driving, a sport which he helped expand, and for which he wrote the early rule book. He was a keen yachtsman, striking up a friendship in 1949 with Uffa Fox in Cowesmarker. He and the Queen regularly attended Cowes Week in HMY Britanniamarker. The prince served as president of the International Equestrian Federation during the 1960s and 1970s. He also painted with oils, as well as collecting the works of others, many of which are contemporary cartoons, and hang at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham House, and Balmoral Castle. This collection carries on a tradition of the Royal Family since the 18th century.Prince Philip is also a Freemason, and a member of Navy Lodge No 2614, a masonic lodge meeting in London with membership restricted to officers of the Royal Navy. In contrast to Prince Philip's usual precedence before all other British noblemen, he is considerably junior within masonic protocol to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England.

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 renounced these royal titles before his marriage, and was thereafter created as a British duke, amongst other noble titles. It was not, however, until the Queen issued Letters Patent in 1957 that Philip was again titled as a prince. When in conversation with the Duke of Edinburgh, the practice is to initially address him as Your Royal Highness and thereafter as Sir.

Honours and honorary military appointments

Upon his wife's accession to the throne, the Duke of Edinburgh was appointed to honorary military positions, including Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps and the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets, and Colonel-in-Chief of the British Army Cadet Force and the Australian Army Cadets. The following year, he was made Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal, and Marshal of the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. He has since been made Admiral, Colonel-in-Chief, Air Commodore-in-Chief, Captain-General, Honorary Colonel, Field Marshal, Marshal, Honorary Air Commodore, and Royal Honorary Colonel of at least 29 regiments throughout the Commonwealth.

Before he became consort, the Duke was appointed to the Order of the Garter on 19 November 1947. Since then, Philip has received 17 different appointments and decorations in the Commonwealth, and 48 by foreign states. The inhabitants of some small villages in Vanuatumarker also worship Prince Philip as a god; the islanders possess portraits of the Duke and hold feasts on his birthday.



Philip is currently the oldest living great-great grandchild of Queen Victoria, as well as her second-oldest living descendant after Prince Carl Johan of Sweden. As such, he is in the line of succession to the thrones of 16 countries.

Through mitochondrial DNA analysis in July 1993, British scientists, through a sample of Prince Philip's blood, were able to identify the remains of several members of Empress Alexandra of Russia's family, several decades after their 1918 massacre by the Bolsheviks. Prince Philip was then one of three living great-grandchildren in the female line of Alexandra's mother Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, the others being his sister Sophie (who died in 2001) and Princess Margarita of Baden.

His patrilineal ancestry follows:
  1. Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark (d. 1944)
  2. George I, King of the Hellenes (d. 1913)
  3. Christian IX, King of Denmark (d. 1906)
  4. Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (d. 1831)

  1. Friedrich Karl Ludwig, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck (d. 1816)

  1. Karl Anton August, Prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck (d. 1759)
  2. Peter August, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck (d. 1775)
  3. Frederick Louis, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck (d. 1728)
  4. August Philipp, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck (d. 1675)
  5. Alexander, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg (d. 1627)
  6. John II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg (d. 1622)
  7. Christian III, King of Denmark (d. 1559)
  8. Frederick I, King of Denmark (d. 1533)
  9. Christian I, King of Denmark (d. 1481)
  10. Dietrich, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1440)
  11. Christian V, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1423)
  12. Conrad I, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1368)
  13. John X, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1316)
  14. Christian III, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1285)
  15. John IX, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1272)
  16. Christian II, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1251)
  17. Maurice I, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1211)
  18. Christian I, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1168)
  19. Elimar II, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1143)
  20. Elimar I, Count of Oldenburg (d. 1108)


Name Birth Marriage Issue Divorce
Charles, Prince of Wales 14 November 1948 29 July 1981 Diana, Princess of Wales Prince William of Wales

Prince Harry of Wales
28 August 1996
9 April 2005 Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Anne, Princess Royal 15 August 1950 14 November 1973 Mark Phillips Peter Phillips

Zara Phillips
28 April 1992
12 December 1992 Tim Laurence
Prince Andrew, Duke of York 19 February 1960 23 July 1986 Sarah, Duchess of York Princess Beatrice of York

Princess Eugenie of York
30 May 1996
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex 10 March 1964 19 June 1999 Sophie, Countess of Wessex Lady Louise Windsor

James, Viscount Severn

Fictional portrayals

Actor James Cromwell portrayed Prince Philip in the 2006 Academy Award-winning film, The Queen.

David Threlfall played him in the 2005 British TV Movie The Queen's Sister.

A fictionalised Philip (in his capacity as a World War II naval officer) is a minor character in John Birmingham's Axis of Time series of alternate history novels. Prince Philip also appears as a fictional character in Nevil Shute's 1952 novel, In the Wet.


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

Forewords to:




  • Brandreth, Gyles (2004). Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage. London: Century. ISBN 0-7126-6103-4
  • Vickers, Hugo (2000). Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece. London: Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 0-241-13686-5

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