‘My Strength And Stay’: Remembering Prince Philip’s Life As The Queen’s Consort


Prince Philip has died at the age of 99

Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, who has died aged 99, was born on the island of Corfu on June 10, 1921, to Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.

The Duke of Edinburgh, whose death was announced on Friday, married the Queen at Westminster Abbey in 1947 in front of 2,000 guests.

She described him in later years as her “strength and stay”.

Always a controversial figure, the duke became infamous in his later years for making offensive comments.

His early years were marked by upheaval: the family went into exile following a military coup in Greece that overthrew Philip’s uncle, King Constantine I.

He moved to England to stay with relatives and study at Cheam Prep School in 1928, before spending a year at Salem School in south Germany, then finally enrolling at Gordonstoun School in Morayshire.


Prince Philip of Greece (left) rides with his cousin King Michael of Romania on the sands at Constanza in 1928

The Duke of Edinburgh married the Queen at Westminster Abbey in 1947 in front of 2,000 guests.

Another 200m people listened to the radio broadcast of the nuptials and thousands lined the streets to watch the spectacle.

The pair began exchanging letters in 1939 when Elizabeth was 13 and Philip was 18. They married two years after the end of the war. Within five years, George VI had died and Princess Elizabeth had become Queen.

The couple’s children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, were born between 1948 and 1964.

The prince joined the Royal Navy in 1939 as a 17-year-old cadet.


Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten after the announcement of their engagement

Awarded the Greek Cross of Valour for his courage in the Battle of Matapan in 1941, he was mentioned in Despatches, the official record of war, by his admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham.

By the time Prince Philip became engaged to Queen Elizabeth, he was a commander, after being promoted aged 21 to lieutenant, one of the youngest officers in the Navy to be second in command of a ship.

He took part in the course of the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, describing the experience of outwitting a Nazi bomber as a “frightfully good wheeze”.

After their wedding, he and the Queen – then Princess Elizabeth – lived together on the island of Malta for periods between 1949 and 1951 while the duke served on HMS Chequers with the Mediterranean Fleet.

Villa Guardamangia, a palazzo-style mansion on the outskirts of the capital Valletta, served as a much-loved base for the couple in the early years of their marriage. Their stay in Malta offered them their only real taste of life as a relatively ordinary couple.


Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, at Villa Guardamangia in Malta in 1949

They enjoyed parties, picnics and boat expeditions, and the princess was even able to take a trip to the hairdresser for the first time. In 2015 during an official trip, the Queen recalled: “Visiting Malta is always very special for me. I remember happy days here with Prince Philip when we were first married.”

Prince Philip had been known for his active lifestyle but had also suffered from a number of health problems in recent years. In April 2019, he became the third oldest royal in British history, overtaking Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, who was 97 years and 10 months old when she died in 1981.

Philip was largely living at Wood Farm on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, where he would busy himself by reading, painting, meeting friends and staying active. He continued to enjoy carriage-driving well into his 90s and was seen at the reins at the Windsor Horse Show in May 2019.

The duke made a rare appearance at a royal engagement the same month, joining the Queen and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough at a luncheon for Order of Merit members at Windsor Castle.


Princess Elizabeth and the Duke Of Edinburgh on their wedding day in 1947

The Queen and Philip welcomed their tenth great-grandchild in March with the birth of Lucas Philip Tindall to Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall.

The duke became infamous in his later years for making racist and sexist comments. He notoriously told British students during a 1986 state visit to China: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll be all slitty-eyed.”

In 1999, during a walkabout at an Edinburgh electronics factory, he remarked that a fusebox bursting with wires “looked as if it was put in by an Indian”. In Germany, he offended chancellor Helmut Kohl by addressing him by Hitler’s Nazi title, Reichskanzler, and offended Hungarians by describing them as pot-bellied.

In 2014, he joked “at least you are all legitimate” at a visit to a London family planning centre.

Philip had a dramatic start to 2019 when he was involved in a serious car crash.

The Land Rover Freelander he was driving flipped over after a collision with another vehicle carrying two women and a baby near the Sandringham estate in January.

The duke, who was miraculously unhurt, had to be rescued through the window by a passing motorist.

Philip faced criticism for taking too long to contact the occupants of the other car and for being seen driving without his seat belt in the days that followed.

The duke later apologised for his part in the incident and voluntarily surrendered his licence, with the Crown Prosecution Service announcing he would face no further action. He remained legally allowed to drive around private royal estates and was seen doing so in the grounds of Windsor of Castle.


The duke being playful with Anne, while holding Charles, in the grounds of Clarence House in 1951

And in May 2018 it was reported that the duke had suffered a fractured rib just days before the wedding of his grandson Prince Harry to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. That incident came just six weeks after Philip had a full hip replacement at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London.


The Queen and Philip attend a garden party in Paris in 2014

In July 2018, Philip conducted formal duties during an official state visit for the last time when he accompanied King Felipe of Spain, the Queen’s third cousin once removed, as he inspected the Guard of Honour, the 1st Battalion Irish Guards. 

Court observers noted that the duke kept up with Felipe’s brisk pace, though only just.

He completed his final solo public engagement, his 22,219th, at Buckingham Palace on August 2, 2017, where he met with members of the Royal Marines.

At the time, the Queen’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter cautioned those who saw the move as a sign Philip was fading away.

“Don’t write off Prince Philip,” Arbiter said. “Today might be his last diary engagement but from now on he’s taking charge on what he wants to do and when.”

But in his later years, the duke’s health appeared to have worsened.

He was hospitalised for five days after being taken ill following the pageant along the River Thames in 2012.

And he spent Christmas 2011 in hospital being treated for a blocked coronary artery.

Previously most of Philip’s ailments and injuries had been sports-related.

He suffered arthritis in his right wrist from playing polo and tried to dull the pain with Butazolodin, a drug more usually given to lame horses and recommended by his head groom. It was reported he later stopped taking it because of the side effects.


Prince Philip pictured at his final public solo engagement at Buckingham Palace in August 2017


Members of the Order of Merit the Duke of Edinburgh and Sir David Attenborough

He once said that he more or less followed the Atkins diet and he drank only moderately.

It was only when he reached the age of 82 that Philip decided for the first time not to take part in the Trooping the Colour ceremony on horseback. Instead, he travelled in a carriage with the Queen.

He was said to have found previous ceremonies so painful he had to lie on the floor afterwards to recover.

In August 2008, Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of speaking out to deny a report that the duke had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The newspaper involved later apologised, saying it accepted the story was untrue.

Those who suggested he was in poor health were given short shrift. “Do I look bloody ill?’’ he shouted at one Sandringham groundskeeper.


The duke served in the forces and paid a surprise visit to Iraq to see British troops serving in Basra in 2006


Prince Philip and Sophie, Countess of Wessex watch Lady Louise Windsor compete in the Private Driving Class during the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2019

The first public acknowledgement of his advancing years came as he was preparing to turn 90.

The Palace announced the duke planned to step down as president or patron of more than a dozen organisations ahead of his milestone birthday in 2011.

The duke is survived by his wife, the Queen, and four children, Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward, and his 18 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Prince Philip at George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, 2018

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button