London — Britain’s royal family has announced that Prince Philip died on Friday (April 9) at the age of 99. The late prince married his third cousin Elizabeth in 1947. After King George VI died in 1952, Prince Philip became British consort to the sovereign. He has taken up more than 22,000 solo engagements, 637 overseas visits, delivered an estimated 5,493 speeches and worked as a patron to almost 800 organisations. The Greece-born Duke of Edinburgh was the longest-serving consort to a British sovereign and was the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle,” the royal family announced. “Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.” Prince Philip’s demise came 12 days before the queen’s 95th birthday on April 21.
His passing ushers in a period of national mourning under a long-standing plan known as “Operation Forth Bridge”. The Duke of Edinburgh was referred to by the queen as “my strength and stay.”
In February he was admitted to the hospital after he was not feeling well. Buckingham Palace announced that the prince was treated for an infection and a pre-existing heart condition. After undergoing a heart procedure, the prince was discharged from the hospital..
The fall of 2017 saw the prince ending his official duties. He popularised the sobriquet “The Firm” for Windsor family business. In June 2017, he was admitted to the hospital for an infection and had to skip the Queen’s Speech opening the newly elected Parliament. The palace said that the prince was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital for previously scheduled hip replacement surgery, two days after foregoing Easter 2018 services at St. George’s Chapel.
His 10-day hospitalisation was a few weeks before the birth of Prince Louis Arthur, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s third child as well as the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018 at St. George’s.
Prince Philip was unhurt in a car accident back in January 2019 when his Land Rover overturned. He was 97 at that time and the crash happened near the queen’s Sandringham estate. Two women who were involved in the accident were treated for their injuries. The prince then turned in his driver’s licence a few weeks later.
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II had been living at Windsor Castle, west of London, throughout the coronavirus outbreak. He was supportive of his wife during an unprecedented time of social, economic, technological, political change and family crises. While the prince was the British consort, fourteen prime ministers held office – from Winston Churchill in 1952 through incumbent Boris Johnson.
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II weree the world’s longest-reigning monarch and they witnessed the transformation of a once-global British Empire into a Commonwealth of 52 independent member states, a free association headed by the queen.
The Duke of Edinburgh rarely made public statements in recent years and he hardly dealt with the media. Prior to this, he was known for speaking his mind at public engagements, at times making humorous remarks.
In the 1981 recession, the duke said: “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed.” In 1994, he asked a wealthy resident of the Cayman Islands, “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?” Then in 2001, the prince told a 13-year-old boy, “You’re too fat to be an astronaut.” In 2012 Prince Philip asked a mayor who used a mobility scooter, “Have you run over anybody?”
Prince Philip was born on June 10, 1921 on the Greek island of Corfu. He was the youngest child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Andrew is the son of King George I of Greece and was assassinated in 1913. He was a commander in the Greek army during the 1919-1922 war with Turkey. After Greece’s defeat, the family were exiled in 1922 and they ended up in France.
Prince Louis of Battenberg, Prince Philip’s maternal grandfather, renounced his German titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten, the Anglicised version of the German Battenberg and became a British citizen. In 1928 when he was 7, Prince Philip was sent to school in England. The prince stayed with his maternal grandmother Victoria Mountbatten and uncle George Mountbatten. His four sisters married German aristocrats, with three of them, Sophie, Cecilie and Margarita joining the Nazi party. One of Philip’s brothers-in-law was among those implicated in the 1944 plot to kill Adolf Hitler.
Historian Jonathan Petropoulos wrote a book in 2006 called Royals and the Reich. Philip stressed that he was never “conscious of anybody in the family actually expressing anti-Semitic views,” but he acknowledged there were “inhibitions about the Jews” and “jealousy of their success.”
In his teens, the prince joined the Royal Navy and went on to serve in World War II, including participating in the battles of Cape Matapan and Crete and the invasion of Sicily. He was in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, and would later receive the Greek War Cross of Valor for his services in the Navy.
At the age of 26, Philip tied the knot with his third cousin Princess Elizabeth, 21 in 1947. By marrying her, he renounced his Greek title to be a naturalised British subject. Elizabeth’s father, King George VI later made him the Duke of Edinburgh. As Philip was not a native son, the royal matrimony was filled with controversy. It was reported that the Queen Mother named him “the Hun.” Despite that, the couple got married in Westminster Abbey, and they received more than 2,500 wedding gifts from around the globe.
A year later, a son and heir to the throne Charles was born, followed by Anne, Andrew and Edward. The newly married couple was stationed in Malta for a short time because of Philip’s naval career. However, they returned when George VI died on February 6, 1952 and Princess Elizabeth became queen. Philip was then named as consort, and he followed the queen across the globe on domestic trips, state visits and Commonwealth tours. In 1953, Elizabeth was formally crowned queen in the first live television coronation to be broadcast globally.
According to CNBC, the royal couple then went on a seven-month international tour, visiting 13 countries and logging over 40,000 miles. Besides his royal duties, the duke became a qualified pilot and also played polo until his 50th birthday. He achieved many flying qualifications that included receiving his Royal Air Force wings in 1953, helicopter wings two years later and private pilot’s license in 1959. The duke has travelled to more than 140 countries in an official capacity.
“The great thing about my father is that nobody’s ever forgotten meeting him, so they’ve all got their stories,” Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, said during an engagement at Windsor Castle in May 2017.
“Wherever he’s been, wherever in the world — people remember him. You can’t really get a better accolade than that,” he added.
The royal couple’s reign also had to go through times of crises including the British monarch being shot at with blanks in 1981. Two years before that, the queen’s art advisor Anthony Blunt was revealed to be a Communist spy. Philip’s uncle, Louis “Dickie” Lord Mountbatten was killed by an Irish Republican Army bomb. The marriages of three of their children broke down in 1992. Andrew and Anne divorced from their other halves while Charles and Diana began a separation that ended in divorce four years later.
That same year a fire gutted Windsor Castle, one of the couple’s official residences. Elizabeth described that year as an “annus horribilis.” Prince Philip reported counselled Charles and Diana to reconcile but to no avail. Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed in a car crash, a year after the 1996 divorce. Philip successful encouraged his 15-year-old grandson William to walk behind Diana’s casket. Sixty years before, the then 16-year-old Philip walked behind the casket of his sister Cecilie after she perished in a plane crash.
“If you don’t walk, I think you’ll regret it later,” Philip told William, according to British media accounts. “If I walk, will you walk with me?”
Dodi Fayed’s father claimed that Philip had ordered the couple to be killed but in 2008 a London coroner rejected Mohamed al Fayed’s conspiracy allegations, ruling there was no such proof. The jury eventually decided that the crash resulted from grossly negligent driving by the couple’s chauffeur and the pursuit of their limousine by paparazzi. Since his marriage to Elizabeth, the duke has taken up more than 22,000 solo engagements, 637 overseas visits, delivered an estimated 5,493 speeches and worked as a patron to almost 800 organisations according to the royal website.
The creation of the Duke of Edinburgh Award was one of the most successful associations and it is a youth self-improvement program that has been running for 65 years. At the age of 95, the palace announced in May 2017 that the prince will step down from his royal duties. In recent years the prince and the queen had gradually passed on their workload. Prince Charles as well as grandsons Princes William and Harry together with other family members assumed more collective responsibility until Andrew was effectively stripped of his royal duties in 2019 because of his association with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Harry stepped back as a senior royal in 2020.
On November 20, 1997 during the couple’s golden wedding anniversary, the queen said in tribute to her husband, “Quite simply, (he has) been my strength and stay all these years, and I and his whole family, in this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.” In November 2017, the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Prince Philip was presented the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order for “services to the sovereign” by Elizabeth during their private celebration at Windsor Castle.
Prince Philip leaves behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, and their children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. The queen and Philip also had eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, including Augustus Philip Hawke Brooksbank, who was born Feb. 9, 2021, to Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, and is named in part to honour the Duke of Edinburgh.
Prince Philip had insisted that he did not want the “fuss” of a state funeral at Westminster Hall, according to The Times of London. Instead, his body is expected to lie in St. James’s Palace, where Prince Diana’s body lay before her funeral./TISGFollow us on Social Media
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