British Royal Family

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh: A royal retrospective on Queen Elizabeth II's husband

He's been Her Majesty's loyal and loving companion for over 70 years and let's just say his CV is impressive...

By Chloe Lal

Prince Philip is officially the oldest-ever male member of the British Royal Family, and for very good reason, he's considered to be one of the hardest-working.

During Queen Elizabeth's reign, the Duke of Edinburgh has never been far from his wife's side.

Now, the man she has called her "constant strength and guide", has officially retired from royal duties.

In honour of the 96-year-old, we look back at Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh's remarkable life.

On their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, the Queen paid a touching tribute to her husband, saying: "He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years."
On their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, the Queen paid a touching tribute to her husband, saying: "He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years."

Who is Prince Philip: Early life and the making of the Queen's consort

Charming, suave and handsome to boot
Charming, suave and handsome to boot

Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born on Greek island of Corfu on 10 June 1921, to Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice.

When he was just a toddler, at the wee age of one-and-a-half, Philip's family relocated to France.

He kicked off his education in Paris before relocation to Berkshire, where he attended Cheam Preparatory School.

From there he went on to Gordonstoun, followed by the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.

We can see why Elizabeth fell in love.
We can see why Elizabeth fell in love.

Falling in love with Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen of England

He was a celebrated naval officer
He was a celebrated naval officer

The handsome blonde was a navy cadet when he captured the-then Princess Elizabeth's attention.

The duo may have met in 1934 but after years of writing each other, the future Queen was just 13, when she discovered she was smitten with her distant cousin.

It's believed Elizabeth's parents King George and Queen Elisabeth felt there daughter was too young to be so taken with Philip.

But the love-struck teen had fallen, and it was rumoured that she kept a photograph of her beau, by her bed.

The Duke always puts his wife first.
The Duke always puts his wife first.

The couple's romance could not be stopped.

In the ultimate act of sacrifice, Prince Philip renounced his right to the Greek and Danish thrones. He also abandoned his father's name of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, taking on his mother's surname and becoming Philip Mountbatten.

In July 1947, the entire world had celebrated the official announcement that the former heir to the Greek and Danish monarch was betrothed to England's future Queen.

Prince Philip married Princess Elizabeth II that same year, on 20 November 1947.

Their wedding was celebrated across all the kingdoms!
Their wedding was celebrated across all the kingdoms!

Prince Philip's official royal titles

The day before the union, King George VI bestowed the title of Royal Highness onto his son-in-law.

Following the wedding, Prince Philip was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in the County of London.

What was the Duke of Edinburgh’s military rank?

Philip was just 18-years-old when he joined the royal navy, back in 1939.

Serving in World War II, he was made a midshipman at the start of 1940.

The royal served on the battleship HMS Ramillies, before being posted on HMS Kent and HMS Shropshire.

Philip moved up the ranks eventually becoming a lieutenant in July 1942.

A ruler of the seas
A ruler of the seas

A man with many accomplishments, that same year he became the first lieutenant of HMS Wallace.

At the tender age of 21, Prince Philip became one of the youngest men in the Royal Navy, to hold such a position.

A decade later, in 1952, the royal was appointed commander.

In 2011, the Duke was bestowed the honour of becoming Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.

Philip adored the Naval forces.
Philip adored the Naval forces.

Post War Career Highlights

The Prince Philip we love and know has an abundance of career accolades.

In his 96 years, he has been a patron for more than 800 organisations, severed as chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952, given 5,496 speeches and unveiled countless plaques.

Prior to his wife’s accession to the throne on 6 February 1952, Prince Philip had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy.

Sharing his charm and wit with all.
Sharing his charm and wit with all.

Once Princess Elizabeth became The Queen, the Duke sacrificed his career as a Commander in the Royal Navy to fulfill his duties as a royal consort.

Throwing himself into his royal duties, Prince Philip also showed his kingdom that he was a budding sportsman.

Throughout the 1950s till 1971, the Prince took part in charity cricket matches and was an avid polo player.

His duty to Her Majesty always comes first.
His duty to Her Majesty always comes first.
The couple in 1954.
The couple in 1954.

To this day, the Duke enjoys carriage driving, an equestrian sport he helped develop!

In 2004, the Duke spoke of his love for the sport in his book, 30 Years On and Off The Box Seat.

"I am getting old," he penned. "My reactions are getting slower and my memory is unreliable. But, I have not lost the sheer pleasure of driving a team through the British countryside."

Adding, "I have been fortunate to have had a longer innings than most, and I have no intention of giving up while I have a team of willing ponies and dedicated grooms."

The Duke of Edinburgh formally retired on August 2 2017, bowing out with a parade of the commandos at Buckingham Palace.

Philip in 1983.
Philip in 1983.

Prince Philip, the royal patron

He's joked about being an official royal ribbon cutter, but the Duke has done astounding work for many organisations including:

  • WWF
  • Britain-Australia Society
  • A Nature Trust
  • Abbotsford Flying Club
  • Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland
  • BirdLife Australia
  • Book Aid International
  • Centre for Maritime Studies – Lisbon
  • Charities Aid Foundation
  • Formula Air Racing Association
  • Ham Polo Club
  • Hull Kung Fu
  • London Metropolitan University
  • London Rowing Club
  • National Maritime Museum
  • Radio Society of Great Britain

Cheeky!
Cheeky!
He always makes people laugh
He always makes people laugh

Prince Philip: the husband, father, grandfather & great-grandfather

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's marriage has spanned seven decades, four children, eight grandchildren and five- great-grandchildren.

The royal duo are the proud parents to Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Last year, the Prince was the subject of an exciting TV documentary, When Philip Met Prince Philip: 60 Years of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

British actress Joanna Lumley shared that Philip's is “extremely affectionate, a go-to Dad”.

While watching rare and never-seen-before footage of the royal as a young father, host Phillip Schofield mused, “What’s lovely here is that you get the impression of a really fun, warm loving father. So often, we’ve been told, he’s stern and very severe."

“It’s great to see him as a fun, active young dad.”

We can imagine the Duke to be a wonderful family man.
We can imagine the Duke to be a wonderful family man.

Undoubtedly, The Duke has achieved so much, but for Philip, he prides himself as Her Majesty's loyal husband.

"Prince Philip is the only man in the world who treats the Queen simply as another human being," the monarch's former private secretary, Lord Charteris explained.

"Strange as it may seem, I believe she values that."

Prince Philip's daughter-in-law, Countess Sophie of Wessex, wife of Prince Edward, commented on the Duke's inspiring partnership with his wife.

“He has been a fantastic life partner for her,” Sophie remarked in the documentary.

"They make each other laugh!"
"They make each other laugh!"

"For her to have found somebody like him, I don't think she could have chosen better."

“I think it must be a fairly lonely place being Queen. As a female in the top job, it’s important to have somebody you can lean on, that you can discuss things with, that she can be open and honest with," the mum-of-two mused.

Adding, "And they make each other laugh - which is, you know, it's half the battle, isn't it?"

In 2012, Prince Harry observed, "Regardless of whether my grandfather seems to be doing his own thing, sort of wandering off like a fish down the river, the fact that he’s there – personally, I don’t think that she could do it without him, especially when they’re both at this age."

Their love spans decades.
Their love spans decades.
And still is going strong.
And still is going strong.

His brother Prince William remarked, "He makes her laugh because some of the things he says and does and the way he looks at life is obviously slightly different than her, so together they’re a great couple.

“One of the things I know that over the years they’ve loved is when things go wrong – they absolutely adore it because obviously everything always has to be right, but when things go wrong around them they’re the first people to laugh.”

While the Queen herself has professed, "He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my main strength and stay all these years."

"And I owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know."

In 1997, Philip gave a rare insight into his relationship, professing, "The main lesson we've learned is that tolerance is the one central ingredient of any happy marriage. It might not be so important when things are going well but it is absolutely vital when things get difficult."

"My job first, second and last is never to let the Queen down," he has sweetly said.
"My job first, second and last is never to let the Queen down," he has sweetly said.

Retirement & what's next

Hats off to you!
Hats off to you!

The Duke of Edinburgh attended his last official royal engagement on August 2, 2017, the Captain General's Parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

In a statement, released to the public, the Palace confirmed: "The Captain General’s Parade will bring His Royal Highness’s individual program to a conclusion, although he may choose to attend certain events, alongside The Queen, from time to time.”

The event, which marked the finale of the Royal Marines 1664 Global Challenge, was a fitting end to Prince Philip's royal duties. He was first appointed Captain General of the Royal Marines on June 2, 1953, in succession to the late King George VI.

It was a fitting end to Prince Philip's royal duties, after all, he was first appointed Captain General of the Royal Marines on June 2, 1953.
It was a fitting end to Prince Philip's royal duties, after all, he was first appointed Captain General of the Royal Marines on June 2, 1953.

The royal, who is known for his deadpan humour, went out with a joke, telling the Royal Marines they should be all be "locked up" for their madcap fundraising efforts.

While the father-of-four has officially retired, he may choose to attend certain events, alongside the Queen, on occasion.

The Palace said in a statement: "His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of The Queen."

"Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen. Thereafter, The Duke will not be accepting new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time."

We expect for now, he'll be enjoying a carriage ride around his palace, chuckling to himself.

Here's to your retirement!
Here's to your retirement!