The United Kingdom is today in mourning following the announcement of the death of the Royal Consort, Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip. Husband of Queen Elizabeth, he was 99 years of age.
Philip was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on 10th June 1921 on the Greek island of Corfu. Owing to unrest in Greece following the loss of the Creco-Turkish War, Philip and his family settled in Paris, where he began his education. He went on to further education in various schools in England, Germany and Scotland.
In early 1939, Philip begun a term as a cadet at Darthmouth Royal Naval College in early 1939, graduating at the top of his class in 1940. He went on to be commissioned as an officer and to serve extensively with the Royal Navy throughout World War II. Amongst other events, he was involved in the Battle of Crete, the Battle of Cape Matapan and the Invasion of Sicily. He was in the Pacific Theatre with the British Pacific Fleet when the Japanese surrender was signed. In 1945.
It was in 1939 that Prince Philip first met Elizabeth, the daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. They fell in love and began to exchange letters. In the summer of 1946, Philip asked the King for permission to marry Princess Elizabeth. By March of 1947, Philip had renounced his Greek and Danish Royal titles and adopted his mothers surname of Mountbatten.
It was in July of 1947 that an engagement was formalised. With the marriage to Elizabeth, Philip took on his primary title, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh. The wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip was broadcast by BBC Radio on 20th November 1947 to over 200 million people around the world. They went on to have four children - Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.
Upon the death of King George VI, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II with the Duke of Edinburgh becoming the Queens Consort. In practice, Philip supported his wife in her role as Queen, accompanying her to various events such as the opening of Parliament and tours abroad. They were said to have a very strong relationship.
Prince Philip was known for his interest in conservation, nature, sport and education. He helped found the Duke of Edinburgh Award to encourage young people to develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and their communities. He was a patron of over 800 organisations, including the British president of the World Wildlife Trust and the British Heart Foundation amongst others.
Prince Philip took a keen interest in the affairs of the family and in a way could be seen as the patriarch for many years. He wrote to his son Charles in early 1981 with regard to his relationship with Diana, encouraging him to make up his mind as to whether he was to marry her or not. That couple subsequently got married but this marriage had broken down by 1992.
Again, Phillip offered his counsel to both Charles and Diana to try and repair the marriage but without success. This concern for the welfare of the Royal Family and his willingness to offer his advice and counsel when required was to be a common theme throughout his life. He played a big role in protecting Prince William and Prince Harry from media attention following the death of Diana Princess of Wales in 1997.
Up until recent years he has enjoyed good health, with only occasional hospital visits and procedures until recently. He formally retired from royal duties in 2017. He had a hip replacement in 2018. He voluntarily surrendered his drivers licence in 2019 after a crash, in which it was reported he was uninjured. He has had a couple of stays in hospital for various infections since then.
With the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and the oldest male British Royal on 9th April 2021, the United Kingdom mourns the loss of the Queen Consort, it signals the end of an era within many organisations who have lost a patron, and it marks a great loss to a family who have lost a father, grandfather and great-grandfather.