Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, the father of Prince Charles and the grandfather of William and Harry.
Prince Philip was born on the island of Corfu in Greece, on June 10, 1921, to Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg.
In 1922, Philip’s uncle, King Constantine I of Greece, was forced to abdicate after the debacle of the Greco-Turkish War. Philip’s father, who was working in the army, was accused of treason. The family was forced into exile and left the Greek island on board HMS Calypso, a Royal Navy gunboat. Legend tells how then 18-month-old prince was carried in a makeshift cot fashioned out of an orange crate.
Philip’s family went to France, where they settled in the Paris suburb of Saint-Cloud. Philip’s mother was eventually committed to a psychiatric institution while his father relocated to the south of France, maintaining limited contact with the rest of the family.
Philip attended the MacJannet American School before he was sent to the United Kingdom to study at the Cheam School. During the 1930s, he relocated to a school in Germany and then moved again to Scotland’s Gordonstoun School, founded by Jewish headmaster Kurt Hahn following the rise of the Nazi party. Many of Philip’s family members remained in Germany, including his sisters, who married into German aristocratic circles.
During World War II, he served in the British Navy while in-law family members were on the opposing Axis side of the conflict.
Philip married Elizabeth Windsor (Queen Elizabeth II) on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey, in a ceremony broadcast throughout the world by radio. On the morning of the wedding, Philip became the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.
He and Elizabeth eventually had four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. Prince Charles, their oldest child, is the heir apparent to the throne.
One of his lasting achievements has been setting up the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program in 1956, which recognises adolescents and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement exercises that include volunteering, expeditions, and other physical challenges.
Top 10 things you may not know about Phillip:
- At the time of his birth, he was sixth in line to the Greek throne.
- Despite being born in Greece, he doesn’t speak the language, but does understand some of it.
- He was awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour for his bravery during the War.
- Philip abandoned his Greek and Danish titles in favour of the more Anglicised ‘Mountbatten’
- Philip and the Queen are third cousins – both descendants of Queen Victoria.
- His marriage is the longest running royal marriage in history.
- Throughout his time undertaking engagements for the Queen, he became known for his many gaffes, often saying things that are deemed politically incorrect.
- Like his sons and grandsons, Prince Philip was a keen polo player, playing until 1971.
- He is also reportedly quite the foodie – and has been known to take over dinner preparations.
- Prince Philip is a passionate collector of original political and royal cartoons.
Prince Philip, the best present for your 100th birthday isn’t the congratulatory letter from the Queen but reapplying for your Greek citizenship.