He escaped war-torn Greece in a cot crafted from an unused fruit box and went on to save lives in the Second World War but such feats paled in comparison with perhaps his greatest achievement of all – winning over the affections of a young Queen Elizabeth.
Prince Philip’s family fled
His charm, wit and dashing good looks won over the hearts of a nation and earned him the affections of a young soon-to-be Queen.
As a young war hero, Philip won round Hollywood actresses, British socialites and eventually a 17-year-old Elizabeth Windsor.
He would later write emotionally-wrought letters, telling the Princess how falling in love with her so ‘completely’ had made his personal troubles and even those of the world ‘seem small and petty’.
He found it difficult to put his feelings into words, describing in another message after they had spent time together how he felt incapable of ‘showing you the gratitude that I feel’.
And he told the Queen Mother in the year of her daughter’s wedding to him how ‘Lilibet’ was the ‘only thing in this world which is absolutely real to me’.
With his mother in a psychiatric clinic and his exiled father mostly absent, Philip spent his early years living with various relatives.
Despite this and a succession of family tragedies, he emerged charming and uncomplaining, though prone to occasional volcanic outbursts.
At 21, he was one of the youngest 1st lieutenants in the Royal Navy and was praised for his role in the Second World War. In July 1943, he devised a clever plan to deflect enemy aircraft, saving the lives of sailors on board the destroyer HMS Wallace.
Following the news of the Prince’s death aged 99, MailOnline follows Philip’s remarkable journey from exile to Buckingham Palace.
Prince Philip of Greece, later to become the Duke of Edinburgh, being held by Princess Alice of Greece, as a baby in 1921
Born at the family home, Mon Repos – allegedly on the kitchen table – on the Greek island of Corfu on June 10 1921, Philip, along with the rest of his family, had to leave when he was just one year old. Evacuated on a British warship, the blond, blue-eyed Prince was carried into exile in a makeshift cot made from an old orange box. He is seen above, aged one, in 1922
Although he was a Prince of Greece, Philip had no Greek blood. His complex background was in fact Danish, German, Russian and British
His family was forced to flee Corfu in December 1922 after Philip’s father, a Lieutenant-General in the Greek army, was arrested and charged with high treason in the aftermath of the heavy defeat of the Greeks by the Turks, during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. Pictured: his parents, Princess Alice and Prince Andrew of Greece
Prince Philip as a young boy dressed in traditional Greek costume, pictured in September 1930
Philip attends the wedding of his sister Princess Margarita of Greece and Prince Gottfried von Hohenlohe-Langenburg in 1931
Prince Philip was born on June 10, 1921, on the kitchen table at his family home Mon Repos on the Greek island of Corfu.
He was the fifth child, and only boy, of parents Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg.
His ancestry was a mix of Greece, Denmark, Russia and Prussia on his father’s side, and his maternal grandmother, Princess Victoria of Hesse, was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, making him Elizabeth II’s third cousin.
The family were happily living in the royal household of Philip’s uncle King Constantine I.
However, Greece was gripped by political instability and just a year and a half later the family were forced to flee after the King was exiled from his own country following a military revolt.
In the political recriminations that followed, Philip’s father, a Lieutenant-General in the Greek army, was accused of high treason after allegedly disobeying an order and abandoning his post with his cavalry regiment in the face of attack during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922.
The family managed to escape on British naval vessel HMS Calypso, with the newborn prince carried to safety in a cot famously crafted from an unused fruit box.
Prince Philip of Greece (second left), later Duke of Edinburgh, with his schoolmates at the MacJannet American School in St Cloud, France. His family eventually ended up in Paris after leaving Corfu. He was enrolled in the school, just outside Paris, in 1927, at the age of six
Prince Philip’s childhood was incredibly unsettled and he had no permanent home. Pictured: King Michael of Romania (right) riding with his cousin Prince Philip on the sands at Constanza
When he was 10 Philip joined Gordonstoun, the then-new boys’ school near Elgin, Scotland. Pictured: Left in 1935 where he is dressed in character for a production of Macbeth. Right, he is seen on a boat he built while at school in 1936, and took it on a trip around the Hebrides. The young Duke thrived at the boarding school, captaining the cricket and hockey teams
When Philip was 16, tragedy struck. His sister, Princess Cecile (above in 1922 at the age of 11), her husband, and their two children were killed in a plane crash in 1937
They were taken to France where they settled in a leafy suburb in Paris in a house loaned to them by his wealthy aunt, Princess George of Greece and Denmark.
From then on, the Duke’s childhood was incredibly unsettled as he was without a permanent home.
Years later, when an interviewer for The Independent asked him what language he spoke at home, he answered: ‘What do you mean, ‘at home’?’
Prince Philip was at the boys’ school Gordonstoun in Elgin, Scotland, when he heard the news
He told a separate biographer in 2001: ‘It’s simply what happened. The family broke up. My mother was ill, my sisters were married, my father was in the south of France. I just had to get on with it. You do. One does.’
At the age of eight, Philip was sent to Cheam school in Surrey for three years – but moved to Germany where all four of his sisters had married.
His stint in Germany proved brief when he moved back to Britain and was sent to Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland.
The school near Elgin, Scotland, was started by Dr Hahn, who had a profound influence on the Prince.
He very rarely saw his parents and was left isolated, but he was a happy, lively child. He later said of his family’s break-up: ‘I just had to get on with it. You do. One does.’
The Duke thrived at Gordonstoun, captaining the hockey and cricket teams and becoming guardian (head boy) in his last term. It was there he learned to ‘mess about in boats’, laying the solid foundation of a future naval career.
His Uncle Dickie, Lord Mountbatten, one of Britain’s greatest seamen, took a keen interest in the Prince’s progress.
While he was there, Philip experienced another series of tragedies. When he was 16, his sister Cecile, her husband, and their two children were killed in a plane crash.
Just a few months later, his uncle and guardian, George Mountbatten, the second Marquess of Milford Haven, died suddenly of cancer at the age of 46. Gordonstoun’s German headmaster, Kurt Hahn, was the one to break the news. ‘His sorrow was that of a man,’ his headmaster is said to have recalled.
After leaving school, Philip joined the Royal Navy, beginning at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in May 1939, and was singled out as best cadet.
Prince Philip takes the part of one of the three wise kings, lays his crown before the cradle in the Oberufer Nativity Play, which was performed by Gordonstoun School boys in the Town Hall at Ferres, Elginshire, in aid of Forres Leanchoil Hospital in 1938
A keen sportsman, the young prince is pictured here at Gordonstoun during an athletics championship. The school was founded in 1934 by Dr Kurt Hahn, who had fled Germany in 1933 and initially started a school with three pupils. The next year pupil numbers increased and he signed a lease with the Gordon-Cumming family for the Gordonstoun estate
After leaving school, Philip joined the Royal Navy (left), beginning at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in May 1939, and was singled out as best cadet. He moved up through the ranks to become First Lieutenant in the destroyer HMS Wallace, at the age of 21. He is pictured, right, in 1945, where he served aboard HMS Valiant
He stayed in the Royal Navy and served on several ships – firstly on HMS Ramillies – and saw active service against German, Italian and Japanese forces. The next year he became a midshipman.
In March 1941, he was a searchlight control officer on the battleship HMS Valiant and was mentioned in dispatches for his part in the battle of Matapan against the Italian fleet.
His commanding officer said: ‘Thanks to his alertness and appreciation of the situation, we were able to sink in five minutes two eight-inch gun Italian cruisers.’
Shortly afterwards, he was awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.
When he moved up through the ranks to become First Lieutenant in the destroyer HMS Wallace (at the age of 21), he was the youngest officer in the service to have an executive job in a ship of its size.
But at Christmas 1943, with ‘nowhere particular to go’, as he nonchalantly put it, Philip went with his cousin, David Milford Haven, to stay at Windsor Castle. Princess Elizabeth, now 17, was animated in a way ‘none of us had ever seen before’, wrote her governess, Marion Crawford.
That weekend of dinner parties, charades, films and dancing to the gramophone proved to be a turning point.
After a subsequent visit to Windsor in July, Philip wrote to the Queen of ‘the simple enjoyment of family pleasures and amusements and the feeling that I am welcome to share them. I am afraid I am not capable of putting all this into the right words and I am certainly incapable of showing you the gratitude that I feel.’
Philip waterskis off Marmaris, Turkey, in August 1951, during the Mediterranean Fleet’s summer cruise – his last one on HMS Magpie before he returned to the UK
Late that summer, the Queen asked him to Balmoral for three weeks to shoot grouse and stalk. It was probably during this holiday that he proposed.
At last, he wrote to the Queen, life seemed to have a purpose. ‘To have been spared in the war and seen victory, to have been given the chance to rest and to re-adjust myself, to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one’s personal and even the world’s troubles seem small and petty’.
The King agreed in principle to let the couple marry but wanted them to wait until Elizabeth was 21.
To begin with, the King and Queen had misgivings about the match. According to Harold Nicolson, they felt he was ‘rough, ill-mannered, uneducated and would probably not be faithful’.
But the more they got to know him, the more they liked him, especially George VI, who appreciated his forthright manner, joshing humour and love of the outdoors.
By the time Prince Philip married, at the age of 26, he had lost virtually all the landmarks that tie the rest of us to childhood and give us identity.
His father died in Monte Carlo in 1944 after amassing gambling debts and he’d lost his birthright, his home, name, nationality and church. Even his birthday – fixed first in the Julian calendar and then the Gregorian – was no longer the same.
Following the end of the Second World War, Philip ended his active naval career in July 1951 and then started to focus on his work in supporting the Queen following her accession to the throne in 1952.
He also became possibly best known for founding the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme four years later in 1956, a youth achievement award which now operates in more than 140 countries.
The award, which was founded alongside German educationalist Kurt Hahn and Mount Everest climber Lord Hunt, is aimed at helping young people aged between 14 and 24 experience adventure and learn outside the classroom.
The Duke also spent much of his life involved in charities and organisations working within environmental conservation, sport, the military and engineering – with a particular interest in scientific and technological research.
In 1959 he first chaired the judging panel for The Prince Philip Designers Prize, with winners including Sir James Dyson, Lord Foster and Brompton folding bicycle inventor Andrew Ritchie.
He also retained strong connections to the Armed Forces, and in 1952 was appointed Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps.
The next year he was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet and appointed Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. The Duke was also Colonel-in-Chief, or Colonel, of various British and overseas regiments.
Philip played a prominent part in various aspects of British life through his role as consort or companion to the Sovereign, accompanying the Queen on most of her Commonwealth tours and State Visits overseas as well as trips around the UK.
He has also travelled abroad a great deal on his own account and has taken great pride in the four children he has had with the Queen.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales was born in 1948 and Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, was born two years later.
After Philip’s wife became Queen Elizabeth II, the couple had two further children: Prince Andrew, Duke of York, born in 1960 and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, born in 1964.
Among the royal tours which had the biggest impact on him was a trip to Antarctica and the South Atlantic in 1956-57, since which he tried to raise public awareness of the environmental impacts of humanity.
In May 2017 it was announced that the Duke of Edinburgh had decided to no longer carry out public engagements, but he remained patron, president of a member of more than 750 associations up to his death.
The Duke enjoyed good health well into his later years, although as his age advanced beyond 90, concerns for his well-being have increased after he faced a number of scares.
Abdominal surgery, bladder infections, a blocked coronary artery and a hip replacement saw him admitted to hospital on a number of occasions.
Wearing a long, dark overcoat and a sombre expression, a handsome blond man marches through the streets of Germany. The remarkable photograph from 1937 shows Prince Philip, then just 16, in a funeral procession for his older sister Cecile, who was killed in an air crash. The young prince is flanked by grieving relatives, all wearing distinctive Nazi uniforms. One is clad in the uniform of the Brownshirts; another wears full SS regalia. The street in Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, is lined with crowds – many giving the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute.
Despite having to spend two months convalescing following an operation on his abdomen, the duke appeared sprightly and walked unaided on an official visit to a care home in October 2013 when, at 92, he was older than many of the residents.
A car crash while driving at the age of 97 left him shocked and shaken but miraculously uninjured. He surrendered his driving licence three weeks later.
In January this year, the Duke and the Queen were given a coronavirus vaccine at Windsor Castle by a household doctor.
They spent lockdown sheltering at Windsor and had a quiet Christmas at the Berkshire residence after deciding to forgo the traditional royal family gathering at Sandringham.
In March this year, he was reunited with the Queen after leaving hospital following a period of 28 days receiving treatment at both King Edward VII’s Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London
He was initially receiving care for an infection then underwent heart surgery for a pre-existing condition. Philip was taken to King Edward VII’s by car on February 16 after feeling unwell at Windsor Castle.
Two weeks later was moved to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London by ambulance where he had a successful procedure on a pre-existing heart condition on March 3.
A few days later he was transferred back to King Edward’s to recuperate and to continue his treatment – before being taken back to Windsor Castle on March 16 after a month away from his wife.
The tragic women who shaped Prince Philip: A mother who fled revolution and became a nun, a Nazi sister who named her son after Hitler and a plane crash that ‘profoundly shocked’ the schoolboy prince
By Stephanie Linning for MailOnline
The story of the
Born a Prince of
Shortly after Prince Philip’s arrival, the
Owing to his age, and status as the only son, Philip grew up apart from his sisters, three of whom – Margarita, Cecilie and Sophie – married German aristocrats who became members of the Nazi party.
Indeed his youngest sister Sophie and her husband Prince Christoph of Hesse were so well regarded they joined Hitler for private lunches and even named their first son in his honour.
Only son: Born a Prince of Greece and Denmark, Philip was the fifth child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and his wife, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who welcomed her son on the dining table of a villa in Corfu. Pictured, Philip and his mother in 1960
Four daughters: Prince Philip was raised separately from his four older sisters, pictured left-right: Sophia, Margarita, Cecilie, known as Cecile, and Theodora. The girls are pictured ahead of the 1922 wedding of Louis Mountbatten and Edwina Ashley, where they were bridesmaids
Royal ties: Princess Alice was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. It means Prince Philip and the Queen were distantly related through their great-great-grandmother
When Prince Philip’s third sister Princess Cecile, then eight months pregnant with her fourth child, was killed in a plane crash in 1937 alongside her family, relatives donned distinctive Nazi uniforms for the funeral.
Philip broke a 60-year public silence about his family’s Nazi ties in 2006, saying that, like many Germans, they found Hitler’s early attempts to restore Germany’s power and prestige ‘attractive’ but stressed he was never ‘conscious of anybody in the family actually expressing anti-Semitic views’.
Prince Philip’s family
Born a Prince of Greece and Denmark, Philip was the fifth child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and his wife, Princess Alice of Battenberg. He survived his sisters:
- Princess Margarita (1905-1981)
- Princess Theodora (1906–1969)
- Princess Cecilie (1911- 1937)
- Princess Sophie (1914-2001)
Philip’s opposition to the Nazis has never been in doubt. He fought valiantly for Britain during the war, seeing action in the Battle of Crete, the Battle of Cape Matapan in Greece and the Allied invasion of Sicily.
However there were questions about his German blood when he and the Queen first met and, unsurprisingly, none of Prince Philip’s sisters were invited to the Queen’s wedding in 1947.
The German connection was still too shaming, only two years after the end of the war.
The siblings’ mother Princess Alice was largely absent from Prince Philip’s childhood.
She survived revolution and exile, mental breakdown and religious mania, evincing great personal courage to protect a Jewish family during the war – before turning her back on the trappings of royal life to become a nun.
Alice was a loving mother but enforced separation from her young son helped to forge Prince Philip’s self-reliant, sometimes cussedly independent spirit.
Here, a closer look at the women who shaped Prince Philip’s early life…
His mother, Princess Alice: Queen Victoria’s Greek great-granddaughter born at Windsor Castle who survived revolution, exile and an asylum before becoming a nun
Newlyweds: In 1902, at the Coronation of King Edward VII, Princess Alice fell head over heels in love with Prince Andrew, a younger son of the King of Greece. Pictured, the couple in 1903
Elegant: Alice was congenitally deaf but she could speak clearly. Photographs show how beautiful she was, with her upswept hair and lace gowns. Pictured, circa. 1945
Absent but loving: Alice was a loving mother but enforced separation from her young son helped to forge Prince Philip’s self-reliant, independent spirit. Pictured, in 1957
The Duke of Edinburgh’s mother was born Princess Alice of Battenberg in 1885 at Windsor Castle, a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and raised as an English princess, although both her parents – Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine and Prince Louis of Battenberg – were German.
She was one of four siblings. Her sister Louise became Queen of Sweden and her brother was Louis ‘Dickie’ Mountbatten, later Lord Mountbatten, Prince Philip’s beloved uncle.
Alice was congenitally deaf but she could speak clearly. Photographs show how beautiful she was, with her upswept hair and lace gowns.
How Princess Alice protected a Jewish family from Nazis during the Holocaust
Princess Alice of Battenberg was famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust during the Second World War by sheltering them in her Athens home.
Alfred Haimaki Cohen, head of a prominent family with ties to Greek royalty, sought out the royal as their only hope of refuge from the Nazis.
By chance Alfred, a prominent member of the community of 8,000 Jewish people in Athens, came across Alice’s lady-in-waiting, and the royal quickly offered the family refuge on the top floor of her house, only yards from Gestapo headquarters.
When the Gestapo became suspicious, Alice made her deafness an excuse for not answering their questions.
Speaking last year, Mr Cohen’s daughter explained she wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the actions of Princess Alice.
Then in 1902, at the Coronation of King Edward VII, she fell head over heels in love with Prince Andrew, a younger son of the King of Greece.
With the advent of the Balkan Wars, Prince Andrew was reinstated in the army, and Princess Alice, assisting at operations and setting up field hospitals, work for which King George V – the current Queen’s grandfather – awarded her the Royal Red Cross in 1913.
By 1914 Alice had four daughters. But in Greece, revolution was brewing, and shortly after Prince Philip was born in 1921, the Greek royal family were exiled.
Aged 18 months, the future Duke of Edinburgh was bundled into a makeshift cot – an orange crate – as the family escaped on a British warship.
They arrived in Paris as refugees, living on handouts from relatives. The strain took its toll on Alice, and her impassioned religious beliefs became steadily more eccentric.
By 1930 she was hearing voices and believed she was having physical relationships with Jesus and other religious figures.
She was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and when treatment in a Berlin clinic failed – on the advice of Sigmund Freud her womb was blasted with X-rays to cure her of frustrated sexual desires – she was admitted to a Swiss sanatorium.
On the day she left, the nine-year-old Prince Philip was taken out by his grandmother for a picnic. When he returned, his mother had gone.
She remained a prisoner there for two and a half years.
Although the couple never divorced, Alice was effectively abandoned by her playboy husband Prince Andrew, who went to live on the French Riviera with his mistress. He died in 1944 in Monaco.
Prince Philip was by then homeless, spending boarding school holidays with various relatives, including his uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten.
When Alice was eventually released from the sanatorium in 1932, she became a lonely drifter, staying in modest German B&Bs. Mother and son were not to meet again until tragic circumstances forced them together, reuniting in 1937 at the funeral of Philip’s sister Cécilie, who’d died in a plane crash at the age of 26.
Wedding day: Princess Alice of Battenberg (fifth from left) with her son and daughter-in-law on their wedding day in 1947. None of Prince Philip’s sisters were invited to the Queen’s wedding in 1947. The German connection was still too shaming, only two years after the end of the war
Alice wanted Philip, now 16, to live with her in Athens (the Greek monarchy having been restored in 1935). But Philip’s future lay in the Royal Navy. And by 1941, Alice was stranded in Nazi-occupied Greece.
Her brother, Lord Mountbatten, sent food parcels – which she gave to the needy.
Then, for more than a year, she hid a Jewish family on the top floor of her house, only yards from Gestapo headquarters. When the Gestapo became suspicious, Alice made her deafness an excuse for not answering their questions.
After the war, diamonds from Alice’s tiara were reset so Philip had an engagement ring to present to Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen.
Alice sold the rest of her jewels to found her own religious order, the Christian Sisterhood Of Martha And Mary, in 1949 and built a convent and orphanage in a poor suburb of Athens.
Final days: Princess Alice died at Buckingham Palace in 1969, where she lived for two years as a guest of her son and daughter-in-law. Pictured, mother and son in 1957
How The Crown fictionalised a ‘tell all’ interview with a journalist
The third series of The Crown claims Princess Alice gave a tell-all interview with the Guardian, stepping in to take the place of publicity shy Princess Anne.
In the scene Anne feigns a cold and excuses herself from the interview and sends her grandmother (Jane Lapotaire) out into the hallway where journalist John Armstrong (played by Colin Morgan) is waiting.
Princess Alice, the mother of the Duke of Edinburgh, proceeds to give the journalists details about her tragic life, including her time spent in mental institutions.
This was all fictionalised, although Princess Alice did live at Buckingham Palace from 1967 until her death in December 1969.
Seen in The Crown: Jane Lapotaire as Princess Alice in Netflix’s The Crown
When there was a Greek military coup in 1967, Alice refused to budge from Athens until Prince Philip sent a plane, along with a special request from the Queen, to bring her home.
Princess Alice spent her final years living with her son and daughter-in-law the Queen at Buckingham Palace before her death in December 1969 at the age of 84.
Her final months were fictionalised in the third series of Netflix’s The Crown, with Jane Lapotaire playing the role. The series wrongly suggested she gave a tell-all interview with the Guardian, covering sensitive topics including her mental health condition.
Shortly before Alice died in 1969, she wrote to her only son, whose childhood had been so scarred by her absence, ‘Dearest Philip, Be brave, and remember I will never leave you, and you will always find me when you need me most. All my devoted love, your old Mama.’
HIS FOUR SISTERS, MARGARITA, THEODORA, CECILIE AND SOPHIE: THREE MARRIED NAZIS AND ONE DIED IN A TRAGIC PLANE CRASH WHILE EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT
Margarita, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1905-1981)
Royal connection: Prince Philip’s oldest sister Princess Margarita (standing) after the birth of Princess Anne (pictured in the Queen’s arms). Also pictured: Lord Mountbatten (left), Andrew Elphinstone, a cousin of the Queen, Alice Countess von Athlone and the Queen Mother
Prince Philip pictured (2nd right in the first full row), in a funeral procession in 1937. On the right, in the uniform of the SA (Hitler’ militia that was known as the ‘storm division’ or ‘Brownshirts’), walks Prince Philipp von Hessen, brother of Philip’s brother-in-law, Prince Christoph, who is next in line in full SS regalia
The oldest of Prince Philip’s four sisters was Margarita, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, born in 1905 at the Royal Palace in Athens.
In 1931 Margarita married Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, a German aristocrat who went on to become a Nazi.
Gottfried was a son of Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria through her second son, Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and his wife, Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia, a daughter of Alexander II of Russia.
During the Second World War, Prince Gottfried fought for the Germans on the Russian front, where he was badly wounded.
But he turned against the Fuhrer, and was among the aristocratic officers implicated in the plot to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944 – which led to Prince Gottfried’s dismissal from the army.
In 1950 Gottfried succeeded his father as Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
The couple had six children together, five of whom survived into adulthood.
Princess Margarita remained in contact with her brother and visited the UK shortly after the birth of Princess Anne. She died in 1981.
Theodora, Margravine of Baden (1906–1969)
Young beauty: Princess Theodora of Greece, who was the last of the four sisters to marry
Brotherly love: Prince Philip with his sister Princess Theodora in 1960. She died in 1969
Born in 1906 at Tatoi Palace, the summer residence of the Greek royal family, Theodora was the only one of Philip’s four sisters whose husband wasn’t involved in the Nazi party.
In August 1931 she married her second cousin Berthold, Margrave of Baden.
They had three children together: Princess Margarita, who later married Prince Tomislav of Yugoslavia; Prince Maximillian, who married Archduchess Valerie of Austria; and Prince Ludwig, who married Princess Anna Maria Henrietta Eleonora Gobertina of Auersperg-Breunner.
Theodora died on 16 October 1969 at Büdingen, Germany, having survived her husband by six years. Her mother, Princess Alice, died five weeks later.
Cecilie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Hesse (1911-1937)
Tragic death: Prince Philip enjoyed a close relationship with his sister Princess Cecilie, known as Princess Cecile by the family. She died in a plane crash in 1937 while eight months pregnant with her fourth child, who was delivered shortly before the crash. Pictured right, with her sons Alexander and Ludwig, who also died in the crash, and daughter Johanna
In The Crown: Cecile’s death features in the penultimate episode of– entitled Paterfamilias – of the second series of The Crown which explores Prince Charles’s unhappy school days at Gordonstoun, interwoven with flashbacks to his father’s time there. She was played by Leonie Beseech, pictured alongside a young Prince Philip, played by Finn Elliot
How The Crown wrongly blamed Prince Philip for the death of his sister Cecile
Cecile’s death features in the penultimate episode of– entitled Paterfamilias – of the second series of The Crown which explores Prince Charles’s unhappy school days at Gordonstoun, interwoven with flashbacks to his father’s time there.
It is suggested – wrongly – that in November 1937, Philip, then 16, was due to spend half-term with 26-year-old Cecile, married to Grand Duke George Donatus of Hesse.
This arrangement is said to suit his sister, apparently terrified of flying, because it will enable her to avoid travelling to London for a wedding.
But Philip then punches a fellow pupil and as punishment is forced to remain at school during the holiday, leaving Cecile no choice but to accompany her family to London.
Philip rings his sister hoping she will support him. Speaking from a German airport, she tells him she agrees with the head’s decision and says she is now ‘obliged’ to fly to the wedding. The camera then cuts to her boarding the plane.
It is true that Philip travelled to Germany for the funeral. But what happens next in The Crown, say Royal experts, is pure fiction.
Young Philip, played by Finn Elliot, is presented to his mother Princess Alice and father Prince Andrew at the funeral. His father says: ‘Had it not been for Philip and his indiscipline she would never have taken that flight. It’s true, isn’t it boy? You’re the reason we’re all here burying my favourite child. Get him out of here.’
Prince Philip enjoyed a close relationship with his sister Princess Cecilie, who was born in 1911.
Known to affectionately as ‘Cecile’ godfather was King George V, the current Queen’s grandfather.
In 1931, she married Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, her first cousin once removed.
They are both thought to have joined the Nazi party in May 1937.
A few months later in November Cecile, eight months pregnant with her third child, was killed in a plane crash while flying from Germany to London for a wedding.
Her plane crashed after hitting a factory chimney in fog near Ostend.
Also killed were her mother, her husband, their sons aged six and four, a lady-in-waiting and the best man.
Firemen found the remains of an infant, prematurely delivered when the plane crashed, lying beside Cecile’s body, suggesting the pilot tried to land because she had begun to give birth.
Prince Philip, then 16, was particularly close to Cecile and being called into his headmaster’s study at Gordonstoun to be told of her death was one of the worst moments of his life.
Years later he wrote: ‘I have the very clearest recollection of the profound shock with which I heard the news of the crash and the death of my sister and her family.’
Cecilie was buried with her husband and three of her children, including her stillborn son, in Darmstadt at the Rosenhöhe, the traditional burial place of the Hesse family.
Photos from their funeral shows Prince Philip flanked by grieving relatives, all wearing distinctive Nazi uniforms.
One is clad in the uniform of the Brownshirts; another wears full SS regalia.
The street in Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, is lined with crowds – many giving the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute.
Cecile and Georg’s surviving daughter Johanna was adopted by Prince Ludwig and Princess Margaret but died two years later from meningitis.
Princess Sophie of Hanover (1914-2001)
Close ties with the Nazis: Although the youngest of four sisters, Sophie was the first to wed, marrying her second cousin-once-removed Prince Christoph of Hesse in 1930, at the age of 16. Prince Christoph was a director in the Third Reich Air Ministry, an SS colonel and the chief of Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering’s secret intelligence service – responsible for spying on anti-Nazis. Pictured, Sophie with Philip and her second husband in 1960
Although the youngest of four sisters, Sophie was the first to wed, marrying her second cousin-once-removed Prince Christoph of Hesse in 1930, at the age of 16.
Son of Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse and Princess Margaret of Prussia, Christoph was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria through her eldest daughter Victoria, Princess Royal, wife of Frederick III, German Emperor.
Prince Christoph was a director in the Third Reich Air Ministry, an SS colonel and the chief of Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering’s secret intelligence service – responsible for spying on anti-Nazis.
A photo taken in 1935 shows Sophie sitting opposite Hitler at the wedding of Goering and his bride Emmy. In a diary she wrote of a private lunch with Hitler and how she thought he was a ‘charming and seemingly modest man’.
Indeed couple were such devoted Nazis that they named one of their five children Karl Adolf in honour of Hitler.
Prince Christoph was killed in October 1943 in a plane accident over Italy. Sophie went on to marry Prince George William of Hanover in 1946, and the couple had three children together.
Princess Sophie remained in contact with her brother and sister-in-law the Queen until her death in 2001 in Munich. She attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show and was godmother to Prince Edward.
Duty to the country, and the Queen: How war hero Prince Philip was honoured for saving battleship from Nazi bombers during action-packed military career… that he gave up when he married Monarch
By Harry Howard for MailOnline
Prince Philip’s attachment to the Armed Forces predated even his 73-year marriage to his beloved wife the Queen.
By 1942, he had risen to the rank of First Lieutenant after bravely fighting in the Battle of Crete and the conflict at Cape Matapan.
The consort was even there in Tokyo Bay to witness the historic surrender of Japanese forces in September 1945.
His glittering career saw him amass a chestful of medals which he proudly displayed at numerous functions.
The awards included decorations for bravery in the 1939-45 war, where he distracted Nazi pilots during a 1943 bombing raid by launching a raft with smoke floats.
He was also Mentioned in Dispatches for his ‘alertness’ in helping to spot enemy ships.
And in 1945, Philip helped to rescue servicemen who had to ditch into the ocean after their Avenger bomber was hit by enemy fire.
But it wasn’t just on water where Philip put his military credentials to good use – he trained to be a pilot with the RAF and by the time he gave up flying in 1997, at the age of 76, he had completed 5,986 hours of time in the sky in 59 different aircraft.
But after the Queen acceded to the throne in 1952, four years after their wedding, Philip had to painfully give up his career in the Navy.
In an interview to mark his 90th birthday a decade ago, he revealed how it was ‘naturally disappointing’ to have to leave the service – but the man of honour added that he accepted his ‘first duty’ was to serve the Queen ‘in the best way I could’.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who has died at the age of 99, joined the Royal Navy in 1939 – the year the Second World War broke out – when he was still a teenager. By 1942, he had risen to the rank of first lieutenant after bravely fighting in the Battle of Crete and the conflict at Cape Matapan. Left: Philip in 1946. Right: Phlip in 1945, when he was serving on HMS Valiant
While serving on HMS Whelp, the future Queen’s consort was even there in Tokyo Bay to witness the historic surrender of Japanese forces in September 1945. Pictured: Philip (front row, second from left) with his fellow officers on HMS Whelp
It wasn’t just on water where Philip put his military credentials to good use – he trained to be a pilot with the RAF and by the time he gave up flying in 1997, at the age of 76, he had completed 5,986 hours of time in the sky in 59 different aircraft
His glittering Navy career
It was after leaving Gordonstoun school that Philip joined the Royal Navy. His training began at Britannia Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth, in May 1939 – three months before Britain declared war on Nazi Germany.
The athletic and talented prince was singled out as best cadet and, after war did break out, Philip firstly served on the battleship HMS Ramillies in 1940.
The next year, in March 1941, he was serving as a searchlight control officer on the battleship HMS Valiant when he was Mentioned in Dispatches for his part in the Battle of Cape Matapan against Italian forces off the Greek coast.
British and Australian ships under the command of Admiral Cunningham decisively defeated their opponents.
Whilst just four Allied seamen were killed and only four light cruiser ships damaged, the enemy lost more than 2,000 men and five of their ships were sunk.
Philip’s role on board HMS Valiant was to pick out ships in the darkness using the ship’s spotlight.
Writing in the foreword to a 2012 book about the battle, Philip said: ‘I seem to remember that I reported I had a target in sight, and was ordered to ‘open shutter’.
It was after leaving Gordonstoun school that Philip joined the Royal Navy. His training began at Britannia Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth, in May 1939 – three months before Britain declared war on Nazi Germany. Pictured: HMS Whelp, which Prince Philip served on
The then Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, prior to his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, working at his desk after returning to his Royal Navy duties at the Petty Officers Training Centre in Corsham, Wiltshire, August 1st 1947
Philip (fifth from left, front row) at the Royal Navy Petty Officer’s School in Corsham, Wiltshire, in 1947. Philip distinguished himself in his service in the Second World War
While serving as First Lieutenant on HMS Whelp, Philip was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender agreement with Allied forces. Speaking in 1995, Philip said: ‘Being in Tokyo Bay with the surrender ceremony taking place on a battleship which was what? 200 yards away. You could see what was going on with a pair of binoculars’
‘The beam lit up a stationary cruiser, but we were so close by then that the beam only lit up half the ship.
‘At this point all hell broke loose, as all our eight 15-inch guns, plus those of the flagship and Barham’s started firing at the stationary cruiser, which disappeared in an explosion and a cloud of smoke.
‘I was then ordered to ‘train left’ and lit up another Italian cruiser, which was given the same treatment.
‘The next morning the battle fleet returned to the scene of the battle, while attempts were made to pick up survivors. This was rudely interrupted by an attack by German bombers.
‘The return to Alexandria was uneventful, and the peace and quiet was much appreciated.’
However, he added playfully: ‘All these events took place 70 years ago, and, as most elderly people have discovered, memories tend to fade’, and that witness accounts needed to be treated as ‘faction’ – a blend of fact and fiction’.
As well as being Mentioned in Dispatches by his commander Admiral Cunningham, Philip was also awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.
Cunningham said: ‘Thanks to his alertness and appreciation of the situation, we were able to sink in five minutes two eight-inch gun Italian cruisers.’
At the age of just 21, Philip then moved up through Navy ranks to become First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Wallace.
He was the youngest officer in the service to have an executive job in a ship of its size.
In 1947, two years after the end of the war, Philip married the then Princess Elizabeth. They moved to Malta in 1949 and lived there for two years – a period which they saw as among the happiest of their lives. Pictured: The couple during their honeymoon in Malta in 1947
While in Malta, Philip was First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Chequers, while Princess Elizabeth was a happy naval wife and mother – first to Charles in 1949 and then Anne in 1950
Prince Philip pictured on board HMS Magpie in the Mediterranean, in the summer of 1951, when he was in command of the ship
The Duke of Edinburgh and Captain John Edwin Home McBeath DSO, DSC, RN (left), pose with Queen Elizabeth for a photograph on HMS Chequers, where Philip served as First Lieutenant
While serving on HMS Wallace, during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, Philip helped to save his ship from a night bomber attack by launching a raft with smoke floats.
These distracted the bombers, allowing the ship to slip away unnoticed.
Philip was then appointed the First Lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Whelp and was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender agreement with Allied forces.
THE 17 DECORATIONS WHICH PRINCE PHILIP AMASSED IN BOTH HIS MILITARY CAREER AND HIS ROLE AS THE QUEEN’S HUSBAND
The Duke joined the Royal Navy in 1939, aged 18, and served throughout the Second World War and on until 1953, when he gave up his active career in the Navy after the Queen ascended the throne.
He then held various military posts, including Admiral of the Fleet and Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy.
The Duke’s medals are:
Queen’s Service Order, New Zealand: This is awarded by the Government of New Zealand for service to the country
1939-1945 Star: A campaign medal of the British Commonwealth awarded for service during the Second World War.
Atlantic Star: Awarded this in 1945 for service in the Atlantic during the Second World War
Africa Star: Awarded in 1945 for service in Africa during the Second World War
Burma Star (with Pacific Rosette): Awarded for service in the Burma Campaign in the Second World War
Italy Star: Awarded for service in Italy and surrounding areas in the Second World War
War Medal 1939-1945, with Mention in Dispatches: Awarded to those who served in the Armed Forces or Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 1939-45. The oak leaf on the ribbon denotes the Mention in Despatches.
King George VI Coronation Medal, 1937: These medals were made to commemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, 1953: A commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, 1977: A commemorative medal created in 1977 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, 2002: A commemorative medal created in 2002 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012: A commemorative medal created last year to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne
Canadian Forces Decoration (4 Bars): This honorary award was presented to the Duke in April this year
New Zealand Commemoration Medal, 1990: This was awarded only during 1990 to around 3,000 people in recognition of contributions made to New Zealand life
Malta George Cross 50th Anniversary Medal, 1992: This is a commemorative medal awarded by, or in the name of, the President of Malta
Greek War Cross, 1950: This is awarded for heroism in wartime to both Greeks and foreign allies. The Duke earned his for his bravery in fighting the Italians when they invaded Greece in 1941.
Croix de Guerre (France) with Palm, 1948: A French military decoration to honour people who fought with the Allies against Axis nations in the Second World War
Speaking in 1995 about his time on the ship, Philip described his experience of watching the Japanese capitulate.
‘Being in Tokyo Bay with the surrender ceremony taking place on a battleship which was what, 200 yards away? You could see what was going on with a pair of binoculars.
‘It was a great relief. And I remember because from there we went on to Hong Kong. And the most extraordinary sensation when we sailed because we realised we didn’t have to darken ship anymore.
‘We didn’t have to close all the scuttles. We didn’t have to turn the lights out. So you suddenly… all these little things built up to suddenly feeling that life was different.
HMS Whelp then took in prisoners of war who had been held in horrendous conditions by the Japanese.
In the same 1995 interview, Philip described how he and his men broke down in tears at the sight of the released prisoners accepting cups of tea.
‘These people were naval people. They were emaciated. And they set down in the mess, they were suddenly in an atmosphere which they recognised, they were back in the mess.
‘And the people, our ship’s company, also recognised that they were fellow sailors. And so we gave them a cup of tea but it was an extraordinary sensation because they just sat there.
‘I mean both sides, our own and them, tears pouring down their cheeks. They just drank their tea. They really couldn’t speak. It was the most extraordinary sensation.’
Months before the Japanese surrender, Philip helped to rescue two servicemen while serving on HMS Whelp.
The men – Roy ‘Gus’ Halliday (who went on to become Vice-Admiral Halliday) and Norman Richardson – had had to ditch into the ocean after the bomber was hit.
They had been returning from bombing the Songei Gerong oil refinery in Sumatra when the disaster occurred.
Fortunately for both men, the Whelp was on hand to rescue them from the water. The young Prince introduced himself as Lieutenant Philip and neither Halliday nor Richardson at first realised who he was.
It was only later, when the men went to Philip’s cabin and saw a photo of Princess Elizabeth that they made the connection.
In 2006, Philip met with Richardson at Buckingham Palace, where Philip joked, ‘It’s you again! Well, at least you’re dry this time.’
Speaking of the rescue, Philip recalled: ‘The decision to go and pick them up was, I suppose, ultimately made by the captain.
‘It was then up to the First Lieutenant to organise whatever needed to be done. ‘It was routine. If you found somebody in the sea you go and pick them up. End of story, so to speak.’
In 1947, two years after the end of the war, Philip married the then Princess Elizabeth.
They moved to Malta in 1949 and lived there for two years – a period which they saw as among the happiest of their lives.
While in Malta, Philip was First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Chequers, while Princess Elizabeth was a happy naval wife and mother – first to Charles in 1949 and then Anne in 1950.
In 1950, Philip was given control of the frigate HMS Magpie after being promoted to Lieutenant-Commander. He was nicknamed ‘Dukey’ by his men.
Giving up what he loved
But Philip’s naval career had to come to an end when Princess Elizabeth’s father King George VI died in 1952 and she became Queen.
Speaking in an unusually candid interview in 2011, Philip admitted it was hard to turn his back on a life at sea after being asked by questioner Alan Titchmarsh.
‘Well, I mean, how long is a piece of string? I don’t know how difficult it was, it was naturally disappointing,’ he said.
But Philip’s naval career had to come to an end when Princess Elizabeth’s father King George VI died in 1952 and she became Queen. Pictured: Philip in 1953
Prince Philip’s glittering career saw him amass a chestful of medals which he proudly displayed at numerous functions. They included decorations for bravery in the 1939-45 war. Pictured: The Duke attending a service at Westminster Abbey in 2015
After leaving the Navy, Philip held many honorary titles, including Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force, Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps, Admiral of the Fleet and Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. Pictured: Philip in 1969 visiting the Queen’s Royal Hussars regiment in Dorset
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, drinks whales teeth kava while watching traditional dancing on October 30, 1982 in Suva, Fiji, during a royal tour of the South Pacific
‘I had just been promoted to commander and the fact was that the most interesting part of my naval career was just starting.
‘But then equally, if I stopped and thought about it, being married to the Queen, it seemed to me my first duty was to serve her in the best way I could.’
Netflix drama The Crown depicted Philip’s frustration at having to stop his military activities.
The show’s creator Peter Morgan claimed the move led to ‘all sorts of tensions’.
‘He was forced to give up his career and become, as it were, her consort. And that led to all sorts of tensions, both within himself and within the marriage…’
He added: ‘I think he was quite reasonably expecting to have a long, successful career and reach the upper echelon of the Royal Navy.
‘But then King George became sick and died at age 56. This thing happens, bang, sooner than anyone would have expected.’
Taking to the skies
Another period of Philip’s life depicted in The Crown was his training to be a pilot, which began in November 1952.
Likely in search of some of the enjoyment and meaning which he had taken from his Navy service, Philip began training in a De Havilland Chipmunk before moving on to a North American Harvard.
Both aircraft were produced for training would-be pilots.
At a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in May 1953, Philip was awarded his ‘wings’ by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Sir William Dickson.
Three years later, he gained his helicopter wings and in 1959, his private pilot’s licence.
In November 1952, likely in search of some of the enjoyment and meaning which he had taken from his Navy service, Philip began training to be a pilot. He started in a De Havilland Chipmunk before moving on to a North American Harvard. Pictured: The Duke gets out of a plane in May 1953 at White Waltham airfield
At a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in May 1953, Philip was awarded his ‘wings’ by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Sir William Dickson. Three years later, he gained his helicopter wings and in 1959, his private pilot’s licence. Pictured left: Philip at the controls of a Trident jet airliner in 1964. Right: The Duke of Edinburgh at the controls of the ‘Beverly’ Freighter Aircraft at Blackburn Aircraft Factory in 1956
In March 1952, Philip piloted a jet aircraft for the first time, flying a Comet airliner from the De Havilland airfield in Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Philip embraced his new skill as a pilot and flew for 45 years, amassing 5,986 hours in 59 different aircraft. Pictured: Philip on the day in June 1958 that he flew a Vulcan H-bomber
One dramatic, fictional scene in The Crown showed Philip following the 1969 moon landing flying a plane alongside a co-pilot.
Spotting the distant moon, he took the controls and flew straight towards it, much to his companion’s terror.
After eventually levelling off once more, he said, ‘we’ve also lived… just for a minute’.
Philip embraced his new skill as a pilot and flew for 45 years, amassing 5,986 hours in 59 different aircraft.
His final flight was at the age of 76, on August 11, 1997, when he flew from Carlisle to Islay.
The Prince’s desire to fly came despite the death of his sister Cecile in a plane crash when he was just 16.
Cecilie, who was eight months pregnant at the time, died along with her husband and two sons.
The Prince in uniform as a Queen’s guard as his wife, the Queen, walks past and enjoys a giggle in April 2003
Philip’s love of the sea never waned, competing regularly at Cowes Regatta (above, in 1979). He was Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron, patron of a number of clubs and president of the Royal Yachting Association
Philip during a visit to East Wretham Camp, near Thetford, Norfolk in 1958 (left) and in his Naval uniform around 1965 (right)
Despite the need to give up his military career, as part of his role as the husband of the monarch, Philip did hold honorary titles in all three wings of the military.
In 1952 he was appointed Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps.
The next year he was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet and was appointed Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
The Duke was also Colonel-in-Chief, or Colonel, of various British and overseas regiments.
Following in their father’s footsteps
Philip’s sons – Charles, Andrew and Edward – have all followed in their father’s footsteps by spending time in the military.
Prince Edward spent three years in the Royal Marines as a University Cadet before leaving the Armed Forces after graduating.
Prince Andrew served for 22 years in the Royal Navy and saw active service as a helicopter pilot in the 1982 Falklands War.
Philip’s sons – Charles, Andrew and Edward – have all followed in their father’s footsteps by spending time in the military. Charles jointed the Royal Air Force in March 1971 and gained his wings after a training period which saw him complete a parachute jump (right)
Prince Andrew served for 22 years in the Royal Navy and saw active service as a helicopter pilot in the 1982 Falklands War
Prince Edward spent three years in the Royal Marines as a University Cadet before leaving the Armed Forces after graduating
As for Charles, in March 1971 he joined the Royal Air Force after gaining his private pilot’s licence a year earlier.
He gained his wings just five months later after completing a parachute jump.
Prince Philip was present to watch his son receive his wings at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire.
Charles then entered the Royal Navy where he served on ships including the destroyer HMS Norfolk and the frigate HMS Minerva.
In June 1994, Prince Charles was at the controls when a Queen’s Flight jet aircraft crashed after overshooting the runway while coming into land at Islay in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides.
Three tyres burst on the £10million ‘Whisper Jet’, which also suffered damage damaging to its nose cone, landing gear and weather radar. Fortunately, no one was injured.
‘His job, first, second and last was never to let her down’: The magical marriage of the Fairy Princess and Prince Charming cheered post-war Britain and lasted 73 years
Good-looking and blond-haired, the tall, athletic
They had been present together on various occasions, including the wedding in 1934 of Philip’s cousin Princess Marina, later Duchess of Kent, to Princess Elizabeth’s uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent, and at the coronation of George VI in 1937.
But it was at Dartmouth, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the naval college with their two daughters, that Philip, then 18, and the 13-year-old Elizabeth had their first official meeting in July 1939.
From that time, they maintained a regular correspondence and met on several occasions.
A portrait of the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace to mark the engagement of Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Philip Mountbatten (later Duke of Edinburgh), in July 1947. Left to right: Princess Elizabeth, Philip Mountbatten, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900 – 2002), King George VI (1895 – 1952) and Princess Margaret (1930 – 2002)
Good-looking and blond-haired, the Prince of Greece impressed the young Princess by jumping over the college tennis nets at their first publicised meeting. Pictured: Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in a wedding photograph in 1947
They had been present together on various occasions, including at the coronation of George VI in 1937. Pictured: The couple in an official photograph from their wedding on November 20, 1947
It was at Dartmouth, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the naval college with their two daughters, that Philip and Elizabeth had their first official meeting in July 1939. Pictured: The couple at Westminster Abbey
This was the official portrait taken of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh after their wedding ceremony. Bridesmaid Princess Margaret stands beside the groom and Princess Alexander of Kent is fourth from left
Philip was invited to spend Christmas 1943 with the Royal Family at Windsor and by the end of the war newspapers were speculating about their relationship.
There was, however, some disapproval and suspicion of this foreign Prince in the post-war years. Old-school courtiers were concerned that he was not a traditional English gentleman, even though he had fought for Britain in the Navy.
But Philip and Elizabeth were already in love. It has been suggested that they became unofficially engaged in the summer of 1946 while they were staying at Balmoral, but the official announcement was delayed until after Princess Elizabeth reached the age of 21 and returned from a royal tour of South Africa.
Philip applied for British nationality and in February 1947 became a naturalised British subject, renouncing his Greek royal title.
He adopted a new surname, but decided against Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg – the family name of the Danish royal house from which his father was descended.
Philip had a stag night with his Navy colleagues, including his uncle Earl Mountbatten (who is hiding the cigar), in 1941
Philip and Elizabeth are showered with confetti as they depart for their honeymoon. Newspapers had begun speculating about the pair’s relationship by the end of World War Two
From that time, they maintained a regular correspondence and met on several occasions. Elizabeth is pictured here about to get into a carriage outside Westminster Abbey
Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding. Left to right: King George VI, bridesmaids Princess Margaret, Lady Mary Cambridge, the royal couple, and Queen Elizabeth
Instead he settled on Mountbatten, an Anglicised version of Battenberg, his mother’s family name.
The style of His Royal Highness was authorised shortly before his marriage on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey and he was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, and made a Knight of the Garter.
He was accorded by the Queen the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom in February 1957.
The wedding, attended by an array of foreign kings and queens, captured the public imagination in the austere post-war days of November 1947. The newly-weds were called the Fairy Princess and Prince Charming.
After honeymooning at Broadlands, Hampshire, home of Lord Mountbatten, and at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate in Scotland, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh stayed at Buckingham Palace until renovation of their new home, nearby Clarence House, was completed in 1949.
Philip’s devotion to his wife was clear. His first ever private secretary Michael Parker, a friend from the Navy, revealed: ‘He told me the first day he offered me my job that his job, first, second and last was never to let her down.’
Their first child, Charles, was born at Buckingham Palace in November 1948. Anne was born at Clarence House in August 1950. Ten years later, Andrew was born at Buckingham Palace in February 1960, as was Edward in March 1964.
Their first child, Charles, was born at Buckingham Palace in November 1948. Anne was born at Clarence House in August 1950. Ten years later, Andrew was born at Buckingham Palace in February 1960, as was Edward in March 1964. This picture was taken in 1968 at Windsor Castle
Philip’s devotion to his wife was clear. They are pictured at a show at Olympia in Kensington, West London, in December 1952
The playful prince practises his bicycle polo technique in Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, in 1964
Philip resumed his naval career, attending the Royal Naval Staff College at Greenwich and in October 1949 was appointed First Lieutenant and second-in-command of HMS Chequers, operating from Malta.
Elizabeth joined him there at several stages between 1949 and 1951 and had an idyllic life on the Mediterranean island, relishing the relative privacy that living abroad offered them.
Promotion to Lieutenant-Commander followed in July 1950 and in September, Philip was given command of the frigate HMS Magpie, which he said were the happiest days of his sailor life.
He was eventually promoted to Commander in June 1952 and to Admiral of the Fleet in January 1953. His other service appointments were Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
Because of increasing anxiety about the King’s health, the Duke was expected to take a share of royal engagements.
Princess Elizabeth and Philip made their first major tour together to Canada and the United States in October and November 1951, after which the Duke was made a Privy Counsellor.
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