Queen Elizabeth II's Husband Prince Philip Has Died

Buckingham Palace has announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The palace released the following statement:

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The fifth child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg, Philip was born in Corfu, Greece, in June 1921. The youngest of five, Philip’s four older sisters all married members of Germany’s nobility; one, Cecilie, was killed in a plane crash in 1937 along with her husband, two sons, and mother-in-law. (None of his three living sisters were able to attend his eventual marriage to Elizabeth II because of post-WWII relations between the U.K. and Germany—and because their husbands had connections to the Nazis, specifically.)

Philip spent most of his early childhood in France, and later the United Kingdom for his schooling, however, as (most of) the Greek royal family fled their home country in 1922 following King Constantine’s abdication. In the United Kingdom, he primarily lived at Kensington Palace with his maternal grandmother Princess Victoria, then Victoria Mountbatten, a Dowager Marchioness — Mountbatten being the last name he took on for his marriage (which is why some members of the royal family now use the double-barreled Mountbatten-Windsor last name).

After graduating from Gordonstoun, a famous British public school, in 1939, Philip enlisted in the Royal Navy — he fought during World War II and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. Philip first met Queen Elizabeth (then Princess Elizabeth) also in 1939, when he gave her a tour of the Royal Naval College where he was studying. Elizabeth, then 13, is said to have fallen quickly in love with her 18 year-old Prince — the two struck up a correspondence and remained in contact throughout the war. In 1946, Philip asked Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, for his consent to propose; the royal engagement was announced a year later after Elizabeth had turned 21, and after Philip had naturalized as a British citizen (and given up his European royal titles).

Philip and Elizabeth were married in November 1947, at which point he assumed the Duke of Edinburgh title. (King George VI had granted him the ‘His Royal Highness’ title a day prior to the wedding — a little early wedding gift, when a set of soup spoons won’t cut it.) They have now been married for over 70 years.

In February 1952, Philip and Elizabeth were on a royal tour of Kenya when King George VI died — Philip is believed to have broken the news of his passing to Elizabeth. Her ascension to the throne made Philip prince consort (but was never officially titled thusly).

Philip and Elizabeth’s first child, Prince Charles, was born in 1948; Princess Anne followed in 1950, and later Prince Andrew and Prince Edward in 1960 and 1964 respectively. Continuing down the royal family tree, then, Philip was a grandfather of eight (Prince Charles’s sons Prince William and Prince Harry, Princess Anne’s children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, Prince Andrew’s daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, and Prince Edward’s children Louise and James Windsor ) and a great-grandfather of Prince William’s children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son Archie Harrison.

A keen sportsman, Philip played polo in his youth, and enjoyed the equestrian sport carriage driving, as well as yachting and flying — in a very upper class coincidence, his co-pilot during a 1962 flying tour of South America was Kate Middleton’s grandfather Peter. He also founded the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme in the 1950’s, which encouraged British teens to participate in volunteering, community building, and outdoors skills.

He served as the patron of over 800 organizations and charities, and attended over 22,000 royal engagements prior to his retiring from public duties in 2017. At a number of these appearances, Philip cultivated a reputation for sharing coarse jokes and racially-insensitive language; as early as 1960, he acknowledged these “gaffes” in a speech highlighting “the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science which I have practiced for a good many years.”

In a 2012 speech marking her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth described Philip as her “constant strength and guide” in life.

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