The Duke of Edinburgh Retires From Public Life

Britain bid a fond farewell to Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, who retired from public service on August 2nd.

At the age of 96, the Duke felt it was time to step back and let the younger generation manage the day-to-day engagements and patronages that are the center of royal life. Philip is also a big believer in going out while on top. The Queen is still steering the ship of monarchy, but even Her Majesty, 91, started scaling back a few years ago by ending her overseas travel and lengthy royal tours.

Prince Philip, who calls himself “the world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler” isn’t your typical royal. His events were always memorable thanks to his blunt statements, which have garnered both countless critics and a legion of fans. In a world where high-profile people are often scripted and politically correct, Philip has been the opposite. His so-called gaffes have led to published works such as The Duke of Hazard: The Wit & Wisdom of Prince Philip, a compilation of his best quotes throughout the years.

Who Is Philip?

Philip’s quick mind and rough-around-the-edges manner formed during his early years of family turmoil. Though Philip was born a prince of Greece and Denmark, his life was very un-royal as the family barely had any money. What they did manage to acquire was gambled away by their father, Prince Andrew, despite their family of five mouths to feed (four daughters and Philip, born in 1921). As if that wasn’t bad enough, Prince Andrew and Princess Alice had to escape Greece’s political upheaval and the family were evacuated on a warship sent by King George V. Philip was only a year old.

The breaking point came while Philip was away at Cheam, a boarding school in Berkshire, England. Prince Andrew ran off with his mistress, and Philip’s mother, Princess Alice, had a nervous breakdown and went away for treatment. He stayed with various relatives as he went through his school years, never getting a chance to form any roots. This likely established his pragmatic attitude: there’s no time for being sentimental or wistful.

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The prince’s sister Theodora decided to take a hand in Philip’s education and enrolled him in the Salem School in Germany. It was founded by her father-in-law and Kurt Hahn, a German-Jewish educator. When the Nazis came to power, Hahn fled to Scotland and Salem was closed. Philip followed him to Scotland and enrolled in Hahn’s new school, Gordonstoun. It was a highly structured environment in which Philip thrived. It was a blessing after the fractured early years of his life.

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July 1935: Schoolboy Prince Philip of Greece in costume for his school Gordonstoun’s production of Macbeth. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

After leaving Gordonstoun, Philip entered Dartmouth Royal Naval College at the urging of his maternal uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten. Mountbatten had evolved into Philip’s father-figure, and he steered Philip towards a naval education and career much like his own. Mountbatten had risen to the rank of First Sea Lord and he hoped for similar successes for Philip.

Young Philip Wins Elizabeth’s Heart

Princess Elizabeth met Philip during a visit with her parents to Dartmouth Naval College – she was 13 and Philip was 18. It was love at first sight for Elizabeth, who was taken by Philip’s golden tan and splash of blond hair. His rough jokes and devil-may-care attitude stood in stark contrast to Elizabeth’s genteel upbringing, but that was what Elizabeth found so exciting and she loved his high spirits. The king was not impressed, however. He thought Philip was coarse and loud.

As the years went by, the princess stayed in touch with Philip while he was overseas on duty. World War II delayed the courtship, but Elizabeth remained firm in her devotion to him. George VI had grown to like Philip and admired his active role in the Navy, his own choice of military career when he was the Duke of York. When on leave, Philip was invited to stay with the royal family and was also a regular guest of the Mountbattens. Philip had finally found family stability.

After the war had ended, the public was finally let in on the secret – Philip and Elizabeth were to be married. Philip presented Elizabeth with a ring whose diamonds had once been in one of his mother’s old tiaras. Princess Alice, at that time residing in London, had brought her diamonds to a jeweler in Bond Street to create the ring. It was too risky for Philip to do so in case he was recognized.

Though King George had relented over Elizabeth’s wish to marry Philip, he was bothered that his little family would no longer be “us four”. He was sad to lose his daughter to marriage, but after the magnificent wedding at Westminster Abbey, he was proud to see Elizabeth and Philip so happy.

Decades of Service

I believe that George VI would not only be incredibly proud of Elizabeth in her years as queen, but also of Philip’s devotion to the duties that came with his own role. It is to Philip’s credit that he has kept so many things updated and functioning smoothly, the royal residences being one example. He’s also been a key player in helping members of the family: he walked his sister-in-law, Princess Margaret, down the aisle for her wedding after the king died. Philip was known to try and cheer up Diana, Princess of Wales when she was struggling in her marriage, and he has helped bolster the Queen countless times when she probably felt exhausted or in need of a laugh. You can’t do all that without a good strength of character, which I feel Philip has in abundance.

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The Queen and Duke’s other “big day”.

It hasn’t always been easy for Philip, though. He blanched at losing his position as man of the house when the Queen ascended to the throne. No longer were they the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh; Elizabeth was The Queen, and Philip would have to walk behind her in public and be her support. He did this admirably, and part of that was because Elizabeth acknowledged that Philip needed to have a leading role to play. In private, therefore, he was the head of the family. He was also tasked with looking after renovations and improvements to royal homes. The Duke was also extremely active in his growing list of patronages and duties. His most well-known patronage was encouraged by Kurt Hahn himself – The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. This was a project that Philip managed and relished for decades.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has helped countless young people on their sometimes difficult path to adulthood,” the Duke explained. As someone who experienced his own difficult path to adulthood, The D of E Award closed the circle for Philip. He found his stability and then began his own efforts to help others find theirs, too.

From your self-motivated path to excel to your naval service, all the way until August 2nd, 2017, I’m sure I speak for many people when I say “thank you, Prince Philip”. May you enjoy your retirement (though I doubt he will rest on his laurels any time soon)!

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Philip Enters Hospital On Precautionary Note

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HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, popularly known as Prince Philip, was taken to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in Scotland earlier today.

The 91-year-old Philip is said to be suffering from a bladder infection once more, which he first suffered in June. People joked that the Duke simply wanted to escape the performances of modern pop singers during the Diamond Jubilee concert. He left the hospital soon after and went right back to work and, in typical Philip style, brushed off any concerns.

Those in the know are saying that Philip’s condition is not critical, that he was taken to the hospital as “a precautionary measure” only.

The Queen and Duke are currently in Scotland until the end of the summer. The royal couple usually spend their time during this season at the Balmoral estate. Aberdeen is located to the east on the coastline.

Tiara tip to: CNN and Buckingham Palace

Ninety Years of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, during a...

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An elderly gentleman is looking at you with a curious eye. What you’re saying seems to interest him, but he suddenly blurts out, “We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves”.

There it is – Prince Philip’s opinion, whether you’re ready or not. You always know where you stand with the Queen’s husband.

Today marks the dazzling Duke’s 90th birthday, and he has shown no sign of slowing down, physically or verbally. This post looks back on the monarchy’s most powerful personality and Britain’s longest-serving consort.

A Son Is Born

Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark began life on the small Greek island of Corfu. He was born June 10, 1921 to Prince Andrew of Greece and his wife, Princess Alice of Battenberg. The young prince was the final addition to their family of four children.

Greece was politically unstable throughout the 1920s, and Philip’s uncle, King Constantine I of Greece, was forced to abdicate the throne in 1922. Prince Andrew, the king’s younger brother, was sentenced to death by revolutionaries.

King George V of Great Britain sent Royal Navy ship HMS Calypso to evacuate the Greek Royal Family. He felt immense guilt over the deaths of the Romanovs – his Russian cousin Tsar Nicholas II and his family – after he had denied them asylum in England during the Russian revolution. The king was determined not to make the same mistake. The ship arrived in time to get Prince and Princess Andrew and their children to safety. Baby Philip was carried aboard the vessel in an orange crate.

They lived in exile in France, where Philip’s childhood was darkened by the departure of Prince Andrew to a mistress and Princess Alice to a nervous breakdown. Philip’s sisters, all several years older than he, married and went off to live their own lives. With the breakup of his immediate family, Philip traveled Europe, bouncing from family member to family member. The prince had only battered suitcases, an old suit, his naval uniform, and his father’s shaving kit.

There was no time to dwell upon the negative, however. In his characteristically Philip way, he pushed himself to strive for excellence. He seemed to excel in everything he did, whether it be sport or naval life. His maternal uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, liked what he saw and took the young prince under his wing.

The ambitious Mountbatten, First Sea Lord in the Royal Navy and Viceroy of India, was also intensely interested in his nephew’s marital prospects. When Philip spoke of courting Britain’s Princess Elizabeth, whom he’d first met when King George and Queen Elizabeth toured Dartmouth Naval College, Mountbatten was thrilled.


Becoming English

King George VI was initially hesitant about the blond young foreigner. The king was protective of his two daughters, especially Princess Elizabeth, his heir. His Majesty had already lined up several eligible bachelors – all titled gentlemen, and most importantly, all English. The coarse young Greek prince in his threadbare suit was not in the least a gentleman in the eyes of the king. But Elizabeth, charmed by the thought of a romance with the Viking-esque prince, liked Philip immensely.

There were harumphs all around, except for Queen Mary. She liked Philip immediately. The prince’s bawdy jokes and lighthearted banter endeared him to the elderly queen, who saw Philip for what he was – straightforward, insightful, and clever.

When asked what sort of a son-in-law someone like Philip would make, Queen Mary sharply replied, “Useful”.

The impressively regal queen had once been a princess of Teck, the German principality which her paternal family governed. The Tecks were considered to be minor royals and financially poor relations. When Mary had been proposed as a match for King Edward VII’s heir, Albert Victor (Eddy), she was mocked and teased by Eddy’s sisters. Queen Victoria, however, was extremely impressed by the sensible Mary and deemed her a proper consort. Victoria knew that she would steer the feckless prince away from a life of debauchery.

Eddy died before the marriage could take place, but that didn’t deter the queen. She decided that Mary should become engaged to her other grandson, George. Victoria was entirely confident of Mary’s ability to be an excellent consort, and history has proven her absolutely correct.

Queen Mary, too, was proven correct in her sharp assessment of consorts.

Marriage To England’s Heir

Letters flew back and forth between Elizabeth and Philip during his tenure in the Royal Navy. After World War II came to an end, they quietly got engaged. King George VI eventually relented and gave his consent, but declared that they should delay matters until Elizabeth turned 21 the following year. During the waiting period, Philip had to convert to the Anglican Church of England and relinquish his title as a Prince of Greece and Denmark. The prince relinquished it all and became Philip Mountbatten, the Anglicized version of his Battenberg family name.

On November 20, 1947, Philip and Elizabeth married at Westminster Abbey. Prior to the wedding day, the king conferred upon Philip the titles of The Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich as well as the style of His Royal Highness. When the couple took their vows, Elizabeth officially became known as HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh.

The royal couple enjoyed their time together, spending their honeymoon at Broadlands, Lord Mountbatten’s estate. When Philip was posted on duty in the Royal Navy, Elizabeth would often accompany him. Soon, however, Elizabeth was filling in for her father on official duties more often. The king’s cancer was rapidly spreading, and on top of this he was also suffering from ateriosclerosis.

During Elizabeth and Philip’s official royal tour, King George VI died. The painful news bulletin came through to Philip while they were in Africa, and he was now given the task of informing Elizabeth. When Martin Charteris, then Assistant Private Secretary, went to see her, she was composed. Philip had been the rock she needed to keep going, and Charteris noted that the new Queen was ‘very composed, an absolute master of her fate”. A new chapter had begun for the royal couple.


Elizabeth by Sarah Bradford
Official Website of the British Monarchy

 

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