Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT, OM, GBE, AC, QSO, PC, (Philip Mountbatten, formerly Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark), styled - HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (born 10 June 1921), is the consort of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Originally a Greek subject, and a Prince of Greece and Denmark, he renounced these titles and his allegiance to marry Elizabeth. It is uncertain what his original surname was, but he is a member of the Danish Royal House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glcksburg. He now holds the titles of Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. Philip was also created a Prince of the United Kingdom and holds the style His Royal Highness.

In addition to his royal duties the Duke of Edinburgh is also the patron of many organisations including the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the WWF, and the Chancellor of Cambridge University. He possesses a dry sense of humour, and has acquired a reputation for sometimes making remarks on public visits that have been seen as undiplomatic, inappropriate, or racially insensitive.


Early life

Template:British Royal Family His Royal Highness Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born on 10 June 1921 atop a kitchen table at Villa Mon Repos on Corfu, a Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea. His father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the son of King George I of Greece and Queen Olga. His mother was Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (formerly Princess Alice of Battenberg), the elder daughter of the 1st Marquess of Milford Haven (formerly Prince Louis of Battenberg) and the Marchioness of Milford Haven (formerly Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine). Lady Milford Haven, through her mother, the Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine (formerly Princess Alice of the United Kingdom), was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and Princess Andrew was the sister of Queen Louise of Sweden.

Prince and Princess Andrew remained in residence on the island of Corfu for 18 months. Greece was politically unstable, and it was expected that the monarchy would soon be overthrown. On 22 September 1922, King Constantine I was forced to abdicate the throne. A revolutionary court sentenced Prince Andrew, his younger brother, to death. Fortunately for the family, King George V of the United Kingdom ordered that a Royal Navy ship evacuate the family, and Philip was carried to safety in a cot made from an orange box.


Prince and Princess Andrew and their children fled to Paris, where they took up residence at Saint-Cloud, in a villa belonging to Prince Andrew's sister-in-law Princess Marie Bonaparte. After being exiled, the marriage of Prince Philip's parents began to crumble. His father descended into alcoholism and gambling. His mother declined into mental instability, religious mania, and subsequent institutionalisation. Afterwards, Prince Philip was to see little of them.

Prince Philip's education began at an American school in Saint-Cloud. However, his grandmother, Lady Milford Haven, advised her daughter to have him educated in England. He subsequently departed for the Surrey preparatory school Cheam.

Aged twelve, Prince Philip departed England for Germany, studying at Salem Schule, a school in Southern Germany which belonged to his brother-in-law Prince Max of Baden. The school was supervised by Kurt Hahn, an education pioneer who had been an early admirer and later a fierce critic of the Nazi party. By the time Hitler came to power in 1933, however, Hahn, who was Jewish, had become alarmed by the radical developments of Nazism and relocated to Scotland where he founded Gordonstoun. (He also founded the organization Outward Bound.) Prince Philip also left Germany and went to Gordonstoun where he flourished academically and socially. He was the head of the hockey and cricket teams, and eventually became head boy. Prince Philip was so fond of the school that he later sent HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Prince Andrew and HRH The Prince Edward to Gordonstoun also, though his sons experienced the school with mixed results.

Naval career

On 1 May 1939, Prince Philip began his naval career at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth as a Special Entry Cadet. In his training year, Philip won the prestigious King's Dirk and the prize for best cadet of his entry. However, with the Second World War due to begin, Prince Philip would soon see real action.

In 1940 he served on HMS Ramilles in Colombo, Ceylon, as a Midshipman, patrolling the Indian Ocean and escorting troops from Australia to the Middle East. In 1941 he was transferred to HMS Valiant, a battleship stationed in Alexandria, Egypt. Philip acted as the searchlight control on the ship, helping to sink two Italian cruisers. Later service in the war saw Philip promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and serving during the invasion of Sicily. Philip was also present onboard HMS Whelp at the surrender of Japanese forces in Tokyo Bay.


On 20 November 1947, Prince Philip married the heiress presumptive to the British throne, The Princess Elizabeth, eldest daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The couple married at Westminster Abbey in London with the ceremony recorded and broadcast by the BBC.

Before they could marry, Prince Philip was required to convert from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism, to renounce his allegiance to the Hellenic Crown, and to become a naturalised British subject 1. He renounced his Greek and Danish royal titles on 18 March 1947 and decided to take the name Mountbatten, an Anglicised version of Battenberg, his mother's family name. The day before his wedding, King George VI created his future son-in-law Baron Greenwich, of Greenwich in the County of London, Earl of Merioneth and Duke of Edinburgh. The King also issued letters-patent allowing the Duke of Edinburgh to use the style His Royal Highness, in effect restoring Philip's original princely status. After their marriage, his wife became Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh. However, the King seemed to be under the impression that if Philip had the style of Royal Highness, he was also automatically a Prince of the United Kingdom. This was later deemed not to be correct, and the situation was rectified by his wife in 1957 (see below). However, from 1947 to 1957, Philip's legal name was technically His Royal Highness Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. However, due to the confusion, he was often referred to as His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, even in official documents.

The wedding itself was not without incident. In post-war Britain, for example, it was not acceptable to invite any of the Duke of Edinburgh's German relations, excepting his mother, who had been German by birth. Excluded from the ceremony were his four sisters, each of whom had married German aristocrats, some with Nazi connections. (His sister Princess Sophie's first husband, Prince Christophe of Hesse, for example, had been a member of the SS and an aide to Heinrich Himmler.) Also Mary, Princess Royal refused to attend because her brother the Duke of Windsor was not invited.

Duke of Edinburgh

After their marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh took up residence at Clarence House in London. The Duke was keen to pursue his naval career. However the knowledge that it would be eclipsed by his wife's future role as Queen was always in his mind. Nevertheless, he returned to the Navy after his honeymoon, and was stationed in Malta. He rose through the naval ranks and commanded his own frigate, HMS Magpie.

In January 1952, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh set off for a tour of the Commonwealth, with visits to Africa, Australia and New Zealand. On 6 February, when the Duke and Duchess were in Kenya, the Duchess's father, King George VI, died, and she ascended the Throne as Queen Elizabeth II. The Duke broke the news to the new Queen at their tree top hotel. The Duke was resigned to the fact that his naval career was now over, and he had a new role as the consort of the British monarch.


Unlike the wife of a British monarch, there is no corresponding role for the husband of a reigning Queen. In compensation, the Queen allowed Philip a free hand in the upbringing of their children, allowing Philip to decide on their education and future careers.

The accession of Elizabeth to the Throne brought up the question of the name of the Royal House. The Duke's uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, had advocated the new name House of Mountbatten, as Elizabeth would typically have taken Philip's name on marriage. When Queen Mary, Elizabeth's grandmother, heard about this, she told Sir Winston Churchill who later advised the Queen to issue a proclamation declaring that the Royal House was to remain the House of Windsor. Philip bitterly remarked that he had been "turned into an amoeba".

In 1953, the Duke was given the titles Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. This was in tune with the tradition established by Queen Victoria, who did not wish to take a military role that people of her gender could not normally assume (though she did not appoint her prince consort to these positions).

The Duke of Edinburgh has supported the Queen in her role for the past fifty years. The Queen and Duke attend state visits abroad, and receive foreign dignitaries together. The Duke often carries out his own separate engagements on behalf of the Queen at home and abroad.

The Duke is also patron of many organisations. He established the Duke of Edinburgh Award in 1956 to give young people "a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities". The scheme now operates in 100 countries around the world. He has also been the President of the World Wide Fund for Nature despite having been an enthusiastic hunter of rare species.

In 1956-1957, the Duke took a round-the-world voyage on board HMY Britannia, visiting the remote islands of the Commonwealth.

On the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, the Duke was commended by the Speaker of the House of Commons for his role in supporting the Queen during her reign.

One of the most controversial aspects of the Duke were his relationship with his daughters-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah, Duchess of York. He was alleged to have been hostile to Diana after her divorce from the Prince of Wales. The owner of Harrods, Mohamed Al-Fayed, even suggested in court that the Duke was responsible for ordering Diana's death, remarks that led the Duke and the other members of the Royal Family to rescind their Royal Warrants from Harrods.

Personal life

Throughout his marriage, rumours spread concerning the Duke's alleged extra-marital affairs. The first public media report of the allegation appeared in 1957 in the Baltimore Sun, which claimed REPORT QUEEN, DUKE IF RIFT OVER PARTY GIRL. Buckingham Palace in a breach with precedent commented on the story, denying it in a forthright manner.

Rumours, some published, many hinted at with references to a "senior royal" being a "ladies' man" continued throughout his marriage. Australia's Woman's Day front page once promised readers a detailed expos of 'Prince Philip's torrid sex life' with his 'famous lovers named'. Author Nicholas Davies suggested the Prince's supposed lovers included his cousin, Princess Alexandra of Kent, film-star Merle Oberon, and Susan Barrantes, mother of Sarah, Duchess of York. One rumour even claimed Philip had a homosexual affair with former President of France Valry Giscard d'Estaing, while the most widely believed list of 'lovers' included actress Pat Kirkwood, 1950s personality Katie Boyle, and Hlene Cordet, a childhood friend with whom he supposedly had children. Respected Royal biographer of King George VI and Elizabeth II Sarah Bradford expressed her belief that Philip had committed adultery. It was even suggested by Lauren Bacall that Philip used his 'close friends' the actors David Niven and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr to act as his beard, with they pretending to be escorting women in Philip's company who were in reality his girlfriends.

One German newspaper even claimed in 1995 that Buckingham Palace had confirmed that Prince Philip was the father of twenty-four illegitimate children, only to retract the claim when they realised that they had mistranslated information from the Palace and that it had said he had twenty-four godchildren.

However the Prince's most recent biographer, Gyles Brandreth, who interviewed Prince Philip, Kirkwood, Boyle, Cordet and friends, concluded the all the rumours were untrue; Kirkwood only met Philip socially on a handful of occasions, as did Boyle. The rumours concerning Cordet originated because she had had two children with her future second husband while separated from her first husband, but had declined at the time to name the father of her children, leading to rumours that it was her close friend Philip who was the father. Nor were Niven nor Fairbanks, contrary to Bacall's claims, more than casual acquaintences of Philip's whom he barely knew. Brandeth concluded that Philip had not had any sexual relationship outside his marriage, believing that it would have been out of character, given his personal devotion to the Queen, and also no independent verified evidence, even in the most widely believed cases, could be found. Philip himself noted how his face is internationally recognised and that he has been accompanied continually since 1947 by police and detectives, so that extra-marital relationships could not have been carried out and had they been, would invariably had been discovered. While the rumours spread, no British tabloid has ever unearthed evidence to support the claims.Template:Ref

Royal status

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Standard of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

The Queen created the Duke of Edinburgh a Prince of the United Kingdom in 1957, to correct the blunder that Philip was made a Duke and given the style of Royal Highness, but not made a Prince. To make this change significant, she styled him in the announcement His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, adding the definite article before his princely title, a usage normally restricted to the children of monarchs. An Order-in-Council was also issued in 1960 that stated the surname of male-line descendants of the Duke and the Queen who are not Royal Highnesses or Prince or Princess was to be Mountbatten-Windsor. This was to address the Duke's complaint that he was the only father in the country unable to pass his name to his children. In practice, however, the Queen and the Duke's children have all used Mountbatten-Windsor as the surname they prefer for themselves and their male-line children.

After her accession to the throne, the Queen also announced that the Duke was to have place, pre-eminence and precedence next to the Queen on all occasions and in all meetings, except where otherwise provided by Act of Parliament. This means the Duke is the first gentleman of the land, and even takes precedence over his son, the Prince of Wales.

The Queen has never granted the Duke the title of Prince Consort. This title was granted to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha by his wife, Queen Victoria, and has never been used again.

As the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, the Duke is approximately 560th in the line of succession to the British throne.

Children and grandchildren

Titles and honours

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Arms of Prince Philip

Shorthand titles

  • His Royal Highness Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (1921-1947)
  • Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, RN (1947)
  • Lieutenant Sir Philip Mountbatten, KG, RN (1947)
  • His Royal Highness Sir Philip Mountbatten, KG (1947)
  • His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh (1947-)

Full title

The Duke's full title is His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, of Greenwich in the County of London, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Member of the Order of Merit, Companion in the Order of Australia, Companion in the Queen's Service Order, Lord of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council.


Controversial remarks

Template:Wikiquote The Duke is particularly known in Britain for occasional controversial remarks made while on public visits. [1] (

  • When visiting China in 1986, he told a group of British students, "If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed".
  • After accepting a gift from a Kenyan native he replied, "You are a woman, aren't you?"
  • "If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it." (1986)
  • "British women can't cook." (1966)
  • To a British student in Papua New Guinea: "You managed not to get eaten then?"
  • Asked a Scottish driving instructor, "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough for them to pass the driving test?"
  • On a visit to the new Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, he told a group of deaf children standing next to a Jamaican steel drum band, "Deaf? No wonder you are deaf standing so close to that racket."[2] (
  • He asked an Australian aborigine, "Still throwing spears?" (2002)
  • Said to a Briton in Budapest, Hungary, "You can't have been here that long – you haven't got a pot belly." (1993)
  • To the President of Nigeria, who was dressed in traditional Muslim robes, "You look like you're ready for bed!"
  • Seeing a shoddily installed fuse box in a high-tech Edinburgh factory, HRH remarked that it looked "like it was put in by an Indian".[3] (
  • When a twelve-year-old boy told the Prince that he aspired to be an astronaut, His Highness responded, "You're too fat."
  • On the Royal Navy ship HMS Boxer, when given a tour of the ship, which was quite extended, was quoted to have said, "Not another fucking chamber"
  • In 1983, after meeting then-San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein and several female supervisors, he remarked, "Aren't there any male officials?... This is a nanny city."


  1. Template:Note For details of the rumours surrounding Prince Philip's life, see Gyles Brandreth, Philip & Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage (Arrow, 1994) pp.335-369.

As a descendant of the Electress Sophia of Hanover through his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, Philip could already claim to be a naturalised British subject under the terms of the Sophia Naturalization Act passed in Mountbatten, Herzog von Edinburgh es:Prncipe Felipe, Duque de Edimburgo fr:Philippe de Grce nl:Prins Philip, hertog van Edinburgh ja:フィリップ (エディンバラ公) no:Philip, hertug av Edinburgh pt:Filipe, Duque de Edimburgo th:เจ้าฟ้าชายฟิลิป ดยุคแห่งเอดินบะระ


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