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Remembering the Duke of Edinburgh


Yesterday, 9th April 2021, Buckingham Palace announced the death of HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. 

The palace released a statement reading, “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.” 

Prince Phillip was the longest serving consort in history and will be remembered by people across the world for his unwavering devotion to his country and committed support of the Queen. 

The Duke was born on the 10th June 1921 on the island of Corfu. Born into royalty, Phillip’s father was Prince Andrew of Greece and his mother Princess Alice of Battenberg. His early years were marked by revolution and overthrow. His father was banished from Greece after a coup in 1922. His family were rescued by a British warship, sent by King George V. Phillip, still only a baby, spent the voyage tucked away in crib made from an orange box. 

These formative years made an impression on the hardy and stoic Duke, who was later educated in France, Germany, and Scotland. The incredibly strict schooling up in Scotland at Gordonstoun School in freezing cold conditions prepared Phillip for a life in the military. After leaving school, Phillip attended the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. It was here where he would meet his future wife. While King George VI toured the college, the responsibility of escorting the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, fell to the Duke. The story told now suggests that the Duke made quite an impression on young Elizabeth. 

Throughout Naval college, Phillip displayed great talent and subsequently came out top of his class. By October 1942, in the middle of WW2, Phillip was one of the most promising first lieutenants in the Royal Navy, applying his trade on board the HMS Wallace. Prime Minster Boris Johnson, in his tribute to the Duke acknowledged his status as a war hero and one of the last surviving people to fight in WW2. 

During his years in the Navy, Phillip and Elizabeth exchanged letters of correspondence. Their courtship went from strength to strength and included Elizabeth frequently inviting Phillip to spend time with the Royal Family. By 1946, the couple were well and truly in love and in the summer of that year, the Duke asked the King for his daughters’ hand in marriage. 

The marriage between Elizabeth and Phillip has been documented heavily. The wedding ceremony was broadcast to over 200 million people worldwide, in what was one of Phillip’s ideas to modernise the monarchy. 

His military career was curtailed with the death of his father-in-law, King George VI. It was Phillip, who was given the burden of telling Elizabeth that her father had died. From that moment on, both Phillip and Elizabeth’s lives changed forever, Phillip was now the consort to the Queen. Even Phillip has acknowledged, being husband to the Queen was an incredibly important and tiring role, filled with sacrifices. Yet, instead of dwelling on this aspect, the Duke made use of his position and strength of character to help as many people as possible. 

Particularly keen on the welfare of children, one of his most famous accomplishments was launching his outstandingly successful Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 1956. Since the launch, over 10 million youths, in over 130 countries have participated in the award. A statistic the Duke was said to be immensely proud of. 

Phillip also took great interest in nature and science. He was commended throughout his life for his efforts in raising publicity for conservation of the world’s forests and oceans. He was a perfect choice for the first president of the World Wild Fund for Nature. 

He remained active well into his later years. He always showed a passion for sport, in particular, polo and cricket and he represented Great Britain at carriage driving in six World and three European Championships. Phillip was side-by-side with the Queen as England were handed the Football World Cup trophy after defeating West Germany 4-2 at Wembley in the famous 1966 tournament. 

The Duke was a natural leader, a true gentleman with an unforgettable sense of humour, and a strong willed, independent man. Even though his job title forced him to play second fiddle, Buckingham Palace calculated that, on his retirement from public duty, Prince Phillip had completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952. 

Many will recognise Phillip’s achievements across the world. He was involved in over 750 organisations, serving as president, patron or member and his work for charities over his lifetime serves as a lesson for all of us. 

Yet, the Duke always said, his one job was to ensure his wife, the Queen, could effectively rule our great nation effectively with grace. 

Prince Phillip’s service to Queen and Country has no parallels. To mark the couple’s golden wedding anniversary, the Queen said, “He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments, but he has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years. And I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.”

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