The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark, 10th June 1921) is the husband and consort of Queen Elizabeth II.
Originally a Prince of Greece and Denmark, Prince Philip abandoned those titles to serve in the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, but did not renounce them. In 1947, he married Princess Elizabeth, the heiress to King George VI. Prince Philip is a member of the Danish Royal House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Prior to his marriage, George VI created him Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich with the style of His Royal Highness. In 1957, Philip was created a Prince of the United Kingdom. Prince Philip took the anglicized name of his mother's family, Mountbatten (formerly Battenberg) after becoming a British citizen.
In addition to his royal duties, the Duke of Edinburgh is also the patron of many organisations, including The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and the World Wide Fund for Nature, and he is Chancellor of both the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh. In particular, he has devoted himself to raising public awareness of the relationship of humanity with the environment since visiting the Southern Antarctic Islands in 1956, and has published and spoken widely for half a century on this subject.
Prince Philip was born on 10 June 1921 at Villa Mon Repos on Corfu, a Greek island in the Ionian sea. His father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the fourth son of King George I of Greece and Queen Olga. His mother was Princess Alice of Battenberg, the elder daughter of the 1st Marquess of Milford Haven (formerly Prince Louis of Battenberg) and his wife, the former 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. Philip's mother Princess Alice was also a sister of Queen Louise of Sweden; George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven; and Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
Prince Andrew and Princess Alice 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, Constantine I was forced to abdicate the throne. Fortunately for the family, George V ordered that the Royal Navy vessel, HMS Calypso, evacuate the family and Philip was carried to safety in a cot made from an orange box.
Prince and Princess Andrew, along with their children, fled to Paris where they took up residence at Saint-Cloud, a villa belonging to Prince Andrew's sister-in-law Princess Marie Bonaparte. Prince Philip's education began at The American School of Paris 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 12, Prince Philip left England for Germany, studying at Schule Schloss Salem, a school in Southern Germany that belonged to Prince Maximilian of Baden, the father of his brother-in-law. Prince Philip left Germany in 1934, 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 The Prince of Wales, The Duke of York and The Earl of Wessex there.
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. The start of the Second World War meant that Prince Philip was soon on active duty.
In 1940 he served in HMS Ramillies 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 operator 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 army and naval 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, his third cousin through Queen Victoria and second cousin, once removed through Christian IX of Denmark. The couple married at Westminster Abbey in London with the ceremony recorded and broadcast by the BBC.
The day before his wedding, King George VI titled his future son-in-law Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich, of Greenwich in the County of London. The King also issued Letters Patent allowing the Duke of Edinburgh to use the style His Royal Highness. After their marriage, his wife became Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh.
After their marriage, the Duke and Princess Elizabeth took up residence at Clarence House in London. The Duke was keen to pursue his naval career. He returned to the Navy after his honeymoon, and was later stationed in Malta. He rose through the naval ranks and commanded his own frigate, HMS Magpie.
In January 1952, the Duke and Princess Elizabeth set off for a tour of the Commonwealth, with proposed visits to Africa, Australia and New Zealand. On 6 February, when they were in Kenya, the Princess's father, King George VI, died, and she ascended the theThrone as Queen Elizabeth II. The Duke broke the news to the new Queen at their hotel (Tree Tops).
In 1953, the Duke was given the rank and titles Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal, and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. He was also made the Captain-General of the Royal Marines.
The Duke of Edinburgh has supported the Queen in her role for well over 50 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's 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 is also President Emeritus of the World Wide Fund for Nature. In 1956-1957, the Duke took a round-the-world voyage on board HMY Britannia, visiting remote islands of the Commonwealth. This was when he first became aware of the effects of human industrialisation on the natural environment.
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.