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 Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh

 

Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh 

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Earl of Merioneth & The Baron Greenwich, formerly Prince Philip of Greece & Denmark, later Philip Mountbatten, KG, KT, OM, ONZ, GCVO, GBE, AK, QSO, GCL, CC, CMM, CD, PC, PC(Can.), ADC(P), FRS was born on 10th June 1921 at Villa 'Mon Repos', Corfu, Greece, the only son and fifth child of Prince Andrew of Greece & Denmark (1882-1944) and Princess Andrew of Greece & Denmark, formerly Princess Alice of Battenberg, subsequently Mother Superior Alice-Elizabeth of the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary (1885-1969).  

 

Philip was christened a few days after is birth according to the rites of the Greek Orthodox Church at St. George's Church in the Palaio Frourio (Old Fortress) in Corfu.  His god-mother was Queen Olga of Greece, formerly Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia (1851-1926) who married in 1867 Philip's grandfather - King George I of the Hellenes, formerly Prince William of Denmark (Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg) (1845-1913). Philip's other god-parent is unusually 'Corfu City Council', and was represented at the christening by Alexander S. Kokotos, The Mayor of Corfu and Stylianos I. Maniarizis, The Chairman of the City Council.  Despite being born on the kitchen table, Philip's mother said of the birth to her family back in Darmstadt - "he is a splendid healthy child.  Thank God.  I am very well too.  It was an uncomplicated delivery and I am enjoying the fresh air on the terrace."

 

LEFT:

Prince Philip's parents - 

Prince Andrew

of Greece & Denmark

(left) with his wife - 

Princess Andrew

of Greece & Denmark,

(Princess Alice

 of Battenberg) (right), 

Mountbatten's sister 

 

FAR LEFT:

Prince Philip

of Greece & Denmark

in childhood

 

As a result of his dynastic ancestry, Philip is the oldest living great-great grandchild (and descendant) of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) and is related to the Royal Houses of Greece, Denmark and Russia - being a grandson of King George I of the Hellenes (1845-1913), great-grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark (1818-1906), and great-great grandson of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (1796-1855).  Through his mother, who was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901), Philip is in the line of succession to the British Throne in his own right. 

During World War I, the Greek Government had a policy of political neutrality but by 1917 this policy became untenable and following the abdication of the King Constantine I of the Hellenes (1868-1923) on 11th June 1917, the Greek Royal Family went into exile.  On 19th December 1920, Philip's uncle was restored to the Throne and his parents returned to Greece, residing at the Villa 'Mon Repos' in Corfu. After the defeat of the Greek Army in the Greco-Turkish War, a Revolutionary Committee seized power and forced The King into exile once again on 27th September 1922 and Prince Andrew was arrested and court-martialled for disobeying orders during the Battle of Sakarya.  Following a show trial, he and his family were banished from Greece.  Fearing their safety, the British Government sent HMS Calypso where Prince Andrew and his family, with Philip in a cot made of an orange box) were taken to Brindisi, Italy. The family subsequently made their home (with limited possessions) in Paris, France.  

Whilst in Paris, Philip was educated at at the MacJannet School for Young Americans - known as 'The Elms' in St. Cloud.  Donald MacJannet (1894-1986) described Philip as - "rugged, boisterous - but always remarkably polite.  He was full of energy and always got on with the other children."  Prince Andrew had stated that wanted his son to be educated in England and Philip was subsequently sent to Cheam Preparatory School, Cheam, Surrey in 1928, where Philip's uncle (and Mountbatten's elder brother) - Sir George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, formerly Prince George of Battenberg (1892-1938) had been sent.  

 

During this time he stayed with his uncle George at his home Lynden Manor, Bray, Berkshire and his grandmother - Victoria, The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, formerly Princess Victoria of Hesse & By the Rhine (1863-1950) at Kensington Palace, London.  Philip's father was now living in Monte Carlo with his mistress, his mother had been placed in an asylum in Switzerland having being diagnosed with schizophrenia and all 4 of his sisters had married various German Princes which must have made Philip feel somewhat on his own, stateless, homeless and perhaps unsure of his own future.

 

Prince Philip

of Greece & Denmark

(wearing traditional

Greek costume) aged 9yrs

In 1933, Philip was sent to Salem Castle School in Baden, Germany.  The School had been established in 1920 by Kurt Hahn (1886-1974), under the sponsorship of Maximilian, Margrave of Baden (1867-1929), whose son Bethold, Margrave of Baden (1906-1963) married in 1931 Philip's sister - Princess Theodora of Greece & Denmark (1906-1969). However, the political situation in Nazi Germany forced Hahn (who was Jewish and had been arrested for speaking out against the Nazi Goverment) to leave Germany and he came to Scotland, where he founded Gordonstoun School in 1934, which was based on the principals of developing strong leadership in its pupils which he had devised at Salem.

 

The funeral procession of Philip's sister - Princess Cecilie,

and members of her family in Darmstadt, 1937.

Philip is second from the right in the front row of mourners 

On 16th November 1937, Philip's sister - Princess Cecilie (1911-1937), who was 8mths pregnant, along with her husband Hereditary Grand Duke Georg Donatus 'Don', Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse (1906-1937) were killed in an aircraft crash, with several members of their family near Ostend, Belgium.  They were flying to England for the wedding of Prince Louis, The Prince of Hesse & By the Rhine (1908-1968) to The Hon. Margaret 'Peg' Geddes (1913-1997).  A few days later, the 16yr old Philip attended the funeral in Darmstadt, alongside his brothers-in-law who were all in Nazi uniforms.  Also in the procession of mourners included Mountbatten and his brother George, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven.