PRINCE PHILIP, 1st DUKE OF EDINBURGH
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website click ABOVE
Prince Philip's arrival at the Opening Ceremony
of the Melbourne Olympics in 1956
Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh
(in the uniform of a Field Marshal)
on horseback at the Trooping of the Colour
at the gates of Buckingham Palace
in June 1953 (Coronation Year)
In 1956, Philip founded 'The Duke of Edinburgh's Award' which to this day still recognises young adults for completing a series of self-improvement exercises, originally created by his mentor Kurt Hahn (1886-1974), the founding headmaster of Gordonstoun. Today over 8 million young adults have been involved in 'The D of E', as the Award is affectionately known.
In October 1956, Philip undertook a tour of various countries around the World including Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, The Gambia and Antarctica in the newly commissioned Royal Yacht - HMY Britannia. Whilst on this tour he opened the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia - the first to be staged in the Southern Hemisphere and Oceania, as well as the first to be held outside Europe and North America. During this time there were many rumours that his marriage to The Queen was in difficulties, suggesting that he may have been unfaithful and was very unhappy always having to follow instructions from courtiers and politicians, and of course The Queen.
Although King George VI (1895(1936-1952) had created Philip in 1947 a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (KG), a Duke, an Earl and a Baron, with the qualification of Royal Highness, he was not officially a Prince - despite being informally known by his former Princely title. In February 1957, at the recommendation of the new Prime Minister - The Rt Hon. Harold Macmillan, later 1st Earl of Stockton (1894-1986) suggested to The Queen that this anomaly be resolved. On the day following their return from a State Visit to Portugal, The Queen issued Letters Patent on 22nd February 1957 stating that Philip would be granted - "the style and titular dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" and would officially be known as 'His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh'.
Philip - like most of the Royal Family, took an active part in charitable organisations and was a Patron of over 800 organisations, focusing on science & technology, sports, the environment and education, however towards the end of his life he started to 'hand over' patronages to other members of the family. Examples of his roles include - President of the National Playing Fields Association 1947-2013; President of the International Equestrian Federation 1964-1986; President of the British Amateur Athletic Board 1952-2000; President of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee 1952-1999; Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh 1953-2010 and President of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature 1961-1982 (International President 1981-1996 and President Emeritus since 1996).
Philip became was an active polo player, actively encouraged by his uncle - Mountbatten. He became one of the World's most famous polo players, but retired in 1971 after getting arthritis in his wrist. Soon after Philip took up horse carriage driving and became instrumental in the development of the sport, practically writing the sport's rule-book. He has represented Great Britain in three European Championships and six World Championships. The Prince is also well known for his love of painting, sailing, fishing, walking and of course his fiercely independent attitude and plain speaking which has often been the cause of some embarrassment and controversy over the years.
Prince Philip during a carriage driving competition
ABOVE: Prince Philip
after a polo match
LEFT: Prince Philip playing polo
at Smith's Lawn,
Windsor Great Park
BELOW: Prince Philip painting
ABOVE: Prince Philip playing polo
Life Colonel Commandant
of HM Royal Marines
with his nephew -
Prince Philip, Captain-General
of HM Royal Marines
Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip with their children -
(left to right) Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales,
now King Charles III;
Prince Edward; Prince Andrew & Princess Anne
at Buckingham Palace in 1972
An official photograph of
Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip,
for the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002
Prince Philip following a Service of Thanksgiving
at St Paul's Cathedral, London
for The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002
Members of the Royal Family onboard the Royal Barge -
'Spirit of Chartwell' for the Diamond Jubilee
Thames River Pageant in June 2012 (left to right) -
Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales,
later King Charles III;
Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh;
Queen Elizabeth II; The Duchess of Cornwall,
later Queen Camilla, Queen Consort;
The Duchess of Cambridge, later The Princess of Wales;
Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge,
now The Prince of Wales
and Prince Harry of Wales, later The Duke of Sussex
Although Philip undertook many solo engagements, he was more often seen by the wider public as Consort to The Sovereign, at the side of The Queen at many of the annual State occasions, State Visits and family events. Much has been said that Philip may not have been the most outwardly sensitive father to his children, but there is no doubt that despite his forthright views, he has always cared for them and been interested in their development and future, especially during the various bad times that have eclipsed the Royal Family over the years. In 1997, Philip said - "Like all families we went through the full range of the pleasures and tribulations of bringing up children. I am naturally somewhat biased but I think our children have done rather well under very difficult and demanding circumstances, and I hope we can be forgiven for feeling proud of them. I am also encouraged to see what a good start the next generation is making." At the Golden Wedding Anniversary celebrations on 20th November 1997, The Queen and Philip were guests of honour at a luncheon at Banqueting House, Whitehall, London. In her speech about their remarkable fifty years of marriage, in a rare moment of public praise, The Queen said of Philip - "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."
Throughout his last years, ill heath frequently dogged Philip - resulting in a great deal of speculation on his long term health issues. The Prince is known not to want fuss and of course Buckingham Palace refuse to discuss his health. However, following his admission to the King Edward VII Hospital, London for a few days in April 2008 with a chest infection - one newspaper subsequently printed that Philip had prostate cancer and Buckingham Palace unusually complained that the story invaded his privacy and forced the newspaper to accept the story was not true and they retracted the item.
In June 2012, following spending the day in the cold rain onboard the Royal Barge 'Spirit of Chartwell' for The Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant, Philip was taken to hospital with a bladder infection which forced him to pull out of the subsequent Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral and the Jubilee Concert. Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, later King Charles III (1948(2022- ) said at the Concert - "The only sad thing about this evening is that my father couldn't be with us because, unfortunately, he was taken ill but if we shout loud enough he might hear us in hospital... As a nation, this is our opportunity to thank you and my father for always being there for us, inspiring us with your selfless duty and service and for making us proud to be British." As expected with a man of his advanced years, from time to time, Philip had several health problems, and in June 2017 he was taken to hospital and missed accompanying The Queen to the State Opening of Parliament and Royal Ascot.
Unlike most other Mountbattens, Philip was not bothered about honours and titles, but was always observant at parades and official events and would often comment to someone in a line-up about a medal they wore. However, as with all military officers - Philip always always took time to ensure that he was correctly dressed for the right occasion from his vast array of uniforms. Towards the end of his life, Philip was given various honours including being appointed Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom on his 90th birthday (10th June 2011); an Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand (ONZ) on 29th June 2012 in the Diamond Jubilee Honours List and an Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Canada (CC) on 23rd April 2013. However, one particular honour was to be controversial - Philip was appointed a Knight of the Order of Australia (AK) on 7th January 2015 (Australia Day Honours) by The Queen (as Queen of Australia) upon the recommendation of The Hon. Tony Abbott (b.1957), the Prime Minister of Australia. Abbott was extremely unpopular and his personal recommendation was met with scorn from many among the Australian public who questioned the Prince's contributions to Australia and pointed out that as a member of the British Royal Family, he was a symbol of another country and nothing more than a "foreigner".
Abbott (a staunch Monarchist) had restored Knights and Dames to Australia’s honours system in early 2014, nearly 30 years after they were abolished in 1986. Ultimately the appointment of Philip as a Knight of the Order of Australia precipitated a leadership crisis, which Abbott lost and on 15th September 2015, he was replaced as Prime Minister by The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull (b.1954), who as a Republican requested that The Queen cease to create Knights and Dames within the Australian honours system stating that they were "no longer appropriate" although existing holders of the honour would not be affected. At the time of his death in April 2021, Philip was one of the last 4 remaining Knights of the Order of Australia.
Queen Elizabeth II
(in her capacity as Queen of Australia)
awarding her husband
Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh
the insignia of a Knight of the Order of Australia (AK)
The insignia of a Knight
of the Order of Australia (AK)