Who was the Duke of Edinburgh and what do we know about his life?

Prince Philip was married to Britain's Queen for more than 70 years
Who was the Duke of Edinburgh and what do we know about his life?

By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

– Who was the Duke of Edinburgh?

The Duke of Edinburgh – also known as Prince Philip – was married to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

He was the longest-serving consort in British history.

The Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke of Edinburgh after attending West Newton Church near Sandringham, Norfolk in 2010 (Chris Radburn/PA)

– When was he born?

The duke was born on June 10th 1921 on the Greek island of Corfu.

He was a prince of Greece and Denmark and his parents were Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.

He was exiled from Greece as a child and grew up in France, Germany and Britain.

Prince Philip of Greece
Prince Philip of Greece (left) with his cousin King Michael Of Romania in 1928 (PA)

– How did he meet the Queen?

They were distant cousins and both great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria.

They attended some of the same events in their youth – a wedding in 1934 and King George VI’s coronation in 1937.

But they had their first publicised meeting in 1939 when Philip was 18 and Princess Elizabeth was 13.

Princess Elizabeth dancing with Philip
Princess Elizabeth dancing with her fiance, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (PA)

The princess’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, had taken her and her sister, Princess Margaret, to visit the naval college in Dartmouth and cadet Philip was assigned to entertain the princesses.

– What did Philip do in the Second World War?

He fought for Britain in the Royal Navy.

He saw active service from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, and by 1945 was in Tokyo Bay as the Japanese surrendered.

Philip
Prince Philip was a serving officer in the Royal Navy (PA)

He was mentioned in despatches for his service on battleship HMS Valiant in 1941.

– When did he marry Princess Elizabeth?

Philip and Elizabeth’s engagement was announced in July 1947 and the royal wedding took place on November 20th 1947 in London’s Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth was 21 and not yet Queen.

Five years after they married – in 1952 – George VI died and Elizabeth became the monarch.

The royal wedding in 1947
Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh leaving Westminster Abbey after their wedding ceremony (PA)

– What was the duke’s surname?

Philip renounced his Greek title and became a naturalised Briton in 1947. He became Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

He chose his new surname Mountbatten – an Anglicised form of his mother’s maiden name Battenberg – rather than Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg – the family name of the Danish royal house from which his father was descended.

He was made the Duke of Edinburgh by Princess Elizabeth’s father, George VI, just before the wedding. The queen later made him a prince of the UK.

– How did the queen and the duke manage to stay married for so long?

They shared interests – a love of horses and outdoor life – and had the same dutiful royal training.

The Queen and Philip during a state visit
The Queen and Philip react as they bid farewell to Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at Windsor Castle (Leon Neal/PA)

They were content in each other’s company but also happy to spend time apart.

Philip loved carriage driving, while the Queen might go to dinner with friends.

In character, they were very different. The duke was seen as cantankerous and adventurous, while the Queen is viewed as passive, cautious and conventional.

– How many children did they have?

The Queen and Philip had four children: Prince Charles (now the Prince of Wales), Princess Anne (now the Princess Royal),  Prince Andrew (now the Duke of York) and Prince Edward (now the Earl of Wessex).

The royal family
The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen and their children Prince Edward, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and Prince Andrew, at Balmoral in 1979 (PA)

– How was the duke related to Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Archie Mountbatten-Windsor?

He was George, Charlotte, Louis and Archie’s great-grandfather.

He was also grandfather to the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.

Trooping the Colour
The Duke of Edinburgh, the Duchess of Cambridge holding Princess Charlotte, Prince George and the Duke of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace (Yui Mok/PA)

– What did he do for the British royal family?

He is known for supporting the queen through her long reign, and carrying out thousands of royal engagements.

He also was involved for decades with hundreds of charities, and set up The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award youth adventure scheme.

– What else is he known for?

His gaffes. The duke was famed for his off-the-cuff remarks, which ranged from the quick-witted and funny to the politically incorrect and offensive.

Coronation Day
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on Coronation Day 1953 (PA)

– Why was he not King Philip?

The husband of a reigning queen, unlike a queen consort, is not crowned nor anointed at a coronation.

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