Prince Philip, the Queen's beloved husband, passes away at age 99

By Zach Harper

Prince Philip, the Queen's beloved husband, passes away at age 99


Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh has passed away at age 99.

Buckingham Palace confirmed the death of the Queen's husband of 73 years and consort on April 9.

"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," the statement read. "His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss. Further announcements will be made in due course."

Philip as a toddler in 1922. Photo: © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Philip’s incredible life was full of dramatic upheavals, struggle and triumph both in and outside of the U.K. Born at Mon Repos on the Greek island of Corfu on June 10, 1921, the duke was originally a member of the Greek and Danish royal families and was the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg, one of Queen Victoria's great-granddaughters. He was the youngest of five children and brother to four sisters: Margarita, Theodora, Cecillie and Sophie.

While Philip was just a baby, he was forced to flee Greece in the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. After his uncle, King Constantine I, abdicated the throne in 1922 and Philip's father was banned from Greece for life, the little boy was famously smuggled out of the country on the HMS Calypso in a cot that had been created from a fruit crate.

Philip's family settled in France, and he began attending school at The Elms, an American school in Paris. He was later sent to Cheam School in the U.K. He later famously attended Gourdonston school in Scotland in the 1930s – a very difficult decade that contained lots of loss for the young boy.

Philip in a production of Macbeth at Gordonstoun in 1935. Photo: © Fox Photos/Getty Images

In 1937, his sister Cecillie, her husband George Donatus and her two sons Ludwig and Alexander were killed in a plane crash in the Netherlands, along with Cecillie’s mother-in-law, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohesolms-Lich. Cecillie, who was pregnant at the time of the crash, was also believed to have gone into labour at the time of the accident, since a newborn baby was found in the wreckage. Cecillie's death may have been one of the reasons Philip later learned to fly.

In early 1939, Philip travelled to Greece to live with his mother for a short period, before returning to the U.K. to complete his training with the Royal Navy. In World War II, he served bravely in the British armed forces, spending time on HMS Ramillies in the Indian Ocean, the HMS Kent and HMS Shropshire in waters off the coast of Sri Lanka and the HMS Valiant in the Battle of the Mediterranean. For his services during the Battle of Crete and Battle of Cape Matapan, he was awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour, and he was later present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered in 1945.

The Queen - then Princess Elizabeth - and Philip after their wedding in 1947. Photo: © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Fate – and love – first struck the young man in 1939, when King George VI came to the Royal Naval College with his daughter, Princess Elizabeth, who was 13 at the time. She and Philip began writing to each other, which led him to ask George VI to marry Elizabeth in 1946. When Elizabeth turned 21 in 1947, the happy couple officially announced their engagement, marrying at Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20 of that year. Theirs was a marriage that set records, and saw Philip become the longest serving consort, with the two spending more than 73 years together. Philip also went on to be the oldest consort in history.

From 1949, the young family lived in Malta, where Philip was stationed as first lieutenant on the HMS Chequers in a period often described as the "most normal" of their familial life. But things changed forever while he and the princess were on tour in Kenya in 1952 and George VI died, making Elizabeth the new Queen.

The Queen and Philip at her Coronation in 1953. Photo: © Keystone/Getty Images

From then on, Philip, who was made Duke of Edinburgh and a prince of the United Kingdom early in Her Majesty’s reign, served the Queen unfailingly, accompanying her to the State Opening of Parliament, state dinners and foreign tours until his retirement from royal duties in 2017.

Philip has also always been a great modernizer, and helped shepherd in a new kind of monarch when his wife acceded the throne. He famously pushed for the BBC to televise Elizabeth II’s coronation, giving viewers around the world an unprecedented glimpse into royal life. It’s now commonplace to televise royal events such as weddings and funerals partly because of his work.

Philip makes guests laugh at the Presentation Receptions for The Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh in 2010. Photo: © Danny Lawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Duke of Edinburgh spent nearly his entire life in service to the Crown, and also has spent extensive time giving back, ever since the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was founded in 1956. Its goal has always been to encourage the leaders of tomorrow to develop “a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities.” The prince also patronized more than 800 organizations during his life.

Prince Philip was also a loving and devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and was fortunate to see his influence and legacy on the family through what was nearly a century of lifetime. He and the Queen welcomed four children: Prince Charles in 1948, Princess Anne in 1950, Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964, long after the family had transitioned to living in Buckingham Palace.

Prince Philip and the Queen - then Princess Elizabeth - with Prince Charles and Princess Anne in 1951. Photo: © Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

By the end of his life, Philip had eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. He was very much a family man, having introduced traditions into the royal household such as polo, which has been passed down to Princes Charles and Andrew and his grandchildren Prince William and Prince Harry. His love of horses, shared by the Queen, was also inherited by Anne and her daughter, Zara Tindall, both of whom have competed as equestrians at the summer Olympics.

Philip’s athleticism also extended to squash, which he played throughout his life. Following his retirement from the polo field, he helped popularize the sport of carriage driving. He was also an avid rower early in life, taking part in competitions while he was in the Royal Navy. After Her Majesty acceded the throne in 1953, Philip started to become known for his oil paintings, some of which even depict his wife.

Photo: © Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images

In recent years, Philip's health had been quite up and down. He began reducing his royal duties in 2011 and was hospitalized in 2012, 2013, 2017, 2019 and earlier this year. During his most recent hospitalization, he received heart surgery and had returned home last month.

The duke's hip was replaced in April 2018 and he amazed royal watchers by being able to walk by the time of Harry and Duchess Meghan's wedding the next month – also doing so with a cracked rib.

Even at the time of his final hospitalization in 2021, he was determined to walk himself through the doors while checking himself in for admission. It was an act that showed the resilience and determination he carried with him throughout his life.

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