Prince Philip has passed away aged 99.
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.
His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. pic.twitter.com/XOIDQqlFPn
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 9, 2021
From The Times:
Prince Philip was born in 1921 in Corfu, the fifth child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. His family, the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, were descended from Danish aristocracy and placed on the Greek throne in 1863. Their tempestuous relationship with Greece culminated in a coup d’état in 1922. The royal family were forced into exile.
Philip and his parents settled in modest circumstances in Paris, where he began his education at an American school, the Elms. Away from his home country, Philip was of uncertain status. Of advantage, however, were his links with Britain. Via his mother he was the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria and grandson of Prince Louis of Battenberg (whose anglicised family name, Mountbatten, he would later adopt). To cultivate these connections, Philip was sent to a traditional preparatory school, Cheam, in Hampshire, between 1928 and 1933. In Britain the Mountbattens took care of him, especially after his mother’s hospitalisation for paranoid schizophrenia in 1930.
Philip’s schooling proceeded at two elite if rather unorthodox schools. The first, Schule Schloss Salem near the Bavarian Alps, was an institution where liberality of mind was imparted in a rugged and austere physical environment. When the Nazis forced its Jewish founder, Kurt Hahn, to flee, he restarted his project at a new school: Gordonstoun in Scotland. Philip followed, and thrived. Hahn’s appraisals of his student — “lively intelligence”, “meticulous attention to detail and pride of workmanship”, “capacity to derive great fun from small incidents” — continued to ring true.
In 1939 Philip left Gordonstoun and, aged 18, entered the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in Devon. He graduated top of his class having received commendations including best cadet. His capability as a naval officer was apparent from the start and, had his life gone differently, few doubt that he would have achieved distinction on his own merits. During the war Philip served around the world, seeing action in the Mediterranean in 1941 and witnessing the Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay.
From The Telegraph:
Dubbed irascible, and said to drop “bricks”, he was clear-thinking and positive, subtly instigating changes within the monarchy and in many areas of public life. It is probable that his achievements will be fully appreciated only in the reflective light of the years following his death.
He was alert to the danger of the monarchy becoming a museum piece, however, and had no time for what he called “fundungus”, or false trappings. He disliked unnecessary pomp, and “zoo teas”, where the people gawped at their Sovereign.
He also had an instinctive dislike of the kind of chairmen who materialised during visits to factories, delivered slick speeches, but were not adequately engaged. These figures he enjoyed catching out.
Like the Queen, he liked to meet the people who did the job and to learn what made them tick. On royal visits, when time was limited, he could come across as abrupt, even aggressive. But at all times he welcomed a frank exchange and he liked people to stand up to him.
Much of the sniping arose from his famous diplomatic gaffes. In China he was quoted as having remarked to a group of British students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” To the president of Nigeria, wearing traditional robes, he said: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”
Of an Australian aboriginal chieftain, he inquired: “Do you chaps still chuck spears at each other?” And to a British student trekking in Papua New Guinea, he quipped: “So you managed not to get eaten then?”
Such remarks were seized on by journalists eager to propagate the notion that he was a boorish fool, a racist, or, as he put it, “an uncultured, polo-playing clot”. No doubt the Duke made up his mind too easily, and tended to be brisk in brushing aside opposing views, but his main mission was to engage with the person he was talking to, to get a rise and, if possible, a laugh.
The man who was so often presented as an ignorant philistine took immense pains to be well informed. In 1990 his biographer, Tim Heald, counted 8,385 volumes in his private library at Buckingham Palace – 560 books on birds, 456 on religion, 352 on the Navy and ships, and no fewer than 209 books of poetry. Prose fiction did not feature so largely, apart from tales of adventure and daring.
There was also a surprising sensitivity and humility lurking beneath the gruffness. Aged 21, he wrote to a relation: “I know you will never think very much of me. I am rude and unmannerly and I say many things out of turn which I realise afterwards must have hurt someone. Then I am filled with remorse and try to put matters right.”
In private, Philip and Elizabeth were like any elderly couple, biographer Sarah Bradford said. “If the queen wanted to give the corgis tea and biscuits and they were roaming around the floor being a nuisance, he would shout and she would pay no attention,” Ms. Bradford said. “He was the only man in the world who could treat her as an ordinary woman.”
During her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, Queen Elizabeth called Prince Philip her “constant strength and guide.” He died the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family.