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Prince Philip (1921–2021), husband of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom

by Linnea Crowther

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. Having married Elizabeth in 1947, he was the longest-serving royal consort in British history, as well as Britain’s oldest male royal in history.

Prince Philip’s early life

Born on the Greek island of Corfu, Prince Philip was a member of the Greek and Danish royal families and a descendant of both Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Emperor Nicholas I of Russia. His ancestry made him a relative of Russia’s House of Romanov as well as a third cousin to his wife, Queen Elizabeth II. Educated in France and England, Philip served in the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy during World War II. He met Elizabeth when they were both in their teens, and they married five years before her ascension to the throne.

Duties and interests of the Duke of Edinburgh

As consort to the Queen, Prince Philip toured the Commonwealth at her side and often accompanied her to ceremonies and meetings. In 1956, he established the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which encourages young people to engage in activities including volunteerism, fitness, and adventuring in order to earn gold, silver, or bronze awards. Prince Philip’s interests included the environment and wildlife, sports, and engineering. He was UK president of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 to 1982, as well as president of the National Playing Fields Association from 1947 to 2013. He was a longtime patron of the British Heart Foundation and established the Prince Philip Medal in Engineering. Prince Philip played polo and helped develop the sport of carriage driving. In 2017, at age 96, Prince Philip announced that he would officially retire from his royal duties.


An impolite public speaker

Prince Philip was long known for making public jokes that many found inappropriate. Over the decades, his humor frequently came in the form of one-liners at the expense of various groups of people, ranging from women and the unemployed to Indians, Africans, and the Scottish. In later years, public criticism of Prince Philip’s proclivity for offense grew, as his impoliteness was increasingly mismatched with 21st century norms.

Funeral details

The funeral for Prince Philip took place on Saturday, April 17 at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the service was small, with only 30 family members and close friends attending. More than 700 military service members provided ceremonial support outdoors. Prince Philip’s coffin was transported in a modified Land Rover, per his wishes, and was laid to rest in the Royal Vault. It will remain there until the Queen dies, at which point they will be interred together at the King George VI memorial chapel.

What people said about him


Full obituary: The New York Times

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