Remembering The Late Prince Philip's Life & Legacy On What Would Have Been His Birthday

Jun 07, 2024 by apost team

We remember the late Prince Philip on what would have been his birthday. He and Queen Elizabeth were married for over 70 years, which landed him the title of the longest-serving spouse of any British monarch. His passing in 2021 left his family and nation deep in mourning. 

A statement released by Buckingham Palace on April 9, 2021, said, “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh." It continued, “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle."

In the months leading up to his death, Philip had been in ill health. Just nine weeks before he passed, the prince was admitted to King Edward VII's Hospital in London on Feb. 16, 2021, on a precautionary basis since he reportedly felt unwell. Following his admission, he underwent surgery for a heart condition. Buckingham Palace released a statement following his March 16 release from the hospital, calling the procedure “successful.”

Sadly, however, Philip passed away not long after. His burial took place on April 17, 2021, and due to pandemic restrictions, it was a much smaller service than had been planned, with only 30 members of the immediate royal family in attendance. This included the queen, her and Prince Philip's children — King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — and their spouses, the Prince and Princess of Wales and Prince Harry, who flew in from California and attended alone since Meghan was heavily pregnant at the time.

As the years have passed, Philip’s legacy remains thanks to his son King Charles’ reign. Keep reading to learn more about Prince Philip’s life and how his eldest son has continued to live out the tenacity he inherited from his dear father. 

Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (1947), (IMAGO/Gemini Collection)

Prince Philip's life was a truly remarkable one. Born on June 10, 1921, on the Greek island of Corfu, Philip was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Despite his roots, the prince was primarily educated in Great Britain, attending Gordonstoun School in Scotland and the Royal Naval College in England. 

Following his service in World War II — Philip was a pilot for the British Royal Navy in the Mediterranean and Pacific — he became a British subject, which meant he had to give up his claim to Greek and Danish royalty. That same year, in 1947, Philip, then 26, married then-Princess Elizabeth, who was 21, at Westminster Abbey. From then until Elizabeth’s crowning in 1953, Philip continued his military service with the Royal Navy as a commander of the Magpie, a frigate ship. 

“It’s easy to look at the military career of a royal male and see it as a rite of passage, but with Philip one needs to look beyond that,” said Ashley Jackson, a professor of imperial and military history of Philip’s military career. He added, “This wasn’t a brief dalliance in the military. It’s important to note that he’s clearly an exceptional officer.”

Following Elizabeth's accession to the throne, Philip served as the queen's consort and played an active role as a senior member of the royal family. Over the years, he carried out 22,219 solo engagements, went on 637 solo overseas visits, gave 5,496 speeches and authored 14 books.

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth (1947), (IMAGO/ZUMA Wire)

Philip left behind a vast legacy of work with the royal family, but he also made an impact on other aspects too — including official policy and his family's name. Before he and Elizabeth got married, he was required to give up his titles and succession to the throne in Greece. He did so willingly and took on his mother's surname Mountbatten. Originally a German noble family, Prince Philip's grandparents changed their name from the original German version of "Battenberg" to an English translation when they adopted English nationality during World War I.

However, later on, he was unhappy that his children would not take his last name, so he protested this decision. Queen Elizabeth then issued a declaration in 1960 that "all the Queen's children, on occasions when they needed a surname, would have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor." This impact is still seen today, most notably with Prince Harry and Meghan's children — Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor and Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor — who went by their full names until King Charles III acceded the throne and bestowed them with royal titles.

Philip's other contributions to royal life included his unbounded duty to his beloved wife, Elizabeth, and his well-loved sense of humor. Philip's grandson Harry described him as a "legend of banter, and cheeky right 'til the end."

In 2017, at 95 and after 64 years of service, Philip retired from his royal duties and removed himself from the public eye.

After his retirement, his health deteriorated. In 2018, he underwent hip surgery ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding, and less than a year later, he was also in a car accident, which led him to relinquish his license voluntarily. 

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip (2008), (IMAGO/Galoppfoto)

Following Philip's death in 2021, Queen Elizabeth announced a period of mourning that lasted two weeks. Sadly, her 95th birthday on April 21, 2021, coincided with this time. It was the first birthday that she celebrated without her beloved husband in her seven-decade reign. 

In tribute to Philip, a memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey on March 29, 2022. The queen attended and was accompanied by her son Prince Andrew, while her family and other members of the royal family were also in attendance. The event was much larger in scale than Philip's funeral, which was only attended by around 30 people due to pandemic restrictions. The memorial had 1,800 people in attendance, including representatives from many of the Duke of Edinburgh's charities. 

The prince was well known for his many personal projects during his lifetime including The Duke of Edinburgh's Award (DofE) — a youth program originally designed to offer an alternative to the Boy Scouts. It was not necessary to officially join any association, and the participating children didn't need to wear a uniform. Nowadays, the program is present in 144 countries and offers youths of both genders chances at self-improvement by offering classes in sports, arts, physical or social skills, volunteer work, or expeditions, that is, spending time in nature. The DofE award offers different programs for youths aged 14 to 25.

Prince Philip was an extraordinary man who not only had many public achievements but also private ones. In a tender moment, the queen once said of her husband:

"He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years." 

After Elizabeth's passing on Sept. 8, 2022, Philip was interred and buried with his wife at the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the royal couple rests alongside King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.   

Prince Philip, Prince Charles (2016), (IMAGO/i Images)

People reported that on King Charles’ coronation day, he personally requested that his father be honored in a special tribute. 

"His Majesty The King has personally commissioned the new music and shaped and selected the musical programme for the Service," Buckingham Palace said in a statement. "At the request of His Majesty, in tribute to his late father His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Greek Orthodox music will also feature in the Service performed by the Byzantine Chant Ensemble.”

Notably, this addition to the program was a nod to his and his father’s Greek lineage. The late Prince Philip was also baptized in the Greek Orthodox church, as he converted to Anglicanism before marrying Queen Elizabeth II in 1947.

When Prince Philip passed away in 2021, then-Prince Charles offered some endearing words for his late father. 

"My dear Papa was a very special person who I think, above all else, would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him," Charles said at the time, thanking the outpouring of support and love from the public. "And from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that. It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.''

Speaking about his father and the service that he has offered to the crown, Charles had this to say: 

"I particularly wanted to say that my father, for I suppose the last 70 years, has given the most remarkable, devoted service to The Queen, to my family and to the country, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth," Charles said in a video message

Prince Charles (2021), (IMAGO/i Images)

In May 2024, Tatler reported that King Charles is continuing his father’s legacy as the patron of Gordonstoun, the school they both attended when they were young. Prince Philip was once the patron of the institution, which he said deeply influenced him as a pupil there. While Philip had the time of his life there, despite initially detesting it, he made sure that his eldest, Charles, would also be educated there. 

Charles attended the school from 1962 to 1967. Despite reportedly describing the school as “absolute hell,” the king took over from Prince Philip as the new patron of Gordonstoun. 

“Gordonstoun is immensely proud to be the first senior school to educate a King, and prouder still to note how the years King Charles spent here nurtured his love of, and commitment to, service, to the outdoors and to the arts,” the school’s website said

In a letter obtained by The Guardian, Charles chronicled his detestation of the school while he was a student in the '60s. 

“It’s such hell here especially at night. I don’t get any sleep practically at all nowadays … The people in my dormitory are foul. Goodness they are horrid, I don’t know how anyone could be so foul. They throw slippers all night long or hit me with pillows or rush across the room and hit me as hard as they can, then beetle back again as fast as they can, waking up everyone else in the dormitory at the same time. It’s such a HOLE this place!” he wrote. 

However, in an interview with The Observer in 1974, he proclaimed that he was “glad” that he “went to Gordonstoun.” 

“I am lucky in that I believe it taught me a great deal about myself and my own abilities and disabilities. It taught me to accept challenges and take the initiative,” Charles said in a 1975 speech.

Prince Philip (2008), (IMAGO/Avalon.Red)

What can you say about Prince Philip's legacy? Let us know, and pass this on to your family, friends and other royal family fans out there!

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