Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, was born on the Greek island of Corfu on June 10, 1921. Also known today as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, Philip is the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. He has four older sisters: Cecilie, Sophie, Margarita and Theodora.
While not British, Philip does have family ties to England. Shortly after his birth, his maternal grandfather, Prince Louis of Hattenberg, died in London. Louis was a naturalized British citizen, who had renounced his German titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten during the First World War. Philip is also related to the British royal family through Queen Victoria.
On September 22, 1922, Philip’s uncle, King Constantine I of Greece, was forced to abdicate the throne. The military government arrested Prince Andrew and executed the commander of the army and five senior politicians. In December 1922, a revolutionary court banished Prince Andrew from Greece for life. Philip’s family went to France, where they settled in the Paris suburb of Saint-Cloud.
Philip was first educated at an American school in Paris. In 1928, he was sent to the United Kingdom to attend the Cheam School. In 1933, he relocated to a school in Germany, moving again to a school in Scotland following the rise of the Nazi party. Many of his family members remained in Germany, including his sisters, who married into German aristocratic circles.
After graduating in 1939, Philip attended the Royal Naval College, where he excelled. During World War II, he served in the British Navy, while two of his brothers-in-law fought on the opposing Axis side of the conflict.
In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother Elizabeth) toured the Royal Naval College. Philip escorted their two young daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, who were distant cousins of Philip’s through Queen Victoria. The 13-year-old Elizabeth developed a crush on Philip during the trip. Elizabeth and Philip and began to exchange letters, which would continue for the next seven years.
In the summer of 1946, Philip asked King George for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The king agreed, provided that any formal engagement was delayed until Elizabeth’s 21st birthday. To prepare for the announcement, Philip abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles, adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother’s family, and became a British subject.
The engagement of Philip and Elizabeth was announced to the public on July 10, 1947. They were married on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey, in a ceremony broadcast throughout the world by radio. On the morning of the wedding, Philip became the Duke of Edinburgh, the Earl of Merioneth and the Baron of Greenwich. He and Elizabeth had four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. Prince Charles is their oldest child, and the heir apparent to the throne.
King George died on February 6, 1952, leaving Elizabeth as his heir. Philip and Elizabeth heard the news of his death while traveling in Kenya. The accession of Elizabeth to the throne raised the question of the name of the royal house. On the advice of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Elizabeth proclaimed that the house would be known as the House of Windsor. The children of Philip and Elizabeth bear the last name Mountbatten-Windsor.
Philip is the queen’s consort, accompanying her in her official duties and appearances throughout the world. In addition, he participates in the work of many organizations, particularly favoring those focused on the environment, athletics and education. Philip played polo until 1971, and has also competed in carriage and boat racing. He also enjoys flying airplanes, oil painting and art collecting.
While largely avoiding personal scandal, Philip is known for his outspoken nature. In honor of his 90th birthday, in 2011, the London Daily Mirror published a list of “90 classic gaffes” that have been attributed to Philip over the years.
Within his family, Philip has often intervened in personal relationships, which has led to conflict. In 1981, he pressured his son Charles to either wed or leave Lady Diana Spencer . When their subsequent marriage proved difficult, Philip hosted an unsuccessful reconciliation meeting.
After Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997, Philip participated in her funeral, walking with his two grandsons in the funeral procession. Around the same time, Mohamed al-Fayed accused Philip of orchestrating the car crash, which had killed Mohamed’s son, Dodi Fayed, and Diana. An official inquest found no evidence of conspiracy, however, and the crash was ruled accidental.