As is becoming a Royal Central custom now, every week (where possible) we select one member of the current or past British Royal Family and promote 10 questions and answers on them that we think most people would like to know the answers to. Basically like a Frequently Asked Questions session.
This week we have chosen none other than the Queen’s 91-year-old husband, Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh. In this article, we hope to give you an insight into the weird and wonderful life of The Queen’s consort, enjoy.
Question 1: What’s The Duke Of Edinburgh’s background and circumstance?
Prince Philip was born on the Greek island of Corfu on 10th June 1921 to HRH Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and HRH Princess Alice of Battenberg. On 22 September 1922, Philip’s uncle, the reigning King Constantine I of Greece, was forced to abdicate, and Prince Andrew, along with others, was arrested by the military government. Prince Andrew’s life was believed to be in danger, and Princess Alice was under surveillance. In December, a revolutionary court banished Prince Andrew from Greece for life. The British naval vessel HMS Calypso evacuated Prince Andrew’s family, with Prince Philip being carried to safety in a cot made from a fruit box. Philip’s family went to France, where they settled in the Paris suburb of Saint-Cloud in a house lent to them by his aunt, Princess George of Greece.
Question 2: Was he a Prince before he married Elizabeth?
Yes. He was Prince Philip Of Greece and Denmark. When he married the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947, he had to renounce his Greek and Danish titles in order to take up British titles. He was made Duke Of Edinburgh in 1947, before his wedding day and given the style of ‘His Royal Highness’. In 1957, The Queen made him a British Prince, making him HRH Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh. He has never officially been given the title of ‘Prince Consort’ like Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert was however.
Question 3: What’s Prince Philip’s surname?
When Prince Philip needed a surname to join the Royal Navy (most titled members of Royal Families don’t usually carry surnames), he chose the name ‘Mountbatten’ and English equivalent of his actual name. He belonged to the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, really that should have been used as his surname but for obvious reasons, a variation on his mother’s maiden name was used instead, producing: Mountbatten!
After Queen Elizabeth II’s accession, Prince Philip (thanks to his uncle, Louis Mountbatten) assumed that his surname would not only become the reigning house name of Great Britain, replacing Windsor, but also that it would be used as his children’s surnames. In 1960, The Queen issued a special proclamation specifically stating that the house name would remain as Windsor. Prince Philip was said to have responded by saying: “I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.”
Question 4: Is The Queen related to Prince Philip?
Yes. The Queen and Prince Philip are 3rd cousins through their common ancestor, Queen Victoria and second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark. It was quite common for royal couples to be related, this is because it was believed that Royals should only marry between themselves and because thanks to Queen Victoria, many of Europe’s royal families are very closely related, this is called Royal Intermarriage.
Question 5: Why is Prince Philip not King Philip?
This is probably one of our most common questions. The simple answer is, it’s not how British Titles work. Whilst women take the female form of their husbands’ titles, men don’t take the male form of their wives’ titles. Because Elizabeth was the person in line to the throne and Philip married her, he was never destined to be King. Having said that, Prince Philip could still become King… if the first 495 people in line to the throne were to die!
Question 6: What are some of Prince Philip’s hobbies?
The Duke Of Edinburgh enjoys painting landscapes in oils. A friend persuaded him to take it up but it was not until he met Edward Seago, when he was staying at Sandringham as a friend of the late King and Queen, that he began to appreciate its complexities. He invited Seago to join him in HMY Britannia for the return journey from the Olympic Games in Melbourne, when he managed to pick up a lot of good advice. As he withdraws from ‘executive responsibilities’ he is finding more time for this hobby.
Philip played polo until 1971, when he started to compete in carriage driving, a sport which he helped expand; the early rule book was drafted under his supervision.
Question 7: What will happen when Prince Philip dies?
The Duke of Edinburgh has drawn up secret plans for a private funeral at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and has declined the offer of a State service. Senior Buckingham Palace sources have disclosed that despite The Queen’s wish to give her husband of 60 years a State funeral at Westminster Abbey, Prince Philip has opted for a more intimate ‘Royal’ affair that emphasises his service in the Armed Forces. Prince Philip will be interred in the mausoleum of Frogmore House at the private Home Park in Windsor Castle, where Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert are buried. Prince Philip’s funeral plans are codenamed Forth Bridge.
Question 8: I hear Prince Philip somewhat ‘puts his foot’ in it sometimes.
Yes, it has been known for His Royal Highness to, er… ‘speak his mind’, sometimes what he says is quite controversial. For the benefit of humour and education, here are the top 5 ‘Prince Philip quotes’
1: To President of Nigeria, who was in national dress, 2003: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”
2: To then Paraguay dictator General Stroessner: “It’s a pleasure to be in a country that isn’t ruled by its people.”
3: To Scottish driving instructor, 1995: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
4: A VIP at a local airport asked Prince Philip: “What was your flight like, Your Royal Highness? Philip: “Have you ever flown in a plane?” VIP: “Oh yes sir, many times.” “Well,” said Philip, “it was just like that.”
5: “I’d like to go to Russia very much – although the bastards murdered half my family.” 1967.
Question 9: What did Prince Philip do during the divorce of Prince Charles and Diana?
By 1992, the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales had broken down. The Queen and Philip hosted a meeting between Charles and Diana, trying to get them reconciled but without success. Philip wrote to Diana, expressing his disappointment at both Charles’s and her extra-marital affairs, and asking her to examine both his and her behaviour from the other’s point of view. The Duke was direct, and Diana was sensitive. She found the letters hard to take, but she nevertheless appreciated that he was acting with good intent.
Question 10: What happened to Prince Philip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten?
Lord Mountbatten was Prince Philip’s uncle, he was very close to Prince Philip and even let him and Elizabeth stay in his home, Broadlands in Hampshire for his and Elizabeth’s honeymoon in 1947. Mountbatten usually holidayed at his summer home in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, a small seaside village between Bundoran, County Donegal, and Sligo town on the northwest coast of Ireland. The village was only 12 miles away from the border with Northern Ireland and near an area known to be used as a cross-border refuge by IRA members.
Despite security advice and warnings from the Garda Síochána (Irish Police), on 27 August 1979 Mountbatten went lobster-potting and tuna fishing in a thirty-foot wooden boat, the Shadow V, which had been moored in the harbour at Mullaghmore. IRA member Thomas McMahon had slipped onto the unguarded boat that night and attached a radio-controlled fifty-pound bomb. When Mountbatten was aboard en route to Donegal Bay, just a few hundred yards from the shore, the bomb was detonated. Who activated the radio-controlled bomb is not known: McMahon had been arrested earlier at a Garda checkpoint between Longford and Granard.