Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died at age 99, the royal family announced Friday.
Philip and the queen were married for more than 70 years, making him the longest-serving spouse of a reigning British monarch. He was the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family.
Philip was born on the Greek island of Corfu on June 10, 1921, to Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.
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
His family belonged to the royal Danish House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, which had been installed on the Greek throne at the end of the 19th century. They were exiled from Greece after a revolutionary, anti-monarchy court banished Philip’s father for life. The family fled on a British Royal Navy warship in which the young prince reportedly slept in a crib that had been fashioned from an old orange box.
Philip was later sent to Great Britain, where he attended the Cheam Preparatory and Gordonstoun boarding schools.
The Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, where the prince enrolled at age 17, was the first place he spent significant time with his future wife, a distant cousin who was then 13 years old. (The two had the same great-great-grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.) Then-Princess Elizabeth and her family visited the college in 1939 and, shortly after, she and Philip began exchanging letters.
During a visit to Balmoral Castle in Scotland in 1946, they decided to get married. The king agreed to the marriage but asked that they keep the engagement secret until after Elizabeth’s 21st birthday.
Before he married Elizabeth in 1947, Philip abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles and became a British citizen. He began using the name Mountbatten, an Anglicized version of his mother’s maiden name, Battenberg. He was given several royal titles including Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. He wasn’t formally made a prince of the United Kingdom until 1957.
The couple married at Westminster Abbey in November 1947. The ceremony was broadcast on the radio to 200 million people.
Philip resumed his naval career, which he had temporarily suspended after getting married, in 1949 when he was appointed first lieutenant and second-in-command of a destroyer based in Malta. After moving back and forth between London and Malta, Philip returned to the U.K. in 1951, taking an open-ended leave from the Navy upon news that the king had grown ill.
“I thought I was going to have a career in the Navy but it became obvious there was no hope. … There was no choice,” Philip later said, according to Vanity Fair. “That’s life. I accepted it. I tried to make the best of it.”
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