To his grandsons, Prince Philip is “a legend”. For the Queen, he’s her true love and to the nation, he was the force behind the throne until his retirement in 2017.
The young peers now see Prince Philip as the top-hatted gentleman one pace behind the Queen at weddings.
But in his youth Prince Philip, always with a twinkle in his eye and a swagger in his step, had quite a fan base. As the Duke of Edinburgh turns 99 on 10 June, we celebrate the original royal poster boy. Well, If you believe that Prince William and Prince Harry are all-action heroes flying helicopters and riding motorcycles, then think again. Don’t you dare forget that they got it all from their Grandpa!!! Prince Philip was an excellent polo player until he hung up his mallet at the age of 50. After that, he took up carriage racing, a slightly safer but still technically demanding sport.
Another of his hobbies was flying. In his entire life as a pilot, he racked up 5,986 hours in 59 types of aircraft over 44 years in the cockpit. OMG!!! A lovely photo from 1953 shows him at the controls of a plane over Windsor Castle.
When he married Princess Elizabeth in 1947, the nation’s women swooned over the charming good looks of their Princess’s groom. Standing six feet tall with captivating blue eyes, exuding energy and vitality, he seemed like a Prince from central casting. He was a member of the Greek royal family, whose mother Princess Alice was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. This means that the golden-haired Adonis had blue-blooded heritage too.
Also read: Prince Philip: From a dashing young man in uniform to grandfather of the nation.
The couple first met as children but met again in 1939 when Prince Philip, a cadet at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, was to entertain the then-13-year-old princess with a game of croquet when she accompanied her father King George VI to the college. The death of King George abruptly ended his promising naval career, which he gave up to support his wife in her new role as the Queen. At her stupendous coronation, Prince Philip managed to lighten the solemn atmosphere, by pointing at her crown and joking: “Where did you get that hat from?”
After the tradition, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip toured almost the entire globe. Wherever they went, the public was particularly very much impressed by Philip’s charismatic presence and down-to-earth charm.
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Their marriage has been a particularly long and happy one in the British royal history. With their friends, they still feel free to behave like the besotted lovers they once were. They are also not afraid to show their abiding affection for one another. In spite of his royal title, life hasn’t perpetually been easy for Prince Philip. We saw that in The Crown, where Matt Smith played the young Prince with just the right mix of bravado and vulnerability. “The Duke was born a Prince of Greece. Philip’s grandfather was assassinated. His father put on trial.”His favourite sister and her family were killed in an aeroplane accident. Before he was ten, his parents separated. His mother ended up in an asylum and his father in the South of France. For years, he rarely saw them.” Gosh! That’s a lot.
“Prince Philip is a more sensitive person than you would appreciate,” said his cousin Patricia. “He had a tough childhood and his life constrained him into a hard exterior in order to survive.”
Personal family life
He is the rock on which the British royal family is built or in other words, he’s the backbone of the family. When his grandchildren were mourning the death of their mother Princess Diana, it was he who helped console them. During that time Prince Charles met with her sisters to oversee funeral arrangements. In a show of solidarity, he marched beside Prince William and Prince Harry as they gave their final respects to their beloved mother. It was not the first time he’s been doing this. He had done this on quite a few occasions for many family members that he had lost.
On his silver wedding anniversary with the Queen, Queen Elizabeth said in a speech: “If I am asked what I think about family life after 25 years of marriage, I can answer with equal simplicity and conviction, I am for it.” Twenty-five years later she would describe her husband as “quite simply my strength and stay”.
To their family and to most of the royal fans around the world, they are relationship goals. “I’d definitely love to know their secret,” Prince William once said. “I think it’s wonderful and I’ve constantly asked them both how they’ve maintained it so well. It no brainer that they are the most lovely couple.” Perhaps, as with all the best marriages, there probably is no secret, except that he still makes her feel like that giddy teenager that was so fascinated by him all those years ago.
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