15 Things You Didn’t Know About Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth, passed away at Windsor Castle earlier today. He was 99 years old, the longest-serving royal consort in British history.

A statement posted on the royal family’s website Friday morning said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.”

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

Prince Philip spent 65 years supporting the Queen. In his active years, he helped set a new course for the monarchy, championing Britain itself, as well as environmental causes, science and technology. His death came more than three-and-a-half years after he had formally stepped back from public life, a retreat that had been happening gradually for several years. Prior to that, Prince Philip led a full life that took him from Corfu to Buckingham Palace, and several other places on the way.

To say he lived a remarkable life would be an understatement.

As people around the world celebrate the life of Prince Philip, we take a look back at 15 things that you may not have know about The Duke of Edinburgh.

1. It’s difficult to imagine a time when he was anything but a British consort, but Prince Philip was not British at all. He was born on June 10, 1921 on the Greek Island of Corfu and was part of both the Greek and Danish royal families – the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. The man who would marry the Head of the English Church was christened, instead, as a Greek Orthodox.

2. Given the title Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark, Philip and his family were forced to flee when he was just 18 months old after a military revolt ousted his uncle from the throne. To ensure the family’s safe passage Philip’s uncle, King George V, ordered a Royal Navy ship to collect them, with the young Prince safely stowed away in a cot fashioned from an orange box.

3. Philip’s older sisters – who are now all deceased – were Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark, Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark, Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark and Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark.

4. Philip’s military career was truly central to his character. At 18, Philip joined the Royal Navy and graduated from the Britannia Royal Naval College as a top cadet. He saw active duty from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, and in 1945 at the end of World War II, he was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered.

4. He was also related to Kings of Prussia and Emperors of Russia. Philip renounced his Greek royal title in 1947 and became a naturalized British subject following his service in the Royal Navy.

5. Prince Philip and Her Majesty The Queen are both great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria. The Duke is a direct descendant of Princess Alice, the third child of Queen Victoria. The Queen is a direct descendant of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII).

6. The future Elizabeth II of England began to fall in love with Philip when she was only 13 and he was 18. They didn’t become engaged, however, until 1946, when he was 25. Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, made him promise to wait until her 21st birthday to tie the knot.

7. Philip had to be nothing but British before he joined the royal family. In 1947, months before his wedding, he abdicated all of his Greek and Danish titles and adopted his mother’s family name of “Mountbatten” to become a “naturalized” British subject.

8. Philip and Elizabeth were married on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey, which means that they were married for 73 years at the time of Philip’s death. (The marriage is the longest-lasting of any British ruler and their consort) There were around 2,000 guests in attendance and their wedding was was broadcast by BBC radio to an impressive 200 million listeners worldwide. On their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, the Queen touchingly said of Philip: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”

9. As a bridal “gift” to Elizabeth, Philip quit smoking on the morning of their wedding.

10. Together they had four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. The couple welcomed eight grandchildren into the world: Peter and Zara Phillips; Prince William and Prince Harry; Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie; and Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn. He also had 10 great-grandchildren.

11. Prince Philip was a trained pilot and learned to fly all types of aircraft throughout his lifetime. Named Marshal of the Royal Air Force (RAF) among his other service appointments, the Duke became an RAF pilot in 1953, as well as a helicopter pilot in 1956 and earned his private pilot’s license in 1959. He also became the first ever member of the royal family to fly out of Buckingham Palace Garden in a helicopter.

12. When Prince Philip became chair of the Coronation Commission in 1952 he was said to have played a pivotal role in ensuring that the Queen’s Coronation – which took place in 1953 – was televised, despite concerns expressed by the Queen Mother and Prime Minster Winston Churchill among others. The Prince was also the first member of the royal family to do a television interview in May 1961. He was interviewed by Richard Dimbleby on his involvement with Commonwealth Technical Training Week.

13. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and International Award were founded by the Duke to introduce young people to new experiences, including physical, skills-based and community challenges. Since 1956 more than four million young people from over 90 countries have taken part.

14. The Duke of Edinburgh’s has an official livery colour – dark green, known as ‘Edinburgh Green’.

15. Prince Philip remained one of the most active royals until his retirement. He fulfilled over 18,567 official engagements excluding those accompanying The Queen, an average of 371 each year.

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