Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died this morning at the age of 99, Buckingham Palace has announced. The palace released a statement that read: “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,” adding, “The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
Philip had returned to Windsor Castle on March 16, 2021 after spending a month in hospital. He had been feeling unwell in February and was treated for an infection at King Edward VII’s Hospital, then was transferred to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, where he underwent a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition.
Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on the island of Corfu on June 10, 1921, Philip and his family fled Greece to France in 1922 when the royals were banished following a coup. They lived in a house in Paris that was loaned to them by family, but when Philip was nine, his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and forcibly removed from her family to a sanitorium in Switzerland. By the time he was 10, Philip’s three sisters had married German princes and his father, who was having an affair, moved to the south of France. Left on his own, Philip moved to England to live with various Mountbatten relatives, who had ties to British and German royalty. He went to boarding school in Scotland and after graduation in 1939 he joined the British Royal Navy.
Although they’d both attended a royal wedding in 1934, Philip didn’t properly met Elizabeth, his distant cousin, until five years later, when he was 18 and she was 13. They married on November 20, 1947, when he was 26 and she was 21. He enjoyed his naval career, rising in the ranks until the death of Elizabeth’s father, King George VI in 1952. Philip had to give up his successful navy career in order to support the Queen.
Philip spent the next 65 years not only filling his royal duties, but working on a number of philanthropic efforts. In 1959 he founded the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program, which challenged young people to a series of outdoor activities to help them develop team building and fitness skills. He served as the president of the World Wildlife Fund from 1981 to 1996. From 1952 to 2017, when he retired from public life at the age of 91, he was reported to have made an average of 342 public appearances per year.
He was also considered a modernizer, bringing many changes to the way the royal family presented themselves to the public. As the chair of Elizabeth’s coronation commission, he convinced his wife to allow her coronation to be televised, in an effort to break down class barriers and make the royal family more accessible to the public. From then on, royal weddings were televised and in 1969, he arranged for a documentary about the royal family to be filmed for television, which showed the family at home, going about their daily lives.
Queen Elizabeth, 94, will now enter an official eight-day period of mourning to allow her to grieve in private, during which time she will not make any appearances or carry out any royal duties. The royal household will go into a 30-day period of mourning.
Following the funeral — the date has yet to be announced — the Queen will continue to mourn, but will carry on with state affairs behind closed doors. ~Alexandra Heilbron
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