Prince Philips, the Duke of Edinburgh, died Thursday at the age of 99 years. His death also ended a 73-year marriage with Queen Elizabeth. Although by law, he was not supposed to be made king, that which he was supposed to be, the Prince Consort, was never officially given to him. Prince Philips was said to have been considered an outsider in the palace, but he warmed himself into the heart of the monarchy. At the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997, the queen said of him, “He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments. But he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”
Truly, the late prince played a key role in the making of the modern monarchy in Britain. Had he not left his career as a naval officer, he would have risen to the position of First Sea Lord, which would have qualified him to walk several feet behind his wife, the queen, in public. But he carved out a public role for himself in the palace. Though not officially recognized as the Prince Consort, he was said to be a most energetic member of the royal family, as well as being charming, engaging and witty. He once described himself as “a discredited Balkan prince of no particular merit or distinction”.
The late prince was credited with efforts at modernizing the monarchy apparently to save it from being consigned to the dustbin of history. He was at the head of the Way Ahead Group, comprising leading royal family members, which analysed and mulled criticism of the monarchy. The Duke of Edinburgh award, which he instituted in 1956; the National Playing Field Association and Outward Bound Trust represent the practical demonstration of the care for young people. Aside his war time achievements, the deceased who was also a trained pilot, was known for his interest in religion and conservation. He was made president of the World Wildlife Fund, UK in 1961. He was not known to have a good relationship with the press, members of which he had described as “bloody reptiles”. And that is because he felt he was unfairly treated by the press. He told a former member of parliament and biographer that “I have become a caricature. There we are. I’ve just got to accept it.”
Born on June 10, 1921, the late prince was the youngest and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece, the father who was an officer in the Greek army, and the mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg. In spite of that blue blood heritage, he had a troubled childhood. The family had to run away from Greece, with then one-year-old Philips, when Prince Andrew was charged with high treason following the defeat of the Greeks by Turks. His parents separated, with the father settling in Monte Carlo, where he became indebted from gambling. The mother became deaf and later depressed, ending in an asylum. But he is said to have a distant relationship, being third cousins, with the queen. Both of them fell in love at a very tender age; some say the queen took a liking for him when she was 13.
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