100 Facts about the Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle just before his 100th Birthday. As a Greek Prince who became the longest serving Consort to the longest-reigning Monarch in British History, he lived a fascinating life, which we will talk about in ’99 Facts about the Duke of Edinburgh’, which replaces a scheduled article about the Queen ahead of her 95th Birthday, and was originally intended to be a ‘100 facts’ article for his 100th Birthday in June (to mark his 100th Birthday, the article has been updated)!

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1 | The Duke of Edinburgh was born at the villa ‘Mon Repos’, the summer retreat of the Greek Royal Family, on the island of Corfu, on in June 1921.

2 | Born Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark, his parents were Prince Andrew of Greece, the fourth son of King George I of Greece and Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia, and Princess Alice of Battenberg, daughter of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse

3 | The Prince was the only brother of four sisters, who became: Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-LangenburgPrincess Theodora, Margravine of BadenPrincess Cecilie, Grand Duchess of Hesse, and Princess Sophie of Greece and Hanover.

4 | His first cousins included King George II of Greece, King Alexander of Greece, and King Paul of Greece, Queen Helen of Romania, the Duchess of Aosta, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, Princess Eugenie of Greece, Prince Michael of Greece. Learn More about the Duke’s Royal Relatives.

5 | Among Prince Phillip’s many paternal uncles was King Constantine I of Greece, while his aunts included Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna and Princess Marie Bonaparte. His maternal aunt and uncles were the Marquess of Milford Haven, Queen Louise of Sweden, and Earl Mountbatten of Burma

6 |  The Duke of Edinburgh and Queen were 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, King Edward VII.

7 | The Queen and Duke were also descend through King Christian IX of Denmark, the Queen from his daughter, Queen Alexandra, while the Prince was a descendant of his son, King George I of Greece.

8 | After his father narrowly escaped being executed during the Greco-Turkish War, the Family were evacuated on the British Naval Vessel HMS Calypso, with Prince Philip carried to safety in a cot made from an orange box.

9 | Prince Philip spent the first few years of his life living with his family in France, but after Princess Alice’s breakdown and the marriages of his sisters, the family drifted apart and he had no fixed abode.

10 | He was first educated at The Elms, an American school in Paris run by Donald MacJannet, who described Prince Philip as a “know it all smarty person, but always remarkably polite.”

11 | In 1928, he attended Cheam School in the United Kingdom to, living with his maternal grandmother, Princess Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven, at Kensington Palace

12 | By 1933, Prince Philip was sent to Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, which had the “advantage of saving school fees” because it was owned by the family of his brother-in-law, Berthold, Margrave of Baden.

13 | Later, Schule Schloss Salem Jewish founder, Kurt Hahn, fled persecution and founded Gordonstoun School in Scotland, which Prince Philip thoroughly enjoyed. 

14 | Prince Philip of Greece first met his future wife when she then attended the wedding of his cousin, Princess Marina, to Elizabeth’s uncle Prince George, Duke of Kent in 1934. Elizabeth was 8 and Philip was 13.

15 | After leaving Gordonstoun in early 1939, Prince Philip completed a term as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, then repatriated to Greece, living with his mother in Athens for a month, for the first time in over a decade.

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16 | Princess Elizabeth began exchanging letters with Prince Philip when she was 13, after meeting again during a 1939 visit to the Royal Naval College.

16 | The Duke was on active service in the Royal Navy throughout the Second World War. The Duke’s first naval appointment, aged 18, was as a midshipman to HMS RAMILLIES, which escorted the first contingents of the Allied Expeditionary Force from Australia to Egypt.

17 | The Duke of Edinburgh was mentioned in dispatches for his service in the Second World War. His Royal Highness joined HMS VALIANT in the Mediterranean Fleet and was involved in engagements including, on 21st March 1941, the battle of Matapan (in Greek waters) against the Italian fleet. For his work in control of the searchlights Prince Philip was mentioned in despatches. He was later awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.

18 | During World War II, Prince Philip also attended the Pantomimes at Windsor Castle put on by Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret for the enjoyment of her family and employees of the Royal Household during the Christmas season, apparently ‘rolling in the aisles at the appalling jokes.’

19 | Towards the end of the Second World War, Prince Philip served in the destroyer HMS WHELP in the Pacific, and was present in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender on 2nd September 1945.

20 | After the war, things began to get serious and the public caught on to the romance at the Wedding of his cousin, Countess Mountbatten, to Baron Brabourne in 1946.

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21 | Princess Elizabeth went on her first foreign tour in 1947, when she accompanied her parents and sister on a tour of South Africa, which was intended to make her think over their relationship/

22 | Prince Phillip’s engagement to Princess Elizabeth was formally announced soon after she returned from the South Africa tour, in July 1947.

23 |  Princess Elizabeth’s choice of suitor wasn’t universally welcomed, Philip was criticized for being foreign, not having money and having sisters married to Nazis.

25 | Also 1947, the Prince renounced his Greek Royal Titles and became a naturalised British subject following his service in the Royal Navy, though as a descendent of Electress Sophia of Hannover, that was not necessary but only found out a couple of years later. 

26 | Phillip took the surname of his maternal family, Mountbatten, and was styled ‘Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten’ from February to November 1947, and after being granted the Order of the Garter, he was styled ‘His Royal Highness Sir Philip Mountbatten’ for two days until the wedding.

27 | The title Duke of Edinburgh, as well as the Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich were conferred by King George VI on the wedding day 1947

28 | The Princess and the Duke were married in Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947, in front of many of his royal relatives from around Europe, though his sisters weren’t allowed to attend due to their Nazi connections.

29 | The new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh spent their honeymoon at Broadlands, Hampshire, the home of Lord Mountbatten, and at Birkhall, Balmoral.

30 | As a married couple, Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth took up residence at Clarence House, where the Prince of Wales now lives. As his first home, the Duke set on an extensive renovation, which was only completed shortly before they had to move to Buckingham Palace.

31 | While Clarence House undertook renovations, the couple rented a house near Windsor Castle from 1947 to 1949.

32 | On 14 November 1948, the couple first child was born at Buckingham Palace and was named Prince Charles Philip Arthur George. The Duke apparently played tennis while his wife was giving birth. 

33 | Because Philip was posted in Malta by the Navy, Elizabeth and Philip lived intermittently there for a few months at a time in 1950 and 1951.

34 | Their second child and only daughter, Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise, was born at Clarence House in 1950.

35 | After their wedding, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh paid official visits to France, Greece, the Vatican, and in autumn 1951, they toured Canada.

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36 | Following their return from the Canadian tour, and because of the King’s poor health, Elizabeth and Philip were appointed to the Privy Council on 4 November 1951.

37 | After July 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh took up no more active naval appointments owing to Princess Elizabeth’s increased Royal responsibilities. He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 15th January 1953. 

38 | In 1952, King George VI’s illness forced him to abandon a proposed visit to Australia and New Zealand, and was replaced by Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, took his place. The couple started the tour in Kenya, where on 6 February 1952, the King died.

39 | Prince Philip was the person who informed Elizabeth of her father’s demise and her subsequent accession to the throne. Following the news, the tour was abandoned, and the couple flew back to Britain as Queen and Consort. They were greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other officials at the airport before returning to Clarence House, where the Royal Standard was flown for the first time in her reign.

40 | While it was customary for a wife to take her husband’s family name, the Queen issued a Royal Proclamation on 9 April 1952 to ensure that the Royal House of the UK continued to be known as the House of Windsor, though their descendants now use the surname of  Mountbatten-Windsor

41 | The Queen’s Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. As husband of the Sovereign, The Duke of Edinburgh was not crowned or anointed at the Coronation ceremony in 1953. His sisters were allowed to attend and were all present. 

42 | Later that year, the Queen and Duke embarked on 6-month Commonwealth visited Bermuda, Jamaica, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, Uganda, Malta and Gibraltar. So exhausted by the constant waving, the Duke used to wake up with a cold arm from waving in his sleep. 

43 | Although he was a Privy Counsellor, the Duke has no other constitutional role. Until 1999, Prince Philip was a member of the House of Lords but never spoke there owing to his proximity to The Queen, who remains politically neutral.

44 | 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.

45 | The Queen gave birth to their third child, Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward, at Buckingham Palace on 19 February 1960, named after his father, Prince Andrew of Greece. She was the first reigning monarch to give birth since 1857 when Queen Victoria had her last child.

46 | The Duke learned to fly all types of aircraft. He gained his RAF wings in 1953, his helicopter wings in 1956 and his private pilot’s licence in 1959. Prince Philip achieved 5,986 hours in 59 types of aircraft. The Duke’s final flight was on 11th August 1997 from Carlisle to Islay, following which he stopped flying.

47 | The Duke of Edinburgh’s official livery colour was dark green, known as ‘Edinburgh Green’. It has been used for staff liveries – the Duke of Edinburgh’s page at the Coronation wore dark green and silver – and private cars.

48 | The Queen created her husband a Prince of the United Kingdom in 1957.

49 | Naval history was a keen interest. His Royal Highness was appointed a Trustee of the National Maritime Museum in 1948. He was instrumental in saving the tea clipper Cutty Sark – now a museum ship stationed in Greenwich – and in establishing the Maritime Trust.

50 | Care of the environment was one of The Duke of Edinburgh’s greatest interests. The Duke was the first President of the World Wildlife Fund-UK from its foundation in 1961 to 1982, was International President of WWF (now World Wide Fund for Nature) from 1981 to 1996. He visited WWF projects in over 40 countries on five continents.

51 | The Queen and Duke’s last child, Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis, was born on 10 March 1964.

52 | Science and technology were a major interest. Prince Philip was Patron of the Industrial Society since 1952 and visited research stations, laboratories, and every kind of workplace throughout Britain. In 1976 he initiated the Fellowship of Engineering, now the Royal Academy of Engineering, which promotes engineering excellence and education.

53 | The Duke of Edinburgh was a prolific writer on environmental, technological, equestrian and animal subjects. His books include: Selected Speeches 1948-1955 (1957); Birds from Britannia (1962); Down to Earth (1988); and Survival or Extinction: A Christian Attitude to the Environment (1989). 

54 | The Duke was the first member of the Royal Family to be interviewed on television, in May 1961. The Duke also presented television programmes, including in May 1957 a programme on the BBC about his four and a half month tour of the Commonwealth.

55 | Prince Philip served as President of the National Federation of Housing Associations in 1975-1980, and chaired the Inquiry into British Housing, which published two reports in 1985 and 1991. The Duke of Edinburgh was chairman of the Westminster Abbey Restoration Committee from 1973 to 1997, responsible for the cleaning of the Abbey’s exterior and the renovation of the building’s interior.

56 | In 1958 The Duke of Edinburgh commissioned celebrated British composer Benjamin Britten to produce a setting for the Jubilate and Te Deum for the St. George’s Chapel Choir, Windsor. The modern settings were a new departure for the previously traditional choral music used at the Chapel.

57 | The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, the London showcase for exhibitions of art from the Royal Collection, was built at the suggestion of The Duke of Edinburgh. The gallery was converted from the bomb-damaged Private Chapel and opened to the public in July 1962.

58 | Prince Philip was a Freeman of the cities of Acapulco; Belfast; Bridgetown, Barbados; Cardiff; Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; Edinburgh; Glasgow; Guadalajara; London; Los Angeles; Melbourne; Nairobi.

59 | From 1952 to 1999 The Duke of Edinburgh served as President of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee on the design of coins, seals and medals.

60 | The Duke of Edinburgh had his own personal Standard. The first three quarters show Prince Philip’s lineage: Denmark (lions and hearts); Greece (white cross on blue); Mountbatten (2 black ‘pales’ on white). The fourth quarter contains the arms of the City of Edinburgh and represents his title.

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61 | Together with Prince Hassan of Jordan and Sir Evelyn Rothschild, The Duke of Edinburgh  instituted the Inter-Faith Dialogue between the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths. This group continues to meet regularly to discuss matters of common interest.

62 | As President of International Equestrian Federation from 1964 to 1986 Prince Philip was involved in defining the rules and regulations for several equestrian sports. Under the guidance of The Duke, International Rules were created for Carriage Driving, Long Distance Riding and Vaulting, and Veterinary Committee and Veterinary Regulations were introduced.

63 | His British service appointments were Field Marshal of the Army and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. He held 42 Service appointments in total, including Commonwealth Services, and he has presented 49 Colours.

64 | The Duke of Edinburgh has served as Chancellor of the Universities of Cambridge (1976-), Edinburgh (1952-), Salford (1967-91) and Wales (1948-76). He is also a Life Governor of King’s College, London.

65 | Some 75 prizes and medals are associated with The Duke of Edinburgh. The most unusual is the Silver Wink award. Students at the University of Cambridge challenged Prince Philip to a tiddlywinks match in 1958. The Duke of Edinburgh appointed the Goons as his Royal champions. The Silver Wink has been awarded by the Duke since 1961 to the winner of the University Tiddlywinks Championships.

66 | The Duke travelled widely without The Queen during his naval and public working lives. He has made two round-the-world voyages in the Royal Yacht Britannia, visiting some of the remotest parts of the Commonwealth as The Queen’s representative, travelling some 72,430 miles by Britannia. The four-month voyage of 1956-57 included visits to the remote South Atlantic locations of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, Ascension Island and St. Helena.

67 | The Duke has a strong interest in the welfare of ex-Service men and women. Since 1974, he has been Grand President of the British Commonwealth Ex-Services League, which provides practical welfare assistance for ex-servicemen and women of the Crown. The Duke has nominated the charity for donations made by members of the public to mark the Jubilee.

68 | The Queen and Prince Philip have eight grandchildren: Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall (b. 1977 and 1981); Prince William and Prince Harry (b. 1982 and 1984); Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie (b. 1988 and 1990); and Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn (b.2003 and 2007).

69 | The Duke used an LPG-powered taxi cab around London to attend engagements, often unrecognised.

70 | From 1952, the Duke carried out 22,191 solo engagements and have 5496 speeches, until his retirement in 2017.

71 | Prince Philip has accompanied the Queen on all of her official overseas visits, and also carried out 637 official visits himself. 

72 | At the time of his birth, Greece was still using the Julian calendar, so he was actually born on May 28, not June 10, that he celebrated.

73 | In 1993,  Prince Phillip’s DNA was used to help identify the remains of the Romanov Family who were murdered in 1918. The Tsarina was his mother’s aunt.  Sympathizing with their situation by saying: “it was hard to marry into a monarchy. I know that myself. Imagine the nightmare of marrying into the Russian court”

74 | After Princess Diana’s death in 1997,  the Duke persuaded her sons Prince William and Prince Harry to walk behind her coffin, saying, ‘If you don’t walk, I think you’ll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me?’

75 | The islanders of Tanna, one of the islands in Vanuatu in the South West Pacific, worshiped the Duke of Edinburgh as a god. Vanuatu was formerly the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides, which Prince Philip visited in 1971.

76 | The Duke loved to cook, and his barbecues at Balmoral Castle were legendary among his family and friends. The Countess of Wessex said “A grouse isn’t worth eating unless it’s come off his barbecue”

77 | The Duke was the first British national since his uncle Earl Mountbatten of Burma to be entitled to wear the breast stars of four orders of chivalry in the United Kingdom

78 | During his recent hospitalization, the Duke was only visited by the Prince of Wales, due to the strict lockdown rules.

79 | Though it has been said that the Dukedom of Edinburgh should pass to Prince Edward after Prince Phillip’s death, it has now been inherited by the Prince of Wales as his eldest male heir, and will not be given to Prince Edward until the Prince succeeds to the Throne and the title merges with the Crown, allowing it to be granted again. 

80 | In 2019, the Duke was involved in a serious car crash at Sandringham, but escaped unharmed. He soon gave up his driver’s license.

81 | The Duke of Edinburgh played a key role in the restoration of Windsor Castle after the great fire of 1992. He served as Chairman of the general Restoration Committee, one of the two committees supervising the rebuilding of the damaged rooms.

85 | The Duke of Edinburgh was Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. At Trooping the Colour he accompanied The Queen on horseback, and later in a carriage, and wore the uniform of Colonel of the Grenadier Guards.

86 | To celebrate their 73rd Wedding Anniversary, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh received an anniversary card made by Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, alongside other cards and letters sent by well-wishers to Windsor Castle. 

88 | From mid February to mid-March this year, the Duke of Edinburgh was hospitalised and had a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition before returning to Windsor Castle. 

89 | After his retirement in 2017, the Duke resided mainly at Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate, apart from the Queen. 

90 | Prince Philip was Patron or President of 785 organisations. The longest-standing association was with the Federation of London Youth Clubs, of which he became Patron in 1947. 

91 | In 2017 the Queen was the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary, making their marriage the longest in British Royal History

92 | The Queen and Duke had 10 great-grandchildren, with an 11th expected soon. Two great-grandsons, born in recent months, had Phillip included in their middle names. 

93 | After the Duke’s death, his cousin Prince Michael of Greece became the only surviving grandchild of King George I and Queen Olga of Greece

94 | During the Lockdown, the Queen and Duke lived together in ‘HMS Bubble’ at Windsor Castle, and also went to Balmoral for their annual holiday.

95 | Prince Phillip was the longest-lived descendant of Queen Victoria and King Christian IX of Denmark

96 | The Queen and Duke got their COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year.

97 | The last time he appeared in ‘public’ for an official engagement was at Windsor Castle in July 2020 to hand the British Army Rifles Regiment to his daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cornwall

98 | The Duke of Edinburgh was the oldest and longest serving British Consort, being married to the Queen for 26,804 days, the longest in British Royal History

99 | In a rare tribute, the Queen said “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, his whole family, & and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know”

100 | The Duke of Edinburgh had his Funeral in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, and was laid to rest in the Royal Vault.


One thought on “100 Facts about the Duke of Edinburgh

  1. It took me a long time to attempt to find Prince Philip with all four chivalry orders on his uniform. Only to discover, the last one (Royal Victorian) wasn’t awarded until 2017. I couldn’t find a picture of him with all four. What a shame!

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