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Prince Philip

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born on 10 June 1921. He is the husband and consort of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.

A member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, Philip was born into the Greek and Danish royal families. He was born in Greece, but his family was exiled from the country when he was an infant. After being educated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, aged 18. From July 1939, he began corresponding with the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth (his third cousin through Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and second cousin once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark), whom he had first met in 1934. During the Second World War he served with the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets.

After the war, Philip was granted permission by King George VI to marry Elizabeth. Before the official announcement of their engagement in July 1947, he abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles and became a naturalised British subject, adopting the surname Mountbatten from his maternal grandparents. He married Elizabeth on 20 November 1947. Just before the wedding, he was created Baron Greenwich, Earl of Merioneth and Duke of Edinburgh. Philip left active military service when Elizabeth became monarch in 1952, having reached the rank of commander, and was formally made a British prince in 1957.

Philip has four children with Elizabeth: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward. He has eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Through a British Order in Council issued in 1960, descendants of Philip and Elizabeth not bearing royal styles and titles can use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, which has also been used by some members of the royal family who do hold titles, such as Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Prince Edward.

A keen sports enthusiast, Philip helped develop the equestrian event of carriage driving. He is a patron, president or member of over 780 organizations and serves as chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme for people aged 14 to 24. He is the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch and the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family. Philip retired from his royal duties on 2 August 2017, at the age of 96, after having completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952.

In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. During the visit, the Queen and Earl Mountbatten asked Philip to escort the King’s two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, who were Philip’s third cousins through Queen Victoria, and second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark. Elizabeth fell in love with Philip and they began to exchange letters when she was thirteen. Eventually, in the summer of 1946, Philip asked the King for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The King granted his request, provided that any formal engagement be delayed until Elizabeth’s twenty-first birthday the following April. By March 1947, Philip had abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles, had adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother’s family, and had become a naturalized British subject. The engagement was announced to the public on 10 July 1947. Though Philip appeared “always to have regarded himself as an Anglican”, and he had attended Anglican services with his classmates and relations in England and throughout his Royal Navy days, he had been baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, wanted to “regularize” Philip’s position by officially receiving him into the Church of England, which he did in October 1947. The day preceding his wedding, King George VI bestowed the style of Royal Highness on Philip and, on the morning of the wedding, 20 November 1947, he was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in the County of London. Consequently, being already a Knight of the Garter, between 19 and 20 November 1947 he bore the unusual style His Royal Highness Sir Philip Mountbatten and is so described in the Letters Patent of 20 November 1947.

Philip and Elizabeth were married in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey, recorded and broadcast by BBC radio to 200 million people around the world. Their marriage is the longest of any British sovereign. However, in post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for any of the Duke of Edinburgh’s German relations to be invited to the wedding, including Philip’s three surviving sisters, all of whom had married German princes, some with Nazi connections. After their marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh took up residence at Clarence House. Their first two children were born: Prince Charles in 1948 and Princess Anne in 1950.

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