By The Washington PostApr 10, 2021
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – husband of Queen Elizabeth II and father of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne – passed away Friday at 99.He had recently been hospitalized following an infection as he recovered from heart surgery.
Here’s what to know about his life and legacy.
Who was Prince Philip?
Prince Philip was married for more than seven decades to Elizabeth. He was born into the Greek royal family, with royal roots connecting him to the monarchies of Denmark, Germany, Russia and Britain.
He and Elizabeth shared the same great-great grandmother.
Video: REF:arda/The Washington Post
Philip’s initial years were tumultuous: Soon after his birth, his family fled Greece following death threats against his father, King Andrea. As a child he spent time at boarding schools in England and Germany, where his sisters settled, both marrying German princes and joining the Nazi party.
A former naval officer, Philip married Elizabeth in 1947. They first met in 1939, when she was 13 and he 18. At the time of their marriage, he was seen as dashing, charismatic and a breath of fresh air for Britain’s centuries-old monarchy. He was granted the title of Duke of Edinburgh.
When Elizabeth was coroneted in 1953, a kneeling Philip pledged to be her “liegeman,” or faithful servant, for life. He kept that promise, becoming the longest-serving royal consort in British history.
Philip was known as an active outdoorsman and promoted youth fitness. Biographers have described him as dedicated to the queen but having an alpha male persona. He expressed frustration with having to give up his military service after Elizabeth became queen.
His public appearance was also defined by repeated gaffes and racist, sexist and classist remarks over the decades. He had a contentious relationship with Britain’s tabloid press, which he frequently blamed for negative coverage.
In recent years, controversies over his legacy, such as rumors of infidelity, were revived by way of the hit Netflix show on Elizabeth’s reign, “The Crown.”
He and Elizabeth had four children – Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – and eight grandchildren.
What were some of Philip’s public controversies?
While Britain’s queen focused on duties at home, Philip was often sent to tour abroad, including on trips to the 16 countries that remain part of Britain’s commonwealth.
Though many of his public appearances were well received, over the years he also made a number of memorable, insensitive comments, often exhibiting little remorse afterward.
In 1986, for example, on a tour of Beijing, he called the city “ghastly” and told a British student he might end up “slitty-eyed.” He later said it was a misquoted joke, and that he had really said “slit-eyed.”
Other apparent attempts at jokes were also poorly received. He once remarked to a female solicitor (or lawyer), “I thought it was against the law these days for a woman to solicit.” In another case he told a blind women accompanied by a guide dog, “Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?”
Philip reportedly asked a driving instructor in Scotland, “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
In 2019, at 97, the prince surrendered his license after he crashed his SUV into a car carrying three others, among them a 9-month-old.
The queen was reportedly a fan of much of his humor – though also tested by it.
“You can take it from me, that the queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance,” he said in a speech once. Elizabeth reportedly replied with a slight smile.
What does his death mean for Britain’s royals?
For now, the health of Elizabeth remains of greatest consequence for Windsor Castle. When she dies, Charles, now 72, will take the reins.
Philip retired from royal duties in 2017. But the years since have been trying for Britain’s monarchs, particularly following the very public leaving of Charles’ grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who said it was in part due to the racism she experienced from the royal family and British press.
What will the funeral be like?
Philip “passed away peacefully” at Windsor Castle, according to a statement on the Buckingham Palace website. He and the queen had spent the pandemic at Windsor Castle, largely out of the public’s sight.
Plans have already been drawn up for the prince’s funeral but must be tailored to meet coronavirus-related restrictions. Britain just emerged from its third lockdown and large gatherings are banned. Ordinarily, large crowds would flock to London to attend the royal ceremony.
Instead, according to the College of Arms, which is involved with the funeral plans, Philip will not have a states funeral or lie in state at Westminster Palace.
“His Royal Highness’s body will lie at rest in Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral in St George’s Chapel. This is in line with custom and with His Royal Highness’s wishes,” the College of Arms said Friday in a statement.
“The funeral arrangements have been revised in view of the prevailing circumstances arising from the covid-19 pandemic and it is regretfully requested that members of the public do not attempt to attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral.”
The prince reportedly did not want a large funeral or some of the other formal ceremonies afforded to certain members of the royal family.
By The Washington PostApr 10, 2021