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Famed Husband of the queen of England, Prince Philip dies at 99

   April 10, 2021 6:18 AM
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by Sarah Olson - The Oregon Herald

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Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, dies Bbeloved husband of 73 years, the longest-serving consort in British history
 
We knew it was going to happen and we thought if he could just hang on for another few months he would be lovignly referred to as one of those centenarians who lived 100 years.

But it was not to be. Prince Philip is dead and now his wife, queen of England, is dead.

"His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle," the royal family announced. "Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss."

His life spanned nearly a century of European history, starting with his birth as a member of the Greek royal family and ending as Britain's longest serving consort during a turbulent reign in which the thousand-year-old monarchy was forced to reinvent itself for the 21st century.

He was known for his occasionally deeply offensive remarks — and for gamely fulfilling more than 20,000 royal engagements to boost British interests at home and abroad. He headed hundreds of charities, founded programs that helped British schoolchildren participate in challenging outdoor adventures, and played a prominent part in raising his four children, including his eldest son, Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.

When Elizabeth of York first met Prince Philip, no one seriously immagined she would one day be Queen of England. She was just seven years old and bridesmaid to her aunt, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, as she married the Duke of Kent at Westminster Abbey.

However, 12-year-old Philip was attending that ceremony as the bride's first cousin. The children did not sp;eak but the newspapers had already listed Prince Philip as a respectabe royal husband for the Princess Elizabeth, even as her third cousin.

However, when they met once again five years later, in 1939, much had changed. Elizabeth's uncle, Edward VIII, had abdicated three years earlier. Her father was now King and she was the heir to the throne. Philip was an 18-year-old naval cadet. And Europe was on the brink of cataclysmic conflict and change as World War II was about to begin.

"How high he can jump!" Elizabeth said to her governess, Marion Crawford, in July 1939 when she saw Philip leaping over tennis nets at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. Elizabeth had led a very sheltered life with her family, spending most of her time with her sister and governess. Touring the college with her parents and sister, she was dazzled by the star cadet, who would soon be off on active service. Elizabeth's fascination was obvious to all and was most gratifying to Philip's uncle, Dickie Mountbatten, who was hopeful of encouraging a marriage -- with himself as the power behind the throne.

After the royal party left Dartmouth, most of the cadets followed behind in their boats until the King told them to return. They did as they were told, except for Philip, who carried on rowing as Elizabeth watched him through binoculars.

Philip and his family had escaped Greece when he was a young child. The family moved to Paris. His mother was placed into an asylum and his father took lover. Philip was sent to boarding schools and made very well at Gordonstoun in Scotland before going to Dartmouth. With no parents present, he had been close to his sisters, but Cecile died in a plane crash when she was eight months pregnant. The others were married to German officers which placed Philip and his family on opposite sides in the war.

During the war, Philip wrote Elizabeth and spent Christmas with her family in 1943. Elizabeth was a young woman at just 17. Philip found her quite appealing, not only attractive and funny and smart. However, she was also cheerful and practical, unlike his own mother.

After the war, Philip came to court Elizabeth with serious intent and took her out to concerts and restaurants or dined in the nursery with Princess Margaret. The Palace was dubious about the match. The King and Queen hoped Elizabeth would see more of the world before marrying. As well, others around the king thought of Philip as no gentleman. A few thought he was ill tempered and fickle. He signed visitors books as of 'no fixed abode.' Many did not trust uuncle, Dickie Mountbatten. The government was worried about his background: as one courtier said "it was all bound up in a single word, 'German.'

Elizabeth was not to change her mind. She stood steadfast, determined and in love with Philip since 13 and the war had only intensified the romance. The King finally gave in and the engagement was announced on July 8, 1947, the wedding date set for November 20. Philip became a naturalized British subject, adopted the surname Mountbatten from his maternal grandparents and was created Duke of Edinburgh.

There was concern that a country deep in post-war recession might take a negative view of a pompous wedding. But Winston Churchill chose grandeur, calling it "a flash of colour on the hard road we have to travel." Royal guests came from far and wide to see the princess marry in a silk dress embroidered with 10,000 pearls. Among those firmly not invited were Philip's three sisters with their German husbands, and the Duke of Windsor, the former Edward VIII, and his wife, Wallis Simpson.

At the wedding at Westminster Abbey, Elizabeth gave her vows and promised to obey her husband, something that would be technically impossible when she was Queen.

But the problems were just beginning: Philip was set on to an active life and had quite negative feelings about the Admiralty desk job that he was given. Charles and Anne were born in 1948 and 1950 and the new family began at Clarence House, where Philip took charge of the renovations even as he was stationed at Malta. Elizabeth visited for months at a time. There, Elizabeth was free to be simply an officer's wife, away from the spotlight.

In January 1952, Elizabeth and Philip began a tour of Kenya at a getaway at 'Treetops,' a bungalow over a watering hole in the Aberdare National Park. On February 9, 1952, King George VI died in his sleep. After the news reached the everyone, Philip told his wife that her father had died and they returned to London. She knew right away she would be queen.

The death of the King George was a shock for Elizabeth and Philip, even though the King had been in poor health for years, even though he was a young man at 56. Elizabeth and Philip had expected many years more of relative freedom. Now Philip was husband to the Queen and everything changed.

The family moved from Clarence House to the less intimate Buckingham Palace. Philip had to give up his naval role. And Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary, set about the royal surname.

Philip had believed Elizabth's surname would be his own, Mountbatten But Winston Churchill and Queen Mary were determined: the name must remain as Windsor. Philip was devastated: "I am nothing but a bloody amoeba."

When Andrew was born in 1960 and Edward in 1964, the Queen had issued an order that any male descendants not titled Prince or Royal Highness were to be "Mountbatten-Windsor." It was a small victory.

Philip was saddened with his efforts to find a greater role for himself. There was resistance chairing Elizabeth's Coronation Commission and his efforts to create awards for service, The Duke of Edinburgh Awards, were met by one minister with shocking ridicule, saying that it sounded "like the Hitler Youth."

But with patience, and continual dedication to assisting and supporting the Queen in her duties, Prince Philip finally had respect and affection of government - and people alike.

Philip was interested in technology and the first royal to be interviewed on television, when he discussed youth apprenticeships on BBC Panorama with Richard Dimbleby in 1961. Philip was involved in "Royal Family," a documentary shown in 1969 which interested the nation when it showed the family at home -- including shots of Philip barbecuing sausages.

Philip was head to more than 800 organizations and, much like his grandsons, was particularly concerned with wildlife and the environment: he was president of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 to 1982.

The Duke was fond of the younger royals and will be most remembered by many for supporting his grandsons, William and Harry, as they walked through the streets of London behind the coffin of their dead mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, before her funeral in September 1997.

The monarchy's popularity hit perhaps the lowest point after the Diana died. However, by the time of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the British public's enthusiasm for the royal family was clear from the celebrations all over the country.

Through the ups and downs, the Duke was the Queen's only companion, and she being the longest married monarch. As well, Duke was the world's longest serving consort. At 99, he has lived for longer than any other descendant of Queen Victoria.

An active, intelligent man, it was not always easy to walk one step behind the Queen. But, as Prince William said, "he totally put his personal career aside to support her, and he never takes the limelight."

The Duke met the challenge with grace and dignity; he never left the Queen's side, assisting her. As the Queen said in her Diamond Jubilee speech in 2012, he has been her "constant strength and guide."