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09th Apr 2021

The Queen’s ‘strength and stay’: Remembering Prince Philip

The Queen's husband has passed away

Oli Dugmore

The Queen’s husband has passed away

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has died aged 99.

ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh take part in the carriage procession during Day Five of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2016 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)

Phillip married Princess Elizabeth five years before she became Queen, and was by her side for 73 years.

He was just months away from his 100th birthday in June.

A statement from Buckingham Palace read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”

Last month, Phillip left hospital after his longest ever stay during which he underwent surgery for a pre-existing heart condition.

The Greek prince, with Danish, German and Russian ancestry, played a very public role in the monarchy for seven decades.

Born in Greece and educated in France, Germany and the UK, Philip joined the British Royal Navy in 1939 at the age of 18.

[caption id="attachment_269403" align="alignnone" width="2048"]Prince Phillip and the Queen

At his wife’s coronation in 1953, he was the first to swear allegiance to her, declaring he would be her “liege man of life and limb”.

Although his military career – a great source of pride to him – officially ended in 1951, he retained a close connection with the armed forces throughout his life.

Among the many causes he championed, the welfare of young people was a top priority. In 1956, he founded the hugely successful Duke of Edinburgh Award, which now runs in 146 countries worldwide.

Over the years, the scheme has helped six million able-bodied and disabled 15 to 25-year-olds take part in a range of outdoor activities designed to build confidence, promote teamwork and a respect for nature.

“If you can get young people to succeed in any area of activity,” he told the BBC. “That sensation of success will spread over into a lot of others.”

[caption id="attachment_269406" align="alignnone" width="2048"]The royal family at Buckingham Palace The royal family at Buckingham Palace in 1972. Left to right: Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Edward and Prince Charles

As part of his efforts to modernise the monarchy, the duke became the first British royal to do a TV interview when he appeared on an episode of the BBC’s Panorama in 1961.

He will also be remembered for his work on conservation, although he was heavily criticised in 1961 for shooting a tiger on a trip to India. That same year, he was named the first UK president of the World Wildlife Fund. He later served as the organisation’s international president for 15 years from 1981 to 1996.

Alongside his many acts of public service, Philip was also known for his blunt sense of humour and plain-speaking, which landed him in hot water on several occasions. But he didn’t spare himself from scrutiny – in the run-up to his 90th birthday in 2011, he memorably joked of himself that “bits were starting to drop-off”.

In 2007, the Queen and Prince Phillip became the first couple in the royal family to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. In a moving speech, the Queen described her husband as her “strength and stay all these years”.

The Queen and Prince Phillip at the Royal Windsor Cup polo match in 2018

Phillip’s health had been slowly deteriorating for some time. He stood down from royal duties in autumn 2017,  joking at the time that he could no longer stand up as much. His decision was fully supported by the Queen.

At the time Buckingham Palace said he would “no longer play an active role by attending engagements”.

Throughout his life, he carried out more than 22,000 solo engagements and more than 630 solo overseas visits during his lifetime. Despite the frequency of such engagements, he was vocal with regards to his dislike of them.

Philip’s death has no impact on the line of succession to the monarchy, which still remains Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and then Prince Harry.

In the past the duke requested that no “fuss” be made over his funeral, stating that it isn’t necessary for his body to lie-in-state in Westminster Hall. It’s understood he will be buried in Frogmore Gardens, in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the plans for Philip’s funeral will have to be revised, with the public elements unable to take place in their original form.

The Queen is expected to enter an eight-day period of mourning following her husband’s death, during which she will not have to undertake any royal duties.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is survived by his wife Queen Elizabeth II, as well as his four children, eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.