A naval officer and a gentlemen known for his mischievous sense of humour, Prince Philip has been at Queen Elizabeth's side for over 60 years. "He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my main strength and stay all these years," she said after celebrating her Golden Jubilee. "And I
owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know."
Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton
Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born on the island of Corfu on June 10, 1921, to Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice, the eldest daughter of Louis Alexander Mountbatten.
The blond toddler was just one-and-a-half when the family left Greece. And Philip spent the first years of his life in France, where he attended school in Paris before being sent to Cheam Preparatory School in Berkshire. From there he went on to Gordonstoun, followed by the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.
It was while he was training as a navy cadet that Philip caught the eye of the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth, who was a distant cousin. Although her parents, King George and Queen Elisabeth, urged her not to rush into a serious relationship, Elizabeth was smitten and kept a photo of the handsome young cadet by her bed.
In July 1947, by which time Philip had become a British subject and renounced his right to the Greek and Danish thrones, their engagement was announced. He also discarded his father's family name of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, in favour of his mother's surname - Mountbatten.
Though originally planned as a low-key affair, the royal wedding
- which took place in front of 2,500 guests in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947 - captured the imagination of a post-WWII public starved of gaiety and romance and turned into a national celebration.
Philip, now designated a royal highness, created a Knight of the Garter and awarded the title Duke of Edinburgh, spent his first six years of married life in Malta, where he was stationed with the Royal Navy. There he and Elizabeth enjoyed the beginnings of their life together as a normal couple.
Six days before their first wedding anniversary, the pair's first son and heir, Prince Charles
, was born a momentous occasion Philip marked by dashing to his wife's bedside with carnations and champagne. Their daughter Anne arrived in 1950, with sons Andrew and Edward following in 1960 and 1964 respectively.
Prior to his wife's accession to the throne on Feb 6, 1952, Philip continued to pursue his naval career, rising through the ranks to become second in command of the Fleet Destroyer HMS Whelp
. Following Elizabeth's coronation he assumed the role of full-time consort with all its incumbent duties.
Patron of some 800 organisations, the Duke of Edinburgh is especially interested in scientific and technological research, conservation and the environment, and the encouragement of sport. Also keen on the welfare of young people, he launched the highly successful Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme in 1956.
His most important role, however, has undoubtedly been as a loving and supportive husband. "Prince Philip is the only man in the world who treats the Queen
simply as another human being," once explained Lord Charteris, the monarch's former private secretary. "Strange as it may seem, I believe she values that."
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