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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Happy 97th Birthday Prince Philip!

Happy 97th birthday Prince Philip!

My favorite British royal will celebrate his 97th birthday on June 10, 2018 around the time his wife, the Queen, celebrates her official birthday during the Ascot Party in Windsor. Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926 but royal tradition dictates (since King Edward VII time) that a British monarch will celebrate his/her official birthday on the second Saturday of June.

However, the real star of the royal family on June 10 will be the Duke of Edinburgh, who was born in 1921 on the Greek island of Corfu. He will turn 97 this year.  Such a prime age reach by any Prince Consort in British history. To date, Prince Philip is the longest serving Prince Consort in British history. He is also the oldest surviving great-great grandchild of Queen Victoria of England.

Despite his advance age, His Royal Highness before 2017 had been sprightly active, doing his duties to the Commonwealth, accompanying the Queen in her public engagement. And he still saw action taking part in the carriage show, which had been one of his favorite sports ever since he became a Prince consort. Having no sign of slowing down despite his age, Prince Philip continues to act as a patron to most organizations he supported but had to give up some to take care of his health. The Duke of Edinburgh Award which he helped establish in 1960s is now spearheaded by his son and successor, Prince Edward.

In the past years, Prince Philip had several health scares that sent worry to the public and the royal family, but he managed to overcome those and continue showing his best self in public appearances. However, last year, 2017, he finally retired from public service and stayed away from the public eye.


His last public appearance was on May 19, 2018 at the wedding of his grandson, Prince Harry, now the Duke of Sussex. He wore a morning suit with his hands clasped at his back and showed no signs of any discomfort despite having a broken hip a week earlier. He was also seen gleefully chatting with some members of the royal family and even managed to wave to the crowd.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during Harry's wedding 

Looking back at his life, Philip earned praises for his role, not just to his devotion to the Commonwealth, but also privately as a father.

He has long been considered as a more attentive parent than the Queen, closely guarding the growing up years of all their four children, including the marriages. He was particular with Prince Charles because he is the heir apparent. He made sure Charles would not end up with a commoner so all commoners who were linked to the Prince of Wales while still single were effectively "banished" by the Duke of Edinburgh.

So it was a common knowledge that he strongly opposed the extra marital affair of Charles with Camilla. He had arranged several meetings with his eldest son in the past, and even taking matters into his own hands just to prevent a divorce between Charles and Diana. He was known to have admonished his son to keep his marriage with Diana and abandon Camilla. But in the end, Charles didn't listen.

Elizabeth and Philip during the announcement of their engagement, 
July 1947

Tired and frustrated, Prince Philip was heard commenting about Prince Charles having a brain being sucked dry. When Charles married his mistress on a civil rite in 2005, he and the Queen didn't attend the wedding. It was only during the couple's church blessing at St. George Chapel that they attended, to show a family unity in public.

He belonged to the old seat of European royalty who abhors commoners joining the royal family, having heard commenting in the past about Princess Margaret's (sister of Queen Elizabeth II) commoner lovers as taking into to the royalty through a trade man's entrance. So it's not surprising if privately he detested Kate Middleton and Megan Markle. In public, both he and the Queen showed public acceptance to these women. We didn't know the real story behind the palace walls however.

Most of the time, the publicity machines of Buckingham Palace will print nice articles  and prevent any malicious write ups against any individuals joining the royal family so as not to harm the institution and to please the public who wants to see a more modern monarchy. But privately, the royals are different people, they still maintain an upper lip system. Commoners who joined the royal family are being virtually ignored on private gatherings. In 2011, during the Christmas celebration of the royal family in Sandringham, Kate Middleton was seen being ignored by most members of the royal family. She was left all alone by herself waving to the bystanders while the rest of the royal family members walked together and holding their hands.

The Duke of Edinburgh, a staunch defender of royal tradition and decorum, hasn't fallen any far from this category. But due to his age, he hasn't taken much action to prevent any of his grandchildren on the male line to end up with a commoner. However, privately we never know the real deal. Although they've made some adjustment in recent years, they're still known with their strict devotion to tradition. And Prince Philip is no exemption.

He is a true-blooded royal prince after all. 

Born Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark, Philip has no commoner blood, both her parents were royalty. His father, Prince Andrew, was the 7th child of King George I of Greece and Queen Olga, herself a Russian Grand duchess who ranked higher than a princess at the time of her birth. Philip's mother was Princess Alice of Battenberg whose mother, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England.

Philip grew up around royalty, in addition to Queen Victoria as his great-great grandmother, he is a great-great grandson of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia. Another great grandfather was King Christian IX of Denmark. Empress Alexandra, the wife of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, the last of the Romanovs, was his maternal great aunt and Queen Louise, the wife of King Adolf VI of Sweden was his mother's younger sister. All European crown heads are his relatives. He had spent his youth visiting royal palaces and castles to see his royal cousins most notably King Michael of Romania whose mother Queen Marie was also a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. His closest cousin was Queen Maria of Yugoslavia.

However, though Philip was born royal and sixth in line of succession to the Greek throne, he had an uneventful life when he was still a young boy. At the time of his birth, Greece was unstable and in constant war with neighboring countries. Philip's father, Prince Andrew, who had served as General in the Greek army during the reign of his brother, King Constantine I, was initially sentenced to die through a firing squad when Greece was defeated by Turkey. But King George V of England, who was Andrew's first cousin through King Christian IX of Denmark, dispatched a British warship to Greece to save his cousin. This was George V's bravest action as monarch for his blood relatives to heal the private wound he suffered when he failed to save the lives of his cousins, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and Empress Alexandra, who, together with their children, were massacred by the Bolsheviks during the Russian revolution.

Prince Andrew was spared from death. He and his family went to live in France for a time before moving back to England. But years later, the marriage of Prince Philip's parents fell apart. Prince Andrew went to Monaco and lived with his mistress. This prompted Princess Alice to suffer a nervous breakdown. She was sent to Switzerland for a treatment in a psychiatric facility. Around this time, all sisters of Prince Philip had already married German princes. So the young boy was sent to England to live with his grandmother, Princess Victoria. He grew up under the care of his maternal uncle, Lord Mountbatten.

Despite having no inheritance of his own, Philip lived a splendid, upper-class life having born into royalty. He was sent to schools attended by children of aristocrats. He also joined the Royal Navy and had served as lieutenant during World War II where he saw action under enemy's fire. As royals carried no surnames, Philip was simply known in the Royal Navy as Prince Philip of Greece.

Philip was blindingly handsome during his youth. His princely status added magic to his already attractive personality. No doubt women in his time were instantly besotted on him. He had strings of attracted girlfriends, both high society profiles and incredibly rich. But his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, felt he deserved a better place in the world, and not in the company of rich commoners.

Lord Mountbatten geared his nephew to a position where he should be worthy occupying. A future Prince consort. In 1940, royals were still not allowed to marry commoners. So Princess Elizabeth, who by then an heir presumptive to her father, King George VI, was expected to marry only within royalty and nobility. Many princes and sons of British aristocrats, including Earl Spencer, the father of Diana, Princess of Wales, were considered for a royal match. But Elizabeth fixed her eyes on her distant cousin, the dashing Prince Philip.

In 1942, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip started a correspondence. However, King George VI strongly opposed the prospect since Elizabeth was still young. The two needed to wait for several years to formalize their relationship. But he was allowed to see the princess whenever he could. During his break from the Royal Navy, Philip was allowed by the King, whom he privately called "uncle Bertie", to spend with the royal family in Windsor Castle and Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Prince Philip grew up in Kensington Palace where his grandparents, Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse, used to live. But he occasionally spent his Christmas and New Year with the royal family in Windsor Castle. Around this time, Lord Mountbatten started making an arrangement for his nephew to marry Elizabeth.

In July 1947, the official engagement was announced and Philip needed to relinquish his Greek royal title in order to marry the future Queen of England. The royal family feared that if he remained a Greek Prince, whose ancestors were German royals, the British public might not fully accept the union. It was still after the war and the British people hated everything about Germany so having a Greek Prince with a German royal blood joining the British royal family might elicit animosity from the public.

So Philip chose a more English identity that will remind the British public about  honor and commitment. Mountbatten. The name was adopted by his grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg, when he gave up his princely title in 1917 to become a full British subject.

Philip and Elizabeth were married on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey attended by most of their royal relatives around Europe. On the eve of their wedding, he was made Duke of Edinburgh by King George VI. And was made Prince of the United Kingdom on June 2, 1953, following the coronation of his wife. He has  four children with the Queen. And as of 2018, has eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. His successor of his noble titles is his youngest son, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex.

He could have reached the status of being the First Sea Lord of England in the Royal Navy, just like his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, and grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg, but his role as Prince Consort only restricted him to perform ceremonial  duties concerning the British monarchy. Although his role hasn't fully defined by the constitution other than the Queen's husband, Prince Philip assumed most of the responsibilities of the Queen in public when she's not around. He also sat as a member of the Council with his sons and Prince William.

Prince Philip has recently undergone a surgery on his hip. And at 97, already looked tired and frail, but hasn't given up most of his daily routines like taking a walk, attending public engagement, attending ceremonies and horse shows. It might take years before he would completely keep away from the public. But for now it's nice to see him around accompanying the Queen. Perhaps, we would never see or hear again such a consort who is a full-blooded royal. To date, Prince Philip is the last European royal to marry into the British royal family, and the only consort to a reigning European crown head who is royal by birth.

Let's wish him a happy birthday! May God grant him a safe life and excellent health condition as he celebrates another year. Long live  Prince Philip!!!


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authorI am a blogger from the Philippines. My interest centers on travel and food, global affairs, European royals and self-help. I've a great passion in traveling and photography. I am also a book author with five published books in Amazon.
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