Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was pronounced dead earlier this month on April 9th in an official statement released by Buckingham Palace. The prince was 99 years old at the time of his death and had been hospitalized in recent years due to heart problems, though the cause of his death is not yet publicized. Following the news of his passing, the royal family and much of the British public have been mourning the loss and paying their respects. In memory of Prince Philip, people have placed flowers along the front gate of Buckingham Palace, which were later relocated to the nearby Marlborough House Gardens. Prince Philip’s son Prince Charles made an appearance before the press shortly after his father’s passing where he shared that his father “was a much loved and appreciated figure.”
Who was Prince Philip?
Prince Philip was the son of Greek and Danish royalty and was born in Corfu, Greece, one of the seven Ionian Islands surrounding Greece’s West Coast. Soon after his birth, there was a military coup in Greece and his family fled to France where he spent the majority of his youth. At the age of 17, he was acquainted with Queen Elizabeth II and the two were married in 1947. Prince Philip was officially Queen Elizabeth II’s consort, a title for one married to the monarch. As consort, he exercised considerable power, but he was unable to be crowned king since he was the son of Greek and Danish royalty. The year after their marriage, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II welcomed their first child Prince Charles into the world and later, three more, including Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.
Prince Philip’s devotion to Queen Elizabeth II was made clear to everyone during her coronation in 1953, during which he notably pledged, “I, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks. So help me God.” Since then, Prince Philip has spent his life serving the Queen and assisting her with her duties, living up to his words.
During his time as the Queen’s consort, Prince Philip visited hundreds of countries, gave thousands of speeches, and partook in tens of thousands of royal commitments. In addition to being heavily involved with royal activities, Prince Philip played an active role in the community. He founded the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 1956 in hopes of motivating youth in England and other countries to pursue community service and fitness, served as the first president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-UK, and assumed the role of grand president of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League to support veterans like himself. Prince Philip’s presence in the world of service was acknowledged by Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK, who told the press, “he shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people and… fostered their hopes and encouraged their ambitions.” Johnson also remarked that Prince Philip “was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable.”
Though Prince Philip was an esteemed figure, many have pointed out offensive comments he’s made in the past. He once asked a Black member of the House of Lords, John Taylor, “And what exotic part of the world do you come from?” Remarks such as these were not uncommon from the duke and were brought to the attention of many following the news of his death. Such insensitive comments made by the duke will surely find their way into articles, but reports focused on his legacy have and will continue to overshadow the negatives.
What’s to Come?
The royal family and the British public feel a void in their lives as the duke’s strong presence is no longer felt. While mourning, many realize what an integral role he played in the Queen’s life and this left many to ponder how the Queen will cope with the loss. Beyond the UK, people ranging from world leaders to celebrities have taken the time to offer their condolences and honor the duke’s achievements. Also mourning are the members of the tribes of Vanuatu (a small island situated to the east of Australia) who performed rituals to commemorate Prince Philip—someone they view as a “god-like” figure.
On a separate note, many are keeping a close eye on what will unfold in the coming weeks after it was announced that Harry, Duke of Sussex, is set to join the royal family for Prince Philip’s funeral. In the eyes of optimists, Harry’s visit could reduce tensions within the royal family, but realists argue otherwise. Throughout his life, Prince Philip played a significant role in matters involving the royal family, such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure, and the family will undoubtedly sense the duke’s loss as change is set to occur.
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles Visit Memorial to Prince Philip
Consort to Her Majesty The Queen
Prince Philip leaves hospital after heart surgery
Timeline: Prince Philip’s first 90 years
Britain debates Prince Philip’s legacy: Servant of queen and country? Or symbol of White male privilege?
Transcript of Boris Johnson’s Tribute to Prince Philip
Prince Philip: The Vanuatu tribes mourning the death of their ‘god’
Gyles Brandreth: ‘Prince Philip would have been touched by public reaction’
World reacts to death of Prince Philip