Obituary: HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021

11 April 2021

Council News

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born in Corfu on 10 June 1921, the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.


When he was 18 months old, Prince Philip and his family left Greece following a period of political instability, during which his uncle, the King of Greece, Constantine I, was forced to abdicate.


A seafaring tradition


Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet (Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten) in 1939, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Prince Louis, who was Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord.


In July 1947, the engagement of Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten to Princess Elizabeth was announced. Four months later, on 20 November, they were married in Westminster Abbey.


Following a successful naval career, during which he saw active service in the Second World War, The Duke of Edinburgh began to focus on his work in support of The Queen following her Accession in 1952. 


Industry, environment and conservation


After his marriage, Prince Philip demonstrated a particular interest in science, industry and engineering. He visited research stations and laboratories, coalmines and factories, engineering works and industrial plants, with the aim of understanding, and contributing to the improvement of, British industrial life.


Environmental and conservation issues were also of great interest to Prince Philip. Concerned about pollution by exhaust fumes, he began using an electric car in the 1960s. Since visiting Antarctica and the South Atlantic in 1956-57, Prince Philip devoted himself to raising public awareness of the relationship of humanity with the environment.


A lasting legacy


Prince Philip created The Duke of Edinburgh Award in 1956 and continues to be involved, particularly in recognising the achievements of Award participants and the adults who support the programme.


Though probably best known for founding The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, His Royal Highness was also involved in the work of many more charities and organisations which reflect his wide-ranging interests in topics including conservation, sport, the military and engineering.


The Duke was a keen sportsman and enjoyed polo, carriage driving and sailing. He was also a qualified pilot and the first member of the Royal family ever to fly out of Buckingham Palace Garden in a helicopter.


In 2009 he became the longest serving British consort (companion to the Sovereign), a distinction previously held by Queen Charlotte, George III’s consort.

Obituary: HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021