Timeline: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, royally referred to as the Duke of Edinburgh, is the husband of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The distinguished British Royal, whose marriage has lasted for over seven decades, has been through it all, from the reconstruction period that followed WWII to their Annus horribilis (a period that saw three of his children’s marriages rocked by divorce). Through thick and thin, the Queen on several occasions has been full of appreciation and praise for the support Prince Philip gives to her.
This timeline focuses on the major moments in the life of Prince Philip, Britain’s longest-reigning royal consort and the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
1921: At a place called Corfu in Greece, the future Duke of Edinburgh is born on June 10. Philip is the fifth child of parents – Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.
1922: Philip and his family are forced to go into exile in Paris after his coup d’état takes place in the country.
1928: The young Prince Philip crosses the English Channel and goes to stay with the Mountbatten, the family’s English relatives. In England, Prince Philip enrolls at a school in Surrey.
1933: Prince Philip, 12, is again on the move. This time around his parents send him to Germany, where he attends Schule Schloss Salem in the south of the country. The school is run by Kurt Hahn. After the Nazi party comes into power, Kurt Hahn makes his way to Scotland, where he founded Gordonstoun School. Prince Philip follows his tutor and attends the school.
Did you know that it was Kurt Hahn who inspired Prince Philip to establish the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award?
1934: Prince Philip meets Princess Elizabeth (8 at the time) for the first time. The two were invited to the wedding ceremony of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, Prince Philip’s cousin. Marina was tying the knot with Prince George, Elizabeth’s uncle.
1937: Prince Philip loses his sister Cecilie and her family in a horrible plane crash. Cecilie was 26 at the time of her death.
1939: The world is about to be plunged into World War II, and Prince Philip readies himself by enroling as a cadet at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.,
While at Dartmouth, Philip, 18, had the pleasure of meeting up with Elizabeth, 13, again. From there onward, their friendship grew in leaps. Philip and Elizabeth kept in touch frequently through letters.
1940: Philip graduates with flying colors in mid-winter of 1940. He and his fellow officers are dispatched to the Indian Ocean. He serves on the battleship HMS Ramillies. This marks Philip’s first involvement in WWII.
1942: He attains the rank of full lieutenant in His Majesty’s Royal Navy (Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, was king by then).
Philip is stationed on the HMS Wallace.
1943: The relationship between Prince Philip several royal family members blossoms. The young prince takes a particular interest in Princess Elizabeth, the 18-year-old daughter of King George VI.
1945: World War II comes to an end as Europe tries to pick itself up and get things back to normal. Britain, along with the Soviets and the Americans, lead the way in rebuilding the world.
1946: Prince Philip meets up with King George VI and asks for permission to marry Princess Elizabeth.
1947: On July 9, Philip and Elizabeth announce their intentions to get married. Back then it was quite rare for royals to get married by choice. Hence, the public received the news with delight, a sign that the royal family was evolving.
With the relationship between Philip and Elizabeth blossoming, George VI deems it appropriate to give the title of His Royal Highness to his soon-to-be son in-law.
The wedding between Prince Philip and Crown Princess Elizabeth takes place in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. More than 2,000 guests graced the occasion, which was covered by a number of radio stations both in the UK and abroad.
Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth made Clarence House their new home.
The chosen destination of the royal couple’s honeymoon is at Malta. Philip purposely chose that place because it was the place he served in the Navy.
In addition to his HRH title, Philip is also bestowed the title of Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich, of Greenwich in the County of London.
1948: Britain’s favorite royal couple – Philip and Elizabeth – introduce the newest addition to their family – Prince Charles – to the world. The first child of Philip and Elizabeth was born on November 14, 1948 at Buckingham Palace.
1950: Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth (heir to the British throne) have been married for about 5 years. On August 15, 1950, the couple welcome their second child – Princess Anne.
1952: Prince Philip goes on an official tour with Princess Elizabeth. Philip and his wife visit a number of Commonwealth nations. Their trip was purposely designed to introduce Princess Elizabeth to various British colonies across the world.
While on their trip, the couple received news of the death Princess Elizabeth’s father George VI. The king died aged 56.
1953: Princess Elizabeth inherits the throne from her father. She is crowned Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. Philip’s son, Prince Charles, 3, becomes Heir to the Throne.
Although Philip receives no constitutional position, a royal warrant makes him second to his wife Queen Elizabeth II on all royal issues.
1956: Three years into Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, Prince Philip takes a solo royal tour of Commonwealth. His mode of transportation is the royal yacht Britannia.
1957: Just as the small West African nation of Ghana was declaring itself independent from Britain, Prince Philip status was being elevated. His wife bestows on him the title of Prince of the United Kingdom. His official title is: HRM Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
1960: Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth have their third child – Prince Andrew.
1961: After years of charitable events, civil causes and campaigns for nature preservation, Prince Philip’s effort is recognized. The Duke of Edinburgh becomes the president of the World Wide Fund for Nature. But his appointment did go without controversy as the British tabloid run stories of the duke’s shooting a tiger in India.
1964: Philip and Elizabeth welcome their fourth and final child – Prince Edward.
1981: Prince Philip and the whole world celebrates the union between Prince Charles and twenty-year-old Diana Frances Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral. Philip’s daughter-in-law, a kindergarten teacher, becomes Princess of Wales (usually called Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales).
1882: Philip’s first son and heir apparent to the British throne Prince Charles gives birth to his first child, Prince William. Philip’s first grandson was born on June 21, 1982 St Mary’s Hospital, London, England.
1984: Philip welcomes the birth of his second grand son, Prince Henry (later the Duke of Sussex). Henry was born on September 15, 1984 at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London.
1986: Prince Philip comes under immense criticism following an unpalatable private comment about “slitty eyes” he made while on as state visit to China.
1995: The royal family is joined by WWII veterans and other dignitaries to commemorate the anniversary of VJ Day. Prince Philip was in attendance as usual.
1996: The British Royal Family is rocked by the divorce of Lady Diana and Prince Charles. Philip and his wife Queen Elizabeth II do their best to pick up the pieces. His son’s divorce was just one of the tragic events that befell his family following the Queen’s Annus horribilis (Horrible Year of 1992).
1997: Prince Philip’s decade of tragic events continues as his former daughter in law dies in a tragic car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997. The car crash claimed the lives of two others – Dodi Fayed (Diana’s companion) and driver Henri Paul.
Still reeling from the shock of his former daughter-in-law’s death, Prince Philip attends Diana’s funeral on September 6, 1997. The funeral, which was watched by more than 32 million people in Britain alone, took place in Westminster Abbey, London.
2002: Prince Philip makes another unpleasant comment by inquiring from a group of Murugan Temple priests if they are affiliated to Tamil guerrillas in Sri Lanka.
2002: The royal family releases correspondence between Prince Philip and his deceased former daughter-in-law Princess Diana. The letters were intended to dispel rumors that Princess Diana and Prince Philip had a very frosty relationship while the former was alive.
2009: Prince Philip has supported Queen Elizabeth II for a staggering 62 years (i.e. since their marriage in 1947). And for 50 plus years, Philip has served as her consort. This feat of his made him the longest-serving royal consort in the history of Britain.
2010: Prince Philip’s soon-to-be status as a nonagenarian makes him think twice about his involvement with a plethora of organizations both home and abroad. Prince Philip, 89, decides to take it easy on his various royal duties. The Duke calls it quits on more than 20 charity and educational organizations in both the UK and across the world.
2011: Philip’s first grandson, Prince William, ties the knot with Catherine Middleton. Philip’s grandson’s royal wedding was held on April 29 in Westminster Abbey, London.
2011: On June 10, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, celebrates a huge personal milestone – his 90th birthday. The royal family goes through a brief scare as the 90-year-old duke suffers pains in the chest. Luckily, he pulls through.
2017: Philip, 96, retires from all official royal duties. It was estimated that the Queen’s consort made about 22,000 of those royal assignments since 1952.
2018: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married at a ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018. Prince Philip graces the occasion with his wife, Queen Elizabeth II.
2019: Philip’s family gets a new member in the person of Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. Archie, Philip’s great-grandson, is the first child of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a former Hollywood actress.
2020: Prince Philip celebrates his 99th birthday. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the celebration was very much on the low key.
Other Interesting Facts about Prince Philip
Philip and Elizabeth are in fact distant cousins. They both share the same great-great-grandmother in the person of Queen Victoria. When it comes to royal families in most European countries, this phenomenon was quite common back then. As a matter of fact Queen Victoria was sometimes referred to as the Great Mother of Europe due to the number of issues she had that went on to marry into different royal families in Europe.