Prince Philip turned 98 this week which is definitely cause for celebration.
Two years ago, The Duke of Edinburgh officially resigned from royal duties due to ill health which means the public hasn’t been able to follow his life as closely as before. But after almost 72 years of being married to the most powerful woman in Britain, travelling to every corner of the world and meeting important and powerful figures every other day, it’s safe to say the hardworking duke deserves his time away from all the hustle and bustle of the royal world.
As the longest serving consort in British royal history, you would think there is little left secret about Prince Philip’s life, but just like anyone else, the beloved leader has a few little known facts still surrounding him.
After graduating from Britannia Royal Navy College, Dartmouth, as top cadet, Prince Philip spent the next six years of his life serving on the front line. Impressively, at just 21 years old he was appointed as first lieutenant and second in command of the destroyer, HMS Wallace, and was even awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour for his efforts. Few royals before or since Prince Philip have had such an active, combative role.
While the Duke clearly had a natural talent for leadership, he wouldn’t be able to truly experience his range until he met a young princess by the name of Elizabeth in 1934 at a wedding when he was 17 and she was just 13.
The pair married seven years after they first met with the reluctant approval of Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI. The royal family were not the most welcoming towards the Greek Prince with worries that the public wouldn’t react well to Prince Philip’s marriage to the future monarch. However, polls at the time saw 64% of the British people in favour of the courtship, according to Time magazine.
During his time participating in royal duties, Prince Philip was never one to take the back seat. As any natural-born leader would, he actively went out of his way to find his place in British society. In 1956, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was created for young people to build confidence in real world non-academic situations. The award still stands today and asks young people to partake in volunteering, physical recreation, demonstrate a skill and embark on an adventurous journey to be eligible.
He proved to be a strong advocate for the environment when he became the first UK president of the World Wildlife Fund and reigned as international president for 15 years. He was even known to use alternative energy sources for his official royal car.
Before this bold move into environmental awareness, no other royal showed much interest in the issue. Prince Philip started an important conversation that is still a primary topic in the royal family with Prince Charles now the current UK president of the World Wildlife Fund.
Known to champion change in the royal family, Prince Philip was the first royal to appear on a television series when he discussed Commonwealth Technical Training Week. The appearance proved be incredibly positive for public perception of the royals and even changed the way the family thought about modern media.
He was also known to be a creative man, who was quite interested in design during his early years of marriage. He designed a bracelet for Queen Elizabeth as her wedding gift made with stones from his own mother’s tiara.
Believe it or not, Prince Philip is even seen a god-like figure in one particular culture. A tribe on a South Pacific island prophesied that their spirit ancestors would be married to a powerful woman, and when they caught word of Prince Philip, they decided he must be the one. The Prince Philip Movement became a very real thing with tribe members even giving him the title of the “true Messiah”.
More than anything however, Prince Philip has always been known to be a strong husband, father and grandfather. Whether it’s protecting his grandchildren when they go through unthinkable loss or standing by his wife’s side with unwavering support for over seven decades – Prince Philip’s legacy has become something of legends. With no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Prince Philip’s impressive energy and work ethic are what make him the respected leader he was always born to be.