The Husband of Queen Elizabeth II Dies At Age 99

By Ben Meyer '22

On the morning of April 9th, Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband of 73 years, passed away at age 99. 

A statement from Buckingham Palace on Friday, April 9th said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.” 

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was many things, but one thing he was not was boring. Even though for the last couple of years he has rarely been seen in public, his life’s story is remarkable. Prince Philip was the longest-serving consort in British history and was only months away from his 100th birthday in June. 

In 1921, he was born on the island of Corfu in Greece. Little did he know, he would later become a key figure in the development of the modern monarchy in Britain. Officially, he was never given the prince title, but he lived a life full of royal duties. He moved away from his naval career to carve himself a unique public role. For many decades, he was considered the most energetic member of the royal family, along with being one of the busiest. However, he would often get little public recognition for his respectable attempts to show his great side. The press would normally focus on covering his errors. Prince Philip could be rude at times, but he was also charming, engaging, and courteous. He displayed genuine curiosity on his official visits.

Politically, he excluded himself from major areas of the Queen’s professional life. He did not have any constitutional role, except as a private counselor for the Queen. The Queen would actually communicate matters concerning the royal household to Prince Philip. He would be part of big decisions that included family and royal accessories. 

He wanted to set up a modern monarch that would not end up as a museum piece, so he helped ran a group called “the Way Ahead Group.” The group was comprised of leading royal family members, along with their advisers. They wanted to analyze and avoid criticism of the current institution. He viewed that the monarchy could not be everything for people, but he understood the importance of a national identity compared to a governing leader.

He had interests in other fields as well. He was interested in religions, conservations, industries, science, and nature. He was fond of helping young people. He would inspire organizations such as the National Playing Fields Association and the Outward Bound Trust. Not only that, but he was athletic. He loved to play polo, along with other sports. He was also a qualified pilot and an accomplished sailor. He had wartime experience in WWII.

Unfortunately, he also had a complex childhood. Philip was the youngest child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece. Prince Andrew was an officer in the Greek Army and was married to Princess Alice of Battenberg. But this marriage would not last long. The family would be separated. Philip’s father would create big gambling debts, while his mother would start becoming deaf, depressed, and later being admitted to an asylum. Overall, he had a rough childhood. Eventually, he would cross paths with Queen Elizabeth II. They were third cousins.

He was an ambitious, yet complex man. He had to face many obstacles from an early age. He had no money or title. But he kept moving forward. He overcame these obstacles and set himself to create a role that would be of great importance to Britain.

The pandemic will undoubtedly have a major impact on the plans for Prince Philip, the Queen’s “strength and stay,” funeral. With the restrictions from COVID-19, traditional public funerals will not take place.