To celebrate the 93rd birthday of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, here is a list of 93 facts about the Duke.
1. The Duke of Edinburgh was born as Prince Philip of Greece at his parents’ house ‘Mon Repos’ on the island of Corfu, on 10 June 1921. The house had been the country residence of the British High Commissioner for the Ionian Islands. The family was forced to leave Corfu when the Greek Royal Family was exiled on 3 December 1922, when he was just 18 months old.
2. The Duke is the youngest child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. His paternal grandfather had been Prince William of Denmark until he was elected to be King George I of Greece. King George’s sister, Alexandra, married Edward, Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, and his sister, Marie, married Emperor Alexander III Russia.
3. The Duke renounced his Greek royal title in 1947 and became a naturalised British subject following his service in the Royal Navy.
4. In 2009, The Duke became the longest serving consort in British history when he outlived Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III.
5. The Duke is the oldest living great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria.
6. Prince Philip has never officially been made Prince Consort like his predecessor Prince Albert was to Queen Victoria. Instead, he holds a Dukedom and other titles out of his own preference not to be Prince Consort.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.
7. Prince Philip also happens to be in the line of succession in his own right… 556th in line to the throne due to him descending from British Royalty himself.
8. The Duke had four older sisters; Margarita (1905-1981) who married Count Gotfried of Hohenlohe-Langenburg; Theodora (1906-1969) who married Prince Berthold of Baden; Cecile (1911-1937) who married the Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt; both she and her husband and two sons were killed in an air crash on their way to London; and Sophie (1914-2001) who was married, first to Prince Christopher of Hesse-Cassel and, after he was killed during the war, to Prince Georg-Wilhelm of Hanover. He has a total of 19 nephews and nieces.
9. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are both great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria. The Queen is a direct descendent of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII). The Duke is descended from Queen Victoria’s second daughter, Princess Alice, the third child of Queen Victoria. Queen Alexandra and King George I Greece were brother and sister which means that The Duke’s father, Prince Andrew, was a first cousin of George V. Both The Duke’s grandmother (Victoria in 1863) and mother (Alice in 1885) were born in the same room in Windsor Castle. The Duke was once taken by his grandmother to have tea with her aunt Beatrice (Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter) in her apartments in Kensington Palace.
10. The Duke started school in Paris and then went to Cheam School, a boarding preparatory school in Surrey. In 1933 he spent a year at Salem School in south Germany. While there he joined a friend in building a double-deck ‘hang glider’ (before that term was known). Fortunately they failed to complete it before The Duke left to join Gordonstoun School in Morayshire, Scotland. This was soon after it was founded by Kurt Hahn, the former co-founder and Headmaster of Salem. He eventually became ‘Guardian’ (Head Boy), and captained the school at cricket and hockey.
11. The Duke left Gordonstoun in 1939, after the Civil Service Examination, to join the Royal Navy as a ‘Special Entry’ Cadet at Britannia Royal Naval College. After a year at Dartmouth he was awarded the King’s Dirk as best all-round Cadet of his Term, and the Eardley-Howard-Crockett Prize (a £2 book token) for the Best Cadet.
12. Thanks to his experience sailing boats on the Moray Firth, The Duke was only one of two Cadets in his term who were considered competent to cox service Cutters and Whalers under sail.
13. The Duke joined the battleship HMS Ramillies in Colombo in 1940 as an 18 year old Midshipman. Ramillies sailed for Australia to furnish the escort for the first Australian Expeditionary Force on its way to Egypt.
14. In 1940, Greece was still neutral and as a Greek subject, it was considered that The Duke should not be employed in an area of active conflict. He therefore spent the rest of that year serving in the County Class cruisers, HMS Kent and HMS Shropshire in the Indian Ocean, with a short spell ashore in Colombo.
15. While serving ashore in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), The Duke was sent to Trincomalee, on the east coast, to assist a naval team surveying the harbour. He bought a second-hand Standard 8 car in Colombo and drove himself to Trincomalee and back. He was back in Trincomalee in HMS Whelp in 1945.
16. As soon as Italy invaded Greece in 1941, The Duke was appointed to the battleship HMS VALIANT in the Mediterranean Fleet based in Alexandria. He saw action off the Libyan coast and in Malta, and in March took part in the night Battle of Matapan against the Italian Navy. The Duke was mentioned in Despatches by the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, for his operation of the searchlights during the action. Prince Philip was later awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.
17. In mid-1941, The Duke returned to England for ‘Sub-Lieutenants Courses’. This was followed by his appointment as a Watch-keeper to the Destroyer Escort HMS Wallace, part of the Rosyth Escort Force escorting convoys between Methil, through ‘E-Boat Alley’ to Sheerness and back. Later in 1942 he was promoted to Lieutenant, and soon after, at the age of 21, he was appointed as First Lieutenant and second in command. In July 1943, Wallace was sent to the Mediterranean as part of the naval cover for the Canadian beachhead for the Allied landings on Sicily.
18. In 1944, The Duke was appointed First Lieutenant of the Fleet Destroyer, HMS Whelp of the 25th Destroyer Flotilla, which was then under construction in the Hawthorn Leslie yard in Newcastle. Whelp was not ready in time for the D-Day landings, but soon after the invasion she sailed for the Far East to join, first, the East Indies Station, which was then engaged in the Burma campaign, and then on to Australia to join the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) in the war against Japan. The BPF took part in a number of operations in conjunction with the US Navy during 1945 including the landings on Iwo Jima.
19. Later that year, Whelp and her sister ship, Wager, were detailed to escort the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Bruce Fraser, in his Flagship HMS Duke of York, for a conference with the US Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Chester Nimitz, in Guam. It was while they were in Guam that the first nuclear weapon was dropped on Japan. When it became obvious that the Japanese were about to surrender, the two Commanders-in-Chief, Nimitz in the battleship USS Missouri with four destroyers, and Fraser in HMS Duke of York with Whelp and Wager, sailed for Japan and later arrived in Tokyo Bay.
20. On 2nd September 1945, the Japanese signed the surrender onboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Later that year, after witnessing the formal Japanese surrender of Hong Kong, The Duke returned home in Whelp and she was paid-off in Portsmouth in February 1946.
21. The Duke was appointed to HMS Glendower as an instructor for new entry naval ratings in what had been intended to be a Butlin’s Holiday Camp at Pwllheli in north Wales.
22. The Duke later served as an instructor at the Petty Officers’ School in Corsham between September, 1946 and December, 1947. It was during this appointment that he became engaged to Princess Elizabeth. The wedding had to wait until November, 1947 when The King and Queen and their two daughters returned from the Royal Tour of South Africa. The King gave him the titles of Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. Both he and the Princess were admitted as Knights of the Garter in 1947.
23. The Duke of Edinburgh is the second holder of the title in recent history. The previous holder had been his great-great uncle, Prince Alfred, the fourth child and second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He was born on 6th August 1844 and created Duke of Edinburgh in 1866. He had a distinguished naval career, retiring as Admiral of the Fleet in 1893. He succeeded his father as Duke of Coburg and died there in 1900.
24. After their honeymoon at Balmoral, The Duke returned to the Navy and was appointed to attend the Naval Staff College at Greenwich. This was followed in July 1950 by promotion to Lieutenant Commander and appointment as First Lieutenant of HMS Chequers, the Leader of the First Destroyer Flotilla stationed in Malta.
25. After a year in that appointment, The Duke was appointed to command the anti-submarine Frigate HMS Magpie. During his two years with the Mediterranean Fleet, Princess Elizabeth was able to join him while his ship was in Malta.
26. While his ship was being re-fitted, The Duke was able to join Princess Elizabeth for an extended coast to coast tour of Canada in 1951. He was promoted to Commander, but then had to give up his command in order to accompany the Princess for a tour of Australia, which The King was forced to abandon due to ill health. The couple had got as far as Kenya when the news arrived that The King had died and that the Princess had succeeded as Queen Elizabeth II.
27. In January 1953, after 14 years’ service, The Duke gave up his active career in the Navy, and was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet, and appointed Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
28. The Duke learned to fly with the RAF at White Waltham and gained his RAF Wings in 1953, his helicopter wings with the Royal Navy in 1956, and his Private Pilot’s Licence in 1959. He gave up flying in August 1997 after accumulating 5,986 hours as a pilot in 59 types of aircraft in 44 years. He was Grand Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators from 1952 until 2002.
29. The Duke was appointed Chairman of the Coronation Commission, while the Duke of Norfolk, as Earl Marshal, had the executive responsibility for organising the event.
30. In 1952, The Duke was appointed President of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee for the Design of Coins, Seals and Medals. This involved him in the process of selecting the coins of the realm for the new reign. He remained President until he retired in 1999.
31. From the moment The Queen succeeded, The Duke was in demand by scores of voluntary and charitable organisations. Indeed the demand had already started the moment he was married to Princess Elizabeth. His first connection was in 1947 when he accepted to become President of the London Federation of Boys Clubs – now London Youth. Soon afterwards he became President of the National Playing Fields Association – now Fields in Trust – and played a series of ‘high profile’ cricket matches to raise money for the NFPA. He was also President of the Central Council of Physical Recreation. When the Sports Council was set up in 1972, it was intended that the CCPR would be wound up. The Duke felt strongly that amateur sport needed a representative body and managed to keep the CCPR in being.
32. In the early 1950s The Duke was persuaded by his old Headmaster, Kurt Hahn, to initiate an award scheme for young people. He chaired the committee which developed the idea for what became the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. It now operates all over the world and it is estimated that, since 1956, around 6 million young people in 120 countries have gained Awards.
In 1948 he was invited to become a Member of the Royal Yacht Squadron, and he then became its Admiral in 1953. A few years later, when the Commodore died, he was invited to become Commodore as well, while succession and governance issues were sorted out. He then reverted to Admiral. Many yacht clubs (36), which had enjoyed the patronage of the late King, invited him to take on that role. Through his interest in sailing, The Duke got to know the yacht designer and small boat sailor Uffa Fox, and persuaded him to collaborate with Fairey Marine to try ‘foils’ under a sailing boat. Uffa produced a 24 ft Gunter-rigged dinghy, which was very fast, but the experiment was not a success. The Duke went on the sail ‘Fairey Fox’ (without foils) in several races during Cowes Weeks. The Duke also got to know Sir Christopher Cockerell, who invited him to try his hand at ‘piloting’ his experimental hovercraft.
33. From 1956 to 1970 and then again from 1975 to 1980, The Duke served as President of the Royal Yachting Association. He served as President of the Commonwealth Games Federation from 1954 to 1990 and attended the 10 games within those years. The Island Sailing Club in Cowes gave Princess Elizabeth and The Duke a Dragon class yacht as a wedding present, which they named ‘Bluebottle’ after the colour of its hull. That same blue colour was later used for the hull of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Bluebottle, steered by Lt Cdr Graham Mann, won a Bronze medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
34. The Duke took up playing polo while stationed in Malta from 1949 to 1951. On return to the UK he continued to play at Cowdray Park before being instrumental in setting up the Household Brigade (now Guards) Polo Club on Smith’s Lawn in Windsor Great Park. He retired in 1971 with a handicap of 5.
35. After a visit to the Show Jumping Arena at Hickstead, The Duke set up the Windsor Park Equestrian Club, also on Smith’s Lawn. He was elected President of the International Equestrian Federation every four years from 1964 until he retired in 1986. As President, he was instrumental, amongst other things, in establishing a Veterinary Committee and Veterinary Regulations, and in writing the first International Rules for Carriage Driving Events. In his capacity as President of FEI, he attended four Olympic Games in Mexico, Munich, Montreal and Los Angeles. He visited Kiev in 1973 to witness the European three Day Event Championships in which his daughter, Princess Anne, competed. He visited Moscow to inspect the preparations for the 1980 Olympic Games, but he was not able to attend the Games owing to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
36. Having given up polo, The Duke took up Competition Carriage Driving with a team of four carriage horses borrowed from the Royal Mews. He attended several World and European Championships as a member of the British Team and won one World Team Gold and three World and one European Team Bronze Medals. His best individual place at a Championship was 6th. He gave up driving horses when he reached the age of 65 in 1986, but continued competing with a team of Fell ponies from Balmoral until 2006. He took part in the European Championship for Pony Teams in 2002.
37. The Duke has been connected with several other major sports. He was President of the Football Association from 1955 to 1958, President of the MCC in 1950, and again in 1974. In association with Sir Michael Ansell, he was responsible for devising the Pony Club Mounted Games competitions and gave the Prince Philip cup for the national finals at the Horse of the Year Show.
38. Largely as a result of being asked to give so many speeches and lectures, The Duke has been responsible for a number of books, including ‘Selected Speeches 1948-1955’ (1957); ‘Prince Philip Speaks’ (1960); ‘Birds from Britannia’ (1962); ‘Wildlife Crisis’ (with James Fisher, 1970); ‘The Environmental Revolution’(1978); ‘Competition Carriage Driving’ (1982, rev. 1994); ‘A Question of Balance’ (1982); ‘Men, Machines and Sacred Cows’ (1984); ‘A Windsor Correspondence’(1984); ‘Down to Earth’ (1988); ‘Survival or Extinction: A Christian Attitude to the Environment’ (1989); ‘Driving and Judging Dressage’ (1996); ‘30 Years On and Off The Box Seat’ (2004). ‘Down to Earth’ is even available in Japanese.
39. The Duke began to take a special interest in science, technology and the revival of British industry after the devastation of the war years. He was invited to become Patron of the Industrial Society (now The Work Foundation) in 1952. This, and a tour of industrial developments in northern Canada in 1954, resulted in the organisation of the Commonwealth Study Conference starting in Oxford in 1956 with 300 members under 40 years old drawn from all Commonwealth countries. This was intended as a ‘one-off’ but is has been repeated in other Commonwealth countries every six years ever since. In 1957 he initiated a Commonwealth Technical Training Week, which was held in 1961 with the object of drawing attention to the importance of apprenticeships and technical training.
Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh at the opening of the 1994 Commonwealth Games, Victoria, Canada
40. Apart from accompanying The Queen on all her Commonwealth tours and State Visits abroad, The Duke has made many visits to the smaller Commonwealth countries on his own. These included a voyage across the Pacific in the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1971 paying visits to most of the Crown territories in the area including Palmerston Island. Returning from the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956, he crossed the South Pacific in the Royal Yacht calling on the British Antarctic Survey Bases on the Grahamland Peninsula, and then the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, other smalls islands in the South Atlantic and Gibraltar on the way to meeting The Queen for a State Visit to Portugal.
41. The Duke was invited to become President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1951, 100 years after the Prince Consort had held that position. The meeting was in Edinburgh where The Duke gave the inaugural address titled ‘The British Contribution to Science and Technology in the past 100 years’. In 1959 he attended meetings of the Indian, and Pakistan Associations for the Advancement of Science.
42. In 1965 The Duke was invited to become the President of the Council of Engineering Institutions. In 1976, he was instrumental in persuading the Council to establish the Fellowship of Engineering, which, for the first time, included the most distinguished engineers from all engineering disciplines. In 1992, this became the Royal Academy of Engineering. He was invited to become Senior Fellow in 1976.
43. Between 1965 and 2011, The Duke was President of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. In 1965, he was invited to become Visitor to the Royal College of Art. These two bodies have been active in encouraging collaboration between the arts and industry. In 1952 he was invited to succeed The Queen as President of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and retired in 2011.
44. The Duke has taken a particular interest in the conservation of nature and the natural environment. In 1960, together with Lord Buxton, he initiated the first of three ‘Countryside in 1970’ conferences. This led to his being invited to become the first President of the World Wildlife Fund in 1961. He accepted to be President of the British National Appeal but he declined the international position because he was already fully committed to the FEI. When he retired from the FEI in 1981, he was invited to become International President of WWF and served in that capacity until 1996, and is now President Emeritus. His involvement included chairing all Executive Committee meetings, Trustees meetings, annual conferences and visits to WWF projects all over the globe, including the Russian Arctic coast and the Panda Captive Breeding Centre at Wolong in China.
The Duke enjoys painting landscapes in oils. A friend persuaded him to take it up but it was not until he met Edward Seago, when he was staying at Sandringham as a friend of the late King and Queen, that he began to appreciate its complexities. He invited Seago to join him in HMY Britannia for the return journey from the Olympic Games in Melbourne, when he managed to pick up a lot of good advice. As he withdraws from ‘executive responsibilities’ he is finding more time for this hobby.
45. The Duke became a ‘twitcher’ on that same voyage when he had splendid opportunities to watch and photograph sea birds flying around the Yacht in the South Pacific and South Atlantic Oceans, and during his many tours on behalf of WWF. He published ‘Birds from Britannia’ in 1962 using photographs he had taken from the Yacht during that voyage. He was President of Peter Scott’s Wildfowl Trust for a number of years. He has been Patron of the British Trust for Ornithology since 1987.
46. All matters maritime have interested this former naval officer. He was appointed a Trustee of the National Maritime Museum in 1948 and served in that capacity until 2000, when he was invited to become the Museum’s Patron. It was in collaboration with the Museum’s Director, Frank Carr, that the Cutty Sark Trust was formed to save this famous tea clipper from the breakers’ yard. The Trust was able to raise the funds needed to acquire the ship, build a dry dock at Greenwich and restore her hull and rigging for public display. Sixty years later, work on the ship resulted in a damaging fire, but, again, the necessary funds have been found for a complete restoration of the fabric of the ship. She was back on public display in time for the London Olympic Games in 2012.
47. Together with Frank Carr, The Duke later established the Maritime Trust with the intention that it should do for historic ships what the National Trust was doing for historic houses. Over the years the Trust was responsible for saving such ships as Brunel’s Great Britain (now in Bristol); the first ‘ironclad’ HMS Warrior (now at Portsmouth); Henry VIII’s great ship Mary Rose (also in Portsmouth); Scott’s Discovery (now at Dundee); the 18th century frigate HMS Unicorn (also at Dundee); and another 18th frigate built in Bombay HMS Trincomalee (at Hartlepool), in addition to several smaller ships and craft. When the new SS Great Britain was floated out of her dry-dock in Bristol in 1843, the Prince Consort was on-board. 127 years later, when she was floated back in to the same dry-dock, his great-great grandson, The Duke of Edinburgh, was on-board.
48. In 1992 a devastating fire severely damaged the north-east corner of Windsor Castle. It so happens that The Duke was chairing the WWF Annual Conference in Buenos Aires in Argentina at the time. Since the House of Commons declined to vote any funds for the restoration of the Castle, the Royal Household, under the direction of Sir Michael Peat (Keeper of the Privy Purse at the time) determined to raise the money needed to carry out the work. This was largely achieved by opening Buckingham Palace to the public and charging admission. As soon as The Duke returned he was asked to become Chairman of the Restoration Committee. The Committee obtained the agreement of all relevant authorities to its general plan, and work was able to go ahead without interference or interruption. Part of the plan included re-siting the Private Chapel in such a way that its window looked out over the Upper Quadrangle. The Duke’s sketch for a suggested stained glass window was adopted and executed by Joseph Nuttgens.
49. The Duke was the first member of the Royal family to be involved in television programmes. In May 1957, he presented a programme for the BBC about his four and a half month tour of the Commonwealth. In 1967, he introduced once of Lord Buxton’s ‘Survival’ series about the Galapagos Islands called the ‘Enchanted Isles’. He was the anchor-man for a programme on physical recreation for the CCPR. In 1957, he made a BBC programme during the International Geophysical Year under the title ‘The Restless Sphere.’
50. In 1965, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, invited The Duke to chair a committee to design a scheme to reward industrial and export achievement. They became the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise including the categories of Industry, Export and Environmental Achievement.
51. The Duke is Grand Master and First and Principal Knight of the Order of the British Empire. It was founded by King George V to recognise public service throughout the Empire and Commonwealth.
52. In 1984, the Rowntree Foundation persuaded The Duke to chair ‘An Inquiry into British Housing’. Members were drawn from every aspect of the subject, so it was a considerable achievement when the Committee produced a unanimous report, which, among other things, recommended the phased withdrawal of Mortgage Interest Tax Relief. He had previously served as President of the National Federation of Housing Associations for a short time.
53. The Duke has many military associations. In 1953, he was appointed Captain General of the Royal Marines. He was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars and the Wiltshire Regiment in 1952. The Wiltshire Regiment was amalgamated with the Royal Berkshire Regiment to form the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment. Subsequent amalgamations have turned these regiments into The 4th Battalion of the Regiment of Scotland, the Highlanders; The Queen’s Royal Hussars; and The 1st Battalion, The Rifles. He is also Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and of the Intelligence Corps. He is Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Regiment and of the Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He is also Honorary Colonel of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment.
54. In 1953, The Duke was appointed Colonel of the Welsh Guards until he handed them over to the Prince of Wales in 1975. He was then appointed Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, the senior regiment of the Foot Guards. In this capacity he chairs the Senior Colonel’s Conference of all the Colonels of the Household Division Regiments. He wears the full dress uniform of the Grenadier Guards at the annual ceremony of Trooping the Colour to mark The Queen’s official birthday. He rode in this parade until 2003, when his horse ‘Phillipa’ was retired. He now rides with The Queen in a carriage.
55. In 1977 The Duke was appointed Honorary Air Commodore at RAF Kinloss. The maritime reconnaissance Nimrods were based at Kinloss until they were scrapped in 2010. He has been an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society since 1953.
56. The Duke was invited to become Chancellor of the University of Wales in 1948, and one of his first acts was to present his wife, Princess Elizabeth, with an Honorary Degree. During the ceremony he had to recite the appropriate formula in Welsh. He relinquished the appointment to his son, The Prince of Wales, in 1976.
57. He was Chancellor of Edinburgh University from 1952 to 2011; of Salford University from 1967 to 1991, and Chancellor of Cambridge University from 1976 to 2011. He is a Life Governor of King’s College, London; Patron of the London Metropolitan University; and Visitor of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. In 1972 he was invited to accept the position of President of the Royal College of General Practitioners for its 21st Anniversary year, and then to be Patron. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and, of Edinburgh. He is Patron of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
58. The Duke has always liked collecting things. He remembers as a boy making a collection of penknives. In spite of the fact that the Royal Collection of Pictures is one of the biggest in the world, his association with the conservation of nature encouraged him to buy wildlife art. When he and The Queen first went to stay at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, it had only recently been restored and re-furnished in the time of King George V and Queen Mary. While the main public rooms had some splendid pictures, the upstairs rooms and corridors were mainly hung with prints. For a number of years The Duke used to look in on the Royal Scottish Academy’s Summer Exhibition and buy two or three pictures by contemporary artists. Around 140 of these are now hanging in the upstairs rooms and corridors of the Palace. He has also commissioned a number of artists to paint views of Windsor and of ‘family’ castles in Germany.
59. One of The Duke’s more unusual collections is of original political and royal cartoons, including several by Giles. In this he has followed the example of Kings George III and George IV, whose collections are now held by the Library of Congress. The Duke’s cartoons are hanging at Sandringham.
60. Buckingham Palace was spared serious bomb damage during the Second World War, the only significant damage being suffered by the Private Chapel. Inevitably the repair of the chapel had a low priority. As a good reason for getting the building repaired, The Duke proposed that it should be fitted-out as a picture gallery. The object would be to put on seasonal exhibitions of items from the Royal Collection. Since little or no conservation work had been possible during the war, many of the pictures needed cleaning and the frames repairing. Putting them on exhibition would encourage necessary conservation. The new gallery proved to be a success. It was considerably enlarged in the 1990s and opened by The Queen in May 2002. The Duke is Patron of the Friends of the Royal Academy of Arts.
61. In 1961 The Duke was visiting Pakistan with The Queen, and attended the Lahore Horse and Cattle Show, where he saw the biggest massed pipe band he had ever seen on parade. However, he noticed that both the piping techniques and the traditional pipe tunes suffered a bit from the loss of direct contact with Scottish pipers. He therefore offered the President, General Ayub Khan, to provide piping trophies for the best individual Pakistan Army Piper and the best Regimental Pipe Band, on condition that he could nominate the Judge. This was happily accepted and the annual competition continues keenly to this day.
62. During his public life The Duke has been called upon to make a great many public speeches and lectures. The estimate is 5,000, an average of 8 a month for 58 years. His collected speeches cover over a yard of shelf space.
63. The Duke has been given a great many ‘official’ gifts during his tours abroad and by visiting Heads of State. Among the more unusual were two live pigmy hippopotami from President Tubam of Liberia in 1961; and a giant porcelain grasshopper (wine-cooler) from President Pompidou during the State Visit to France in 1972.
64. The Duke has been President of the English-Speaking Union since 1952. He was instrumental in persuading the Union to make the promotion of the English language as a means of international communication its main object. He has presented the Union with a number of Awards for books and electronic programmes designed to teach English. He also persuaded the Union to establish an English Language Committee, which he chaired until he retired in 2011. The Committee keeps track of all developments in the use of English worldwide.
65. The Duke has always been interested in design. He designed a bracelet as his wedding present to The Queen. The stones came from a tiara owned by his mother. He has initiated a number of projects intended to draw attention to the importance of design and to enhance the status, particularly, of industrial designers. To this end he initiated through the Design Council, the annual Prince Philip Designer’s Prize. The selection committee has been chaired by The Duke since 1959, but the members of the committee are nominated by professional bodies for limited term of service. The candidates are recommended by a separate list of professional bodies.
66. The Duke had met the celebrated British composer Benjamin Britten with friends, and in 1958, he invited him to compose settings for the Jubilate and Te Deum for the St. George’s Windsor Chapel choir.
67. A salute of 41 guns is fired on The Duke’s Birthday by the King’s Troop Royal Artillery in Hyde Park, and the Union flag is flown from government buildings on that day.
68. The Duke is a Freeman of the cities of Acapulco; Belfast; Bridgetown; Cardiff; Dar-es-Salam; Edinburgh; Glasgow; Guadalajara; London; Los Angeles; Melbourne and Nairobi.
69. The Duke has encouraged dialogue between the three Abrahamic faiths – Christians, Jews and Muslims through his support, with Prince Hassan of Jordan, and Sir Evelyn Rothschild for a series of conferences organised by the Inter-faith Dialogue.
70. In 1962, Robin Woods became Dean of Windsor and set about re-organising the College of St. George’s. In conjunction with The Duke he set about the creation of a conference centre in surplus Canon’s residences. St. George’s House has since hosted many discussions between leaders in every aspect of national life organised in the discreet environment of Windsor Castle.
71. The Duke’s Standard consists of four quarters; the three lions and hearts from the Danish Royal coat of arms; the white cross on a blue background from the Greek national flag; the black and white stripes from the Battenberg coat of arms; and Edinburgh Castle from the City of Edinburgh’s coat of arms. He chose Edinburgh Castle surmounted by a Ducal Coronet and surrounded by the Garter as his ‘Badge’, and green as his ‘livery’ colour. All his cars have been painted ‘Edinburgh Green’.
72. The Duke is Ranger of Windsor Great Park and takes a close interest in all its agricultural and silvicultural activities. The Duke has been President of the Royal Agricultural Society of England three times, in 1957, 1963 and 1980. He was instrumental in forming the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth in 1958.
73. When appropriate The Duke wears the kilt. In uniform it is the relevant regimental tartan; in plain clothes it is either the Balmoral or the Royal Stewart tartan.
74. The Duke is a committed Christian. As President of the WWF, and in conjunction with Martin Palmer, in 1986, he organised a meeting between leaders of the major faiths during WWF’s 25th anniversary conference in Assisi. He encouraged the various faiths to look into their relationship to God’s Creation, and at the end of the Assisi Conference, he proposed the creation of the Association of Religion and Conservation (ARC). The purpose was to encourage the members to feel their responsibility for ‘God’s Creation’ and to care for the natural environment. ARC was to act as a technical consultant, and within a few years most of the major faith communities throughout the world had become associated with it.
75. The Duke has taken a close interest in the management of The Queen’s private estates of Sandringham and Balmoral, as well as Windsor Great and Home Parks. Over the years he has re-designed the layout of the gardens on the East Terrace of Windsor and designed the fountain. He created the private garden under the south wall of the Castle.
76. The Duke has gradually re-designed the gardens at Balmoral, including forming a water-garden which he dug out himself with a bulldozer.
77. At Sandringham he extended a lime avenue, and in the Home Park at Windsor he planted an oak avenue to mark The Queen’s Coronation. Since then he has planted a copper beech avenue at Sandringham and a hornbeam avenue at Windsor. He replanted a lime avenue in Windsor Home Park after the hurricane of 1987, blew down most of an old avenue. He persuaded the Association of High Sheriffs to celebrate their millennium by re-planting Queen Anne’s Ride in Windsor Great Park with about 1,000 young oak trees.
78. The Duke was closely involved with every aspect of the design of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Apart from helping The Queen with the interior design, he was instrumental in having her fitted with powered boats falls, and accommodation ladders.
79. As an ex-serviceman of the Second World War, The Duke has a particular interest in his fellow ex-servicemen throughout the Commonwealth. In 1974, he took over as Grand President of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League from his uncle Earl Mountbatten of Burma. He chairs all the Council meetings and, when possible, attends the triennial Conferences.
80. Of the 75 prizes, cups and medals associated with The Duke, the most unusual is probably the Silver Wink Trophy. In 1958 some students at Cambridge challenged The Duke to a tiddlywinks match. The Duke nominated the Goons – a radio comedy team including Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers – as his Champions. The Duke designed and had made a ‘Silver Wink’ trophy which, since 1961, has been presented to the winning team of the inter-University Tiddlywinks Championship.
81. The Duke is the first member of the Royal family ever to fly out of Buckingham Palace Garden in a helicopter. Just before the Coronation he discovered that no-one had been to visit the then Colonial military contingents, which were accommodated at Woolwich, or the Commonwealth contingents at Pirbright. The RAF was asked to provide a helicopter but was unable to do so. The Admiralty was approached and made one available. The flights caused a minor stir among the London air traffic authorities.
82. The Duke is the only person, so far, to have won both the horse teams class (1983) and the pony teams class (1988) at the Lowther Horse Driving Trials. The Duke finished three times in second place in the international horse teams driving event at the Royal Windsor Horse Show and won the competition in 1982.
83. The Duke has made some remarkable flights. In 1959, he flew to Ghana via Palma in a de Havilland Heron, spending the night in El Golea in the middle of the Sahara on the way. In 1997, he flew across the Pacific in a BAe 146 from Petropavlovsk, on the west coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia, through a US Navy station in the Aleutian Islands to Anchorage in Alaska.
84. The Duke received a Blue Nose Certificate when he crossed the Arctic Circle in HMS Whelp in 1944, and a Red Nose Certificate when he crossed the Antarctic Circle in HMY Britannia in 1957.
85. The Duke has eight grandchildren – Peter Phillips, Zara Phillips, Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Lord Severn. Peter and Autumn Phillips provided him with his first great-grandchild when their daughter Savannah was born in December 2010. He now has 4 great-grandchildren: Savannah Phillips, Isla Phillips, Mia Tindall and Prince George of Cambridge.
86. The Duke had an early version of a mobile telephone, made by Pye Telecommunications of Cambridge, fitted to his car in 1953. He installed an improved version provided by the AA (of which he was President at the time).
87. The Duke acquired an Apricot computer in the early 1980s to make it easier to edit the Statutes and General Regulations of the FEI. He nearly got rid of it when that task was completed, but decided to keep it for his own correspondence, speeches and messages. He now has a lap-top.
88. The Duke, like many others, became concerned about the quality of the air in London in the 1960s and acquired an electric vehicle produced by Bedford, with a Lucas electric motor, and Chloride batteries for use in London. When these vehicles ceased to be produced, he acquired a London Metrocab Taxi, painted green, with an engine fuelled by liquid petroleum gas. The taxi was not required to pay the London Congestion Charge when that was introduced. It was still in use in 2011.
89. The Duke is the senior member of the Order of Merit. He was appointed in 1968. The Order was founded by King Edward VII in 1902 and is limited to 24 members for achievements in art, music, literature, science, engineering and industry. Members are appointed by the Sovereign.
90. The Duke was Chairman of the Westminster Abbey Trust which raised the money for, and supervised the restoration of the fabric of the Abbey between 1973 and 1997. When the Abbey decided to fill vacant niches above the Great West Door with figures of ‘modern saints’, one of those selected was the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, one of The Duke’s great aunts.
The Duke was instrumental in creating the Windsor Farm Shop, which was opened in 2001. It sells produce, such as beef, lamb, pork, poultry and eggs from the Windsor Estate, and game, apples and Apple Juice from the Sandringham Estate.
91. Prince Philip became the oldest male member of the Royal Family in history last year, overtaking Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught & Strathearn.
92. His Royal Highness is the highest ranking gentleman in the Order of Precedence in the UK and the second highest ranking person after The Queen.
93. Prince Philip was made Lord High Admiral by The Queen in 2011 on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
Facts via the Buckingham Palace press office.
photo credits: Jamie In Bytown, scazon and Gregory Williams via photopin cc