Prince Philippe, Duke of Edinburgh, has passed away at the age of 99, Buckingham Palace announced on Friday. He will have been alongside Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years.
It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the passing of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, can we read on the Buckingham Palace website.
The prince breathed his last on Friday morning at Windsor Castle. It is
passed away peacefully we still indicate.
To mark the Duke's departure, Buckingham Palace half-masted its British flag.
Earlier this year, he had spent a month long hospital stay with an infection. The announcement of his transfer to treat heart problems then instilled fears that his condition would deteriorate further. However, he was released from hospital in mid-March.
A constant partner of the queen, Prince Philippe would have celebrated his 100th birthday next June; November would have marked her 74th birthday alongside Elizabeth II.
He will have "gained the affectation of several generations, in the United Kingdom, within the Commonwealth as in the rest of the world", reacted the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
Growing up in a dispersed family
Queen Elizabeth II's husband was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on June 10, 1921, on the island of Corfu, Greece. His family was expelled the following year with the overthrow of the monarchy and his uncle, King Constantine I.
Exiled, Philippe's family first settled in France, in the suburbs of Paris. His mother, suffering from depression, is interned. His father settled in the south of France and kept few ties with his son. Philip's four older sisters married nobles and settled in Germany.
Philippe is sent to the United Kingdom, where he is taken care of by his mother's family. He attended British boarding schools, where he was recognized as a "born leader". He spent a short time in a German school.
He was then trained, as tradition dictates, in the British Royal Navy, where he served during World War II. He participated in particular in the landing of the Allies in Sicily in 1943.
Marry a future queen
After the war, he married Princess Elisabeth – his third cousin – whom he met when she was 13 and with whom he has corresponded for several years. According to the British media, the prince seduced the princess with his independent attitude, his noble presence and his young first face.
To be able to marry Elizabeth, he renounces his Greek and Danish royal titles, obtains British naturalization, changes from Greek Orthodox to Anglican, and adopts the surname Mountbatten, that of his maternal grandparents (Battenberg) in an anglicized version.
The couple married in 1947 at Westminster Abbey. Philippe then received the titles of Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron of Greenwich.
Elisabeth quickly becomes pregnant. Their first child, Prince Charles, was born on November 14, 1948, followed by Princess Anne on August 15, 1950, Prince Andrew on February 19, 1960, and Prince Edward on March 10, 1964.
After the marriage, Philippe continued his naval career. The couple moved to Malta, where Philippe had just been transferred. However, King George VI's health deteriorated, and he was increasingly discharging his obligations on Elizabeth and her husband. With royal engagements and increasing number of tours, Philippe decided in 1951 to temporarily leave his military activities.
The death of George VI on February 6, 1952, changed Elizabeth into queen. Philippe was forced to give up his naval career to adopt that of prince consort, a role which consisted of staying in the background, although two steps behind the sovereign.
Prince Philippe was a very talented sailor, there is no doubt about it. If he had not followed another path, it was he, and not I, who would have been appointed First Lord of the Admiralty.
Having become Prince of Great Britain, Philippe took over the management of royal properties, such as Sandringham and Balmoral.
In addition to following the Queen on her travels, he participated in independent royal engagements, both in the UK and around the world.
He is also dedicated to activities as a patron and philanthropist, and sponsors more than 800 organizations around the world. About 40 are located in Canada, including the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and the Canadian Curling Association.
His commitments generally reflect his fields of interest, namely the well-being of young people, the environment, sports, the military and technology.
Most famous of his philanthropic works is the creation of the Duke of Edinburgh's Prize program. Created in 1956, its goal is to encourage young people aged 14 to 24 to set up initiatives allowing them to surpass themselves and take part in the life of their community. It is established in more than 140 countries.
A modern prince with a little formal language
From the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth II, Philippe forged a reputation as a modernist. His willingness to keep the media informed of royal activities so that they have more visibility contributes to this. He later regretted letting the press enter the life of the royal family too much.
The press has made our life into a soap opera.
He himself has more than once captured the attention of the British and international media, due to his fiery temper and blundering.
His comments sometimes earned him criticism, such as when he asked Australian Aborigines in 2002 if they were still throwing arrows at each other, or when he warned a group of Brits who visited China in 1986 that they risked "developing. slanted eyes ”if they stay too long in this country.
According to the BBC, Prince Philippe never truly won over the British people, being too "blunt" and "intransigent". But he nevertheless earned their respect by doing his duty as prince consort for nearly 70 years.
A less busy schedule recently
In recent years, the Duke of Edinburgh had slowed the pace of his obligations, which were still 300 events per year in 2005. He delegated several to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, wife of his grandson William.
Nevertheless, Philip participated in the celebrations surrounding the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, which marked the 60th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Elizabeth II.
He is the longest-serving prince consort in the UK and the longest-married spouse to a reigning British monarch.
Moreover, Queen Elizabeth II herself has more than once testified to the support and loyalty he has always shown in the performance of his duties.
It is my rock. He has simply been my strength and my support.