In honor of the 98th birthday of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh I thought I would give some genealogical and biographical information on him.
Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born in Mon Repos on the Greek island of Corfu on June 10, 1921. He was the only son and fifth and final child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Prince Philip had four elder sisters, Margarita (1905-1981), Theodora (1906-1969), Cecilie (1911-1937) and Sophie (1914-2001).
Prince Philip’s Father:
Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark (January 20 – 1882 – December 3, 1944) of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, was the seventh child and fourth son of King George I of Greece and Olga Constantinovna of Russia. He was a grandson of Christian IX of Denmark and Prince Louise of Hesse-Cassel.
Prince Andrew (left), with his older brothers, the Crown Prince Constantine and Prince Nicholas.
George I of the Hellenes was born December 24, 1845 at the Yellow Palace, an 18th-century town house at 18 Amaliegade, right next to the Amalienborg Palace complex in Copenhagen. He was the second son and third child of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel. Until his accession in Greece, he was known as Prince Vilhelm, the namesake of his grandfathers Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, and Prince Wilhelm of Hesse-Cassel.
King George I of the Hellenes
Olga Constantinovna of Russia was born on August 22, 1851 the daughter of Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaievich and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg. Olga’s father was Grand Duke Constantine Nikolayevich of Russia (September 21, 1827 – January 25, 1892) was the second son of Czar Nicholas I of Russia and younger brother of Czar Alexander II. This gives the Duke of Edinburgh strong familial ties to the Imperial Russian royal family.
Grand Duchess Olga, Queen of the Hellenes
Prince Philip’s mother:
Alice of Battenberg was born on February 25, 1885 in the Tapestry Room at Windsor Castle in Berkshire in the presence of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. She was the eldest child of Prince Louis of Battenberg (after 1917: Louis Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven) and his wife Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine. Her mother was the eldest daughter of Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, the Queen’s second daughter.
Princess Alice of Battenberg
Prince and Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark
The Duke of Edinburgh is a member of the Royal House of Glücksburg (also spelled Glücksborg), shortened from House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, and is a Danish-German branch of the House of Oldenburg, whose members have reigned at various times in Denmark, Norway, Greece and several northern German states.
In 1460, Glücksburg came, as part of the conjoined Danish-German duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, to Count Christian VII of Oldenburg whom, in 1448, the Danes had elected their king as Christian I, the Norwegians likewise taking him as their hereditary king in 1450.
In 1564, Christian I’s great-grandson, King Frederik II, in re-distributing Schleswig and Holstein’s fiefs, allocated Glücksburg to his brother Duke Johann the Younger (1545-1622), along with Sonderburg, in appanage. Johann’s heirs further sub-divided their share and created, among other branches, a line of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg at Beck (an estate near Minden bought by the family in 1605), who remained vassals of Denmark’s kings.
The Danish line of Oldenburg kings died out in 1863 with the death of King Frederik VII of Denmark. Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, the fourth son of Duke Friedrich of Glücksburg, was recognized in the London Protocol of 1852 as successor to the childless King Frederick VII of Denmark. He became King of Denmark as Christian IX as king of Denmark on November 15, 1863.
A few months prior to becoming King of Denmark, Christian IX’s second son, Prince Vilhelm, was elected King of the Hellenes on March 30, 1863, succeeding the ousted Wittelsbach Otto of Greece and reigning under the name George I. As stated above, the seventh child and fourth son of King George I of Greece was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the father of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Highlights of the life the Duke of Edinburgh:
After being educated in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, aged 18. In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. During the visit, the Queen and Louis Mountbatten asked Philip to escort the King’s two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, who were Philip’s third cousinsthrough Queen Victoria, and second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark.
Elizabeth fell in love with Philip and they began to exchange letters when she was thirteen. Eventually, in the summer of 1946, Philip asked the King for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The King granted his request, provided that any formal engagement be delayed until Elizabeth’s twenty-first birthday the following April. By March 1947, Philip had abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles, had adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother’s family, and had become a naturalised British subject. However, this was unnecessary as Philip was a descendent of Sofia of Hanover and due to this he already was a British subject.
The day preceding his wedding, King George VI bestowed the style of Royal Highness on Philip and, on the morning of the wedding, November 20, 1947, he was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in the County of London. Philip and Elizabeth were married in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey, recorded and broadcast by BBC radio to 200 million people around the world. However, in post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for any of the Duke of Edinburgh’s German relations to be invited to the wedding, including Philip’s three surviving sisters, all of whom had married German princes. After their marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh took up residence at Clarence House.
On February 25, 1957, the Queen granted her husband the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom by Letters Patent, and it was gazetted that he was to be known as “His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh”.
New name of the Royal House?:
The accession of Elizabeth II to the throne brought up the question of the name of the royal house, as Elizabeth would typically have taken Philip’s last name on marriage. The Duke’s uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, advocated the name House of Mountbatten. Philip suggested House of Edinburgh, after his ducal title. When Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s grandmother, heard of this, she informed the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who himself later advised the Queen to issue a royal proclamation declaring that the royal house was to remain known as the House of Windsor. Prince Philip privately complained, “I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.”
It’s interesting that the question of the name of the Royal House was raised. The name of the dynasty remains the same during the reign of a Queen Regnant. For example, Queen Mary I 1553-1558, remained a Tudor despite being married to a Habsburg. Queen Anne remained a Stuart despite being married to a Danish prince of the House of Oldenburg. The same with Queen Victoria, the name of the Royal House did not change from Hanover to Saxe-Coburg-Gotha until the accession of her son. King Edward VII, in 1901.
In times past this would not have been an issue and the name of the royal house would automatically change once the Crown passed through the female line to reflect the patrilineal line. I believe that Lord Mountbatten was eager to elevate the status of his family name.
On February 8, 1960, several years after the death of Queen Mary and the resignation of Churchill, the Queen issued an Order in Council declaring that Mountbatten-Windsor would be the surname of her and her husband’s male-line descendants who are not styled as Royal Highness or titled as Prince or Princess. The son of the Duke of Sussex, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, is the first descendant of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh that this order applies to.
Service as Consort to Her Majesty the Queen.
The Duke of Edinburgh has been an excellent support to Her Majesty the queen. However, he has not been without controversy. The prince is no wall flower and often speaks his mind. Sometimes he would make and off-the-cuff remark or joke that would be taken either out of context or was not meant to be offensive but people would at times be offended but what he has said.
The princes has always been a very active man. He played polo until 1971 and then took up the sport of carriage driving. I worked at a historical house and have seen competitive carriage driving myself. I really enjoyed watching that and was happy that the prince took up that sport. Philip was also a skilled yachtsman and pilot.
Philip is patron of some 800 organisations, particularly focused on the environment, industry, sport, and education. His first solo engagement as Duke of Edinburgh was in March 1948, presenting prizes at the boxing finals of the London Federation of Boys’ Clubs at the Royal Albert Hall. He was President of the National Playing Fields Association (now known as Fields in Trust) for 64 years, from 1947 until his grandson Prince William took over the role in 2013.
He served as UK President of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 to 1982, International President from 1981, and President Emeritus from 1996. In 1952, he became patron of The Industrial Society (since renamed The Work Foundation). He was President of the International Equestrian Federation from 1964 to 1986, and has served as Chancellor of the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Salford, and Wales.
In 2017, the British Heart Foundation thanked Prince Philip for being its patron for 55 years, during which time, in addition to organising fundraisers, he “supported the creation of nine BHF-funded centres of excellence”. He is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge.
Prince Philip retired from his royal duties on 2 August 2017, meeting Royal Marines in his final solo public engagement, aged 96. Since 1952 he had completed 22,219 solo engagements. Prime Minister Theresa May thanked him for “a remarkable lifetime of service”. On November 20, 2017, he celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary with the Queen, which made her the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary.
The Duke of Edinburgh is the longest-lived descendant of both Queen Victoria and King Christian IX of Denmark, he is the longest serving British royal consort and his marriage to HM The Queen is the longest in British royal history.