Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has died aged 99. He had been married to the Queen, former Patron of the Royal Society of Literature, for 73 years and was, in the words she used at the celebration of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, “my constant strength and guide”.
Philip, an only son and youngest of five children, was born in Corfu on 10 June 1921. His father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and his mother was Princess Alice of Battenberg. While he was still a small boy, his family was exiled from Greece, and Philip had a peripatetic education in France, Germany and the UK, ending his schooling at Gordonstoun, in Scotland, where he would later send his oldest son, Prince Charles.
Philip joined the British Royal Navy aged 18, in 1939. In July of that year he began a correspondence with 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth. They were engaged in July 1947, when Elizabeth was 21, and 200 million television viewers watched their wedding.
A keen yachtsman, polo player and carriage driver, Prince Philip (as he became) was patron, president and member of over 700 organisations, perhaps closest to his heart The World Wildlife Fund, of which he was President from 1981-1996. He was Chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for young people, which he co-founded in 1956. When he retired from royal duties in 2017, aged 96, he had completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952. He had also helped the Queen with many of her own. Some Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature will remember a party the Queen gave at Buckingham Palace for people in the world of books. Standing by her in the receiving line, the Duke firmly shook the hands of authors, fixing them in the eye as he demanded, “Fact, or fiction?”
Prince Philip died on the morning of 9 April 2021 at Windsor Castle, just shy of his 100th birthday. Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family at this time.