Philip was a member of the Greek royal family. File
Prince Philip, the longest serving royal consort in British history who was a constant presence at Queen Elizabeth II's side for decades, died on Friday aged 99, Buckingham Palace has announced.
The death of the Duke of Edinburgh is a profound loss for the 94-year-old monarch, who once described him as her "strength and stay all these years.”
Queen Elizabeth announced his passing "with deep sorrow" after he died peacefully in the morning at Windsor Castle, west of London, the palace said in a statement.
"The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss," the statement said.
Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, married Elizabeth in 1947 and was the longest-serving consort in British history. He retired from public engagements in 2017 after carrying out more than 20,000 of them.
Philip was a member of the Greek royal family and was born on the Greek island of Corfu in 1921. He was an avid sportsman who loved country pursuits. He had four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
He headed hundreds of charities, founded programmes that helped British schoolchildren participate in challenging outdoor adventures, and played a prominent part in raising his four children, including his eldest son, Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.
Philip spent a month in hospital earlier this year before being released on March 16 to return to Windsor Castle.
“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the palace said. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”
Philip, who was given the title Duke of Edinburgh on his wedding day, saw his sole role as providing support for his wife, who began her reign as Britain retreated from empire and steered the monarchy through decades of declining social deference and UK power into a modern world where people demand intimacy from their icons.
In the 1970s, Michael Parker, an old navy friend and former private secretary of the prince, said of him: “He told me the first day he offered me my job, that his job - first, second and last - was never to let her down.”
The queen, a very private person not given to extravagant displays of affection, once called him “her rock” in public.
In private, Philip called his wife Lilibet; but he referred to her in conversation with others as “The Queen.”
Over the decades, Philip’s image changed from that of handsome, dashing athlete to arrogant and insensitive curmudgeon. In his later years, the image finally settled into that of droll and philosophical observer of the times, an elderly, craggy-faced man who maintained his military bearing despite ailments.
The popular Netflix series “The Crown” gave Philip a central role, with a slightly racy, swashbuckling image. He never commented on it in public, but the portrayal struck a chord with many Britons, including younger viewers who had only known him as an elderly man.
Philip’s position was a challenging one - there is no official role for the husband of a sovereign queen - and his life was marked by extraordinary contradictions between his public and private duties. He always walked three paces behind his wife in public, in a show of deference to the monarch, but he was the head of the family in private. Still, his son Charles, as heir to the throne, had a larger income, as well as access to the high-level government papers Philip was not permitted to see.
Philip often took a wry approach to his unusual place at the royal table.
“Constitutionally, I don’t exist,” said Philip, who in 2009 became the longest-serving consort in British history, surpassing Queen Charlotte, who married King George III in the18th century.
He frequently struggled to find his place - a friction that would later be echoed in his grandson Prince Harry’s decision to give up royal duties.
“There was no precedent,” he said in a rare interview with the BBC to mark his 90th birthday. “If I asked somebody, ‘What do you expect me to do?’ they all looked blank.”
The Duke of Edinburgh has been admitted to hospital as a “precautionary measure” on the advice of his doctor after feeling unwell.
Prince Philip earned a reputation for his off-the-cuff remarks during his long career as Queen Elizabeth II's consort that were politely described as gaffes but often bordered on offensive.
Philip, the longest serving royal consort in British history, died peacefully in the morning at Windsor Castle, west of London, Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
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