On Saturday, April 17, 2021, Queen Elizabeth II bade her final farewell to Prince Philip— her husband of over 70 years. The solemn 50-minute service was limited to just 30 senior royals due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest inside the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel alongside the remains of 24 other royals, including three kings of England.
Prince Philip, who died on April 9, 2021, just two months shy of his 100th birthday, had meticulously outlined his funeral's personal touches. This included the music, which was sung by a small choir of just four people. The car buff also helped design the hearse — a specially modified Land Rover — that carried his coffin to the chapel located on the grounds of Windsor Castle. The 900-year-old palace serves as both the Queen's weekend home and an official Royal residence from where she conducts certain formal duties.
Born on June 10, 1921, in Corfu, Greece, Philip was the youngest child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. When he was just a year old, the royal family was overthrown and forced to flee to France. Philip, who attended boarding schools in France, Germany, and Great Britain, joined the Royal Navy in 1939 at the age of 19. Fortuitously, one of his first assignments as a cadet was to entertain Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret during their visit to the Royal Naval College.
While Princess Elizabeth, who was 13 at the time, was instantly taken in by the charming prince, it was not until after World War II that their romance truly blossomed. Following a short engagement, the two got married in a picture-perfect ceremony at the Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947, with 2000 guests in attendance and over 200 million people listening to the ceremony over the radio. Before marrying the British heir presumptive, Philip had to renounce his European titles, become a naturalized British subject, and formally join the Church of England. His father-in-law, King George VI, bestowed the title of Duke of Edinburgh on him.
The young couple's first few years were spent away from the public eye in Malta, where Philip, now an accomplished naval officer, was commissioned. However, that changed in 1952 after King George died at the age of 56. On June 2, 1953, Elizabeth was crowned the Queen of England in the first-ever televised royal coronation, viewed by over 27 million people in the UK and millions more worldwide. Since the British monarchy stipulates that male spouses cannot become king, Philip retained his Duke of Edinburgh title. In 1957, the queen made him an official Prince of the United Kingdom.
Title notwithstanding, Prince Philip played a crucial role in sharing the newly-crowned queen's duties as monarch. He helped the hitherto aloof royal family rethink their relationship with the British citizens and was instrumental in convincing the Queen to meet people from the general public over informal lunches at Buckingham Palace. The forward-thinking prince, who served as the first president of the World Wildlife Fund UK in 1961, was also an outspoken advocate of environmental conservation.
Prince Philip, who retired from public service in 2017, leaves behind four children, eight grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. Known for his wit, his sharp intellect, and his curiosity, the Duke of Edinburgh, will be greatly missed by all, especially his long-time wife, who considered him to be her "strength and stay."
R.I.P. Prince Philip
Resources: Dailymail.co.uk, Wikipedia.com, CNN.com