From The Chair - A Tribute To HRH The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh 1921 -2021
By Chris Williams
Friday April 9th is a sad day for our beloved Patron HM Queen Elizabeth II and indeed the United Kingdom and commonwealth as a whole, following the sad announcement from Buckingham Palace “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle”.
I heard the news of this turning point in world history as it came over the Radio while on the phone to our Club secretary Jenny Mills and being honest, I was shocked as the Duke seemed to me at least a figure that would go on forever. The Royal family have an active and illustrious association with our sport and His Royal Highness was the longest serving consort in the history of our Island. He had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy seeing action in the 1939-45 war at Cape Matapan where he was mentioned in despatches for bravery and in the invasion of Sicily, where he saved his ship by his quick thinking. I felt as a young man with a great respect of both the Monarchy and the Duke, who carried out his duties as Consort so well the need to write this article purely as a mark of respect and admiration for a man whose long and vibrant life was one of Duty, Love, Loyalty and Service to Wife, Family, Crown and Country.
His Royal Highness Prince Philip was born in Greece on the 10th of June 1921 on the island of Corfu, shortly after which his maternal grandfather Prince Louis of Battenberg, then known as Louis Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven, died in London. Louis was a naturalised British subject who, after a career in the Royal Navy, had renounced his German titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten (an Anglicised version of Battenberg). Prince Phillip’s Mother Princess Alice of Battenberg herself was commended for bravery because of her actions of resistance to the Nazi occupation of Greece during the Second World War, namely sheltering Jewish refugees, for which she is recognised as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Israel's Holocaust memorial institution, Yad Vashem, and after the war, she stayed in Greece and founded a Greek Orthodox nursing order of nuns known as the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary. At the time when Greece and Turkey were fighting a bitter and bloody war which went badly for the Greek forces of the time many blamed Prince Philips uncle who was high commander of the Greek expeditionary force, King Constantine I, was blamed for the defeat and was forced to abdicate on 27 September 1922. The new military government arrested Prince Andrew, Prince Philips father, along with others. The commanding officer of the army, General Georgios Hatzianestis, and five senior politicians, were arrested, tried, and executed in the Trial of the Six. Prince Andrew's life was also believed to be in danger, and Princess Alice was under surveillance. Finally in December, a revolutionary court banished Prince Andrew from Greece for life. The British Naval vessel HMS Calypso evacuated Prince Andrew's family, with the eighteen-month-old Prince Philip being carried to safety in a cot made from a fruit box, this is hardly the start in life one would expect for any child let alone a Prince and great grandson of Queen Victoria! The family went to France, where they settled in the Paris suburb of Saint-Cloud in a house lent to them by his aunt, Princess George of Greece, and Denmark. While being educated at The Elms, an American school in Paris he was described by a tutor as: “a know it all smarty person, but always remarkably polite”. After continuing his education in both England and Germany it was in the year of 1939 that the young Prince enrolled as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, graduating as the best cadet in his class. Appointed to the rank midshipman in January 1940. The young officer spent two months on the battleship HMS Ramillies, before being transferred for brief spells on HMS Kent and HMS Shropshire.
His Royal Highness fought at the following Battels and Military Operations:
Battle of Crete
Battle of Cape Matapan
Allied invasion of Sicily
Battle of Okinawa
He was awarded The Greek War Cross and The Croix de Guerre with Palm. Prince Philip also attained the rank of commander. Having to leave military service when Queen Elizbeth The II, who he had married in 1947, came to the Throne in 1952. At the Coronation ceremony of Her Majesty The Queen on June 2nd 1953 at Westminster Abbey Prince Philip took the Solomon oath before God and Queen that He would be Her Majesty’s ‘liegeman of life and limb.’ A duty which he fulfilled unto the end of his long and dignified life.
His Coat of arms bore the motto: God Is My Help, it is My sincere Prayer That God Now grants unto Him eternal Rest.
It is hard to summarise a life spanning 99 years but Perhaps this verse sums up the man best.
“I slept, and dreamed that life was beauty; I woke, and found that life was duty”.
The coat of Arms of The late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
HRH The Prince Philip Duke of Edenborough 1921-2021
Our Patron HM The Queen With HRH The Prince Phillip Duke of Edinburgh they have been married over 70 years
A young Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth
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