Royal Biographies: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
by David Johnson
Born on June 10, 1921, on the Greek island of Corfu, Prince Philip was the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece. The family was Greek in name only; they were of Danish and German background. They were plopped onto the Greek throne in the interests of British foreign policy. In 1947, Philip married Princess Elizabeth, now the Queen, to whom he was related. Both are descendants of Queen Victoria and of King Christian IX of Denmark.
He became a British citizen in 1947 and renounced his royal Greek title. Although he gave up his active naval career in 1951, he remains a keen supporter of the British military. Patron or president of some 800 organizations, Prince Philip served as the first president of the World Wildlife Fund. Some environmentalists have accused him of hypocrisy for his enthusiasm for hunting.
Prince Philip is also keenly interested in science, technology, and the development of British industry. He is also an accomplished sportsman. In addition, Philip makes some 150 official engagements each year, including accompanying the Queen on her oversees trips.
Considering his position, Philip has made some amazingly rude and insensitive public comments. In 1986 while visiting China, he told a group of Scottish students in the city of Xian that Beijing was "ghastly" and said that if one of the students stayed in China too long, he would return to Scotland with "slitty eyes." Reported in the press, comments such as these earned Philip widespread condemnation. His apologists have said that such remarks stem from his enduring frustration at perpetually playing second fiddle to his wife.