Prince Philip, the third oldest royal in British history, celebrates his 98th birthday on Monday, 10 June 2019, which coincides with the Queen’s Official Birthday in most Australian states.
He is the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch and the longest-serving male.
Early Life and Naval Career
The youngest child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg was born at their summer residence, Mon Repos, on the Greek island of Corfu.
The family fled into exile when Prince Philip was still a baby, following an anti-royalist coup, and rescued the British Royal Navy.
Prince Philip spent his childhood in France, Britain and Germany, living with relatives when he wasn’t away at boarding school, including Cheam and Gordonstoun. His father had left to live in Monte Carlos and his mother was sent to a psychiatric institution.
He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939, just before World War II broke out, and graduated from the the Royal Navy College at Dartmouth as the top cadet.
Prince Philip saw action in a combative role, serving with distinction, in the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean and was in Tokyo in 1945 when the Japanese surrendered.
He first met the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth at a family wedding in 1934 and at Dartmouth, where he played tour guide for the Royal Family, and began corresponding during the war.
Prince Philip asked King George VI for his eldest daughter’s hand in marriage.
Some did not regard Prince Philip as an ideal choice as he was foreign born without wealth, belonging to an exiled royal house.
King George was reluctant to see his daughter leave the family nest so soon so he requested any formal announcements to be delayed until after Princess Elizabeth’s 21st Birthday.
He gave his Greek and Danish titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten from his maternal grandparents.
Finally King George agreed and the couple were married in Westminster Abbey, with 2,000 guests and 200 million more tuning in on their radios.
They have four children: Charles, Prince of Wales (born 14 November 1948), Anne, Princess Royal (born 15 August 1950), Prince Andrew (born 19 February 1960) and Prince Edward (born 10 March 1964).
However, Prince Philip gave up his naval career when his wife became Queen on 6 February 1952 in Kenya, whilst travelling en-route to Australia.
The trip was canceled as Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth returned to London.
Royal Visits To Australia
The Queen and Prince Philip travelled on a gruelling extensive tour of Australia in 1954, on planes, royal trains and automobiles, through the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
Prince Philip returned Australia in 1956 to open the Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne and again in 1962 to open the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth.
Prince Philip also established the Duke of Edinburgh Award in 1956 to inspire young people to challenge themselves physically and mentally, and build their confidence through non-academic activities.
Other visits to Australia included celebrating the bicentenary of Captain James Cook discovering Australia in 1770, opening the Opera House in 1973 and the Silver Jubilee tour in 1977.
Celebrations and Retirement
The Duke of Edinburgh Award celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 2016, with his daughter-in-law, Sophie Countess of Wessex, participating in a bike ride from Edinburgh to London.
Queen Elizabeth has described Prince Philip as her ‘strength and stay’ during their 70-year marriage, including many decades of change.
In recent years, Prince Philip had suffered from poor health and retired, with last solo public engagement at Buckingham Palace on 2 August 2017.
According to reports, Prince Philip has remained active and independent, living at Sandringham, spending time on his favourite hobbies.
However, Prince Philip was introduced to his latest great-grandchild, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor on 9 May and attended Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding on 18 May 2019.
He is worshipped as a god on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu where islanders posses portraits and hold feasts every year on his birthday.