Prince Philip was born Prince of Greece and Denmark in Corfu on 10 June 1921, the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. He is the oldest living great, great-grandchild of Queen Victoria and is in the line of succession to thrones in 16 countries.
Prince Philip graduated as the top cadet in his course from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in 1939 and it was the start of a distinguished career in the Royal Navy.
A visit to the Royal Naval College by the Royal Family began an exchange of letters between Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth. He proposed in 1946 and they married in Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947. During this year Prince Philip was given the title His Royal Highness and created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.
Prior to Princess Elizabeth’s accession to the throne on 6 February 1952, Prince Philip continued to pursue his naval career, rising through the ranks to Lieutenant and ultimately to the rank of Commander. Following Elizabeth's coronation he assumed the role of royal consort with all its associated duties.
A royal consort for longer than anyone else in British history, Prince Philip accompanies The Queen on all her Commonwealth tours and state visits overseas, as well as on tours and visits to all parts of the UK.
During the golden wedding speech at London's Guildhall in 1997, the Queen paid a warm tribute to her husband: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.”
Shortly after the accession of Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke was appointed President of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee on the design of coins, medals, seals and decorations. He attended his first meeting on 21 March 1952 and was at once fully involved in the important task of selecting designs for the coins of the new reign. He remained president until his retirement in 1999.
Prince Philip has made an enormous contribution to people in the UK and remains patron or president of around 800 organisations. He represents the very best in British philanthropy and commitment to good causes. In the 1950s he created the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which continues to support thousands of young people each year.
Internationally he is well known for his close links to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). He takes an active interest in critical issues for the future, including the survival of priority species.
Prince Philip is an enthusiastic sportsman, taking part in charity cricket matches in the 1950s and playing polo until 1971. He drew up the first set of rules for the sport of carriage-driving at which he competed between 1973 and 2003. He has also been a keen yachtsman, regularly attending Cowes Regatta.
The Prince is passionate about many aspects of traditional and modern life and has never restricted himself to a narrow range of interests. He has learned to fly many different kinds of aircraft, and has also served as President of the International Equestrian Federation. He paints with oils, and is a keen collector of other artists’ work.
90th Birthday Celebration
Prince Philip’s 90th birthday in 2011 is a wonderful opportunity to commemorate and celebrate a genuinely remarkable life of service and achievement.
The Royal Mint is proud to honour him with a £5 coin bearing a special portrait created by Mark Richards FRBS.
Marks explains: ‘I wanted to convey the Duke of Edinburgh as a man of great personal warmth. The work shows a close up portrait, rather than distant figurehead, that emphasises his gentle nature.’
The obverse features the familiar portrait of Her Majesty The Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS.