One Year After His Passing, Queen Elizabeth Shares Touching Tribute to Prince Philip, Plus the Duke’s Remarkable Life in Pictures
A painting of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is photographed in the year of his retirement from public engagements set in The Grand Corridor at Windsor Castle with him depicted wearing the sash of the Order of the Elephant, Denmark's highest-ranking honour in 2017 in England. Photo: Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
Visit our gallery (above) for a look at the iconic moments in Prince Philip’s extraordinary life
It was one year ago on Saturday (April 9) that His Royal Highness Prince Philip — late husband of Queen Elizabeth II and the longest-serving consort in British history — passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle. He was just two months shy of his 100th birthday.
To mark the anniversary, the Queen took to social media this weekend to pay an emotional tribute to her late husband — whom she once called her “strength and stay” — by sharing a poem “The Patriarchs – An Elegy,” written by the U.K.’s Poet Laureate Simon Armitage. The post is paired with a video montage highlighting Philip’s long life, including his wedding day and poignant moments of family life, including the arrival of the couple’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The caption reads: “Remembering His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh on the first anniversary of his death.” The message was also shared by other royal family members, including Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as well as Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
The poem, which was first published on the day of Philip’s funeral last year, begins: “The weather in the window this morning is snow, unseasonal singular flakes, a slow winter’s final shiver. On such an occasion to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up for a whole generation – that crew whose survival was always the stuff of minor miracle, who came ashore in orange-crate coracles, fought ingenious wars, finagled triumphs at sea with flaming decoy boats, and side-stepped torpedoes.
“Husbands to duty, they unrolled their plans across billiard tables and vehicle bonnets, regrouped at breakfast. What their secrets were was everyone’s guess and nobody’s business. Great-grandfathers from birth, in time they became both inner core and outer case in a family heirloom of nesting dolls.
“Like evidence of early man their boot-prints stand in the hardened earth of rose-beds and borders. They were sons of a zodiac out of sync with the solar year, but turned their minds to the day’s big science and heavy questions.
“To study their hands at rest was to picture maps showing hachured valleys and indigo streams, schemes of old campaigns and reconnaissance missions. Last of the great avuncular magicians they kept their best tricks for the grand finale: Disproving Immortality and Disappearing Entirely.
“The major oaks in the wood start tuning up and skies to come will deliver their tributes. But for now, a cold April’s closing moments parachute slowly home, so by mid-afternoon snow is recast as seed heads and thistledown.”
The poetic tribute follows last week’s service of thanksgiving for Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey, in what was the Queen’s first public appearance in five months. Her Majesty has also arranged for some of his most important outfits to be displayed at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth as a token of remembrance. The outfits — which include a naval uniform and admiral’s cap worn by the Duke of Edinburgh during his time in the navy — are also part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Incidentally, Saturday’s somber milestone is also the 17th wedding anniversary of Philip’s son, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Here, we look back at some of the most iconic moments of Prince Philip’s extraordinary life. And be sure to visit our photo gallery (above).
The Remarkable Life of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh
Philip was the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Famously born on a dining room table at the family’s 19th century neoclassical villa on Corfu, Philip was only 18 months old when he and his family were forced into exile following a military coup.
It was after they eventually settled in Britain that he would, of course, meet his distant cousin and future wife, the young Princess Elizabeth, catching her eye when she was just 13 years old. As the royal love story goes, she was instantly smitten with the dashing prince and told her father, King George VI, that she could love no other man but him. The couple went on to marry on Nov. 20, 1947, when he was 26 and she was 21.
During Philip’s lifetime, which spanned nearly a century, he served during the Second World War on a Royal Navy battleship, becoming one of their youngest first lieutenants. In fact, he was stationed in Tokyo Bay as the Japanese surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945. As consort, he supported the Queen’s work in countless tours and engagements around the world and, over the course of his career, had been associated with nearly 1,000 charities. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a youth awards programme he founded in 1956, has since expanded to 144 nations, including Canada.
Despite his hectic roster of royal duties, he made time for his other passions, including sports, becoming a master of polo, carriage driving and sailing, among others. A long patron of the arts, he also enjoyed oil painting, creating many portraits and landscapes, some of which are held in the Royal Collection Trust.
A champion of the environment and conservation — long before it became fashionable — he helped to found the World Wide Fund for Nature in 1961.
The duke, who was known for his common touch, also played a key role helping to modernize the monarchy in keeping with a changing world following the Second World War, as well as serving as Her Majesty’s most outspoken and trusted advisor.
“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,” Elizabeth said in a rare personal tribute to Philip in a speech marking their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.
“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.”
In addition to his royal service, Philip was a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. In fact, at the time of his death, he had 10 great-grandchildren — with another on the way.