Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021)
Tributes from around the world are pouring into Buckingham Palace, offering condolences on the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort and lifelong companion of Queen Elizabeth II. Philip died on Friday, April 9, 2021, at the age of 99.
Prince Philip’s life spanned many historical eras, from the genteel manners of old world royalty to the rough and tumble of the modern media era. Born on Corfu on June 10, 1921 into the Greek royal family, he was the nephew of King Constantine I of Greece. When the king was forced to abdicate in 1922 after the disastrous Greek campaign in Turkey, the infant Philip and his family fled the country. Like many an exiled royal, he lived and attended school all over Europe, including France, Germany, and eventually the United Kingdom.
A central moment of his life, as for so many of his countrymen, was World War II. He attended the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in 1939 and served aboard a whole series of ships in the course of the war, including the battleship HMS Ramillies in the Indian Ocean, and battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Sea. He fought in the action off Cape Matapan in Greece on March 28, 1941, where the Royal Navy destroyed an Italian naval squadron. Philip operated a searchlight in the clash and was commended for his “alertness and appreciation of the situation.” He also saw action in Operation Husky, the Allied landing on Sicily in July 1943, served in Pacific as an aide to his uncle Louis, Lord Mountbatten, and finally attended the Japanese surrender on board the USS Missouri (BB-63) on Sept. 2, 1945.
Phillip married Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and left active military service when Elizabeth became queen in 1952. The couple had four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
The UK Ministry of Defence announced in a statement today that gun salutes will be fired across the UK at noon on Saturday, April 10. “Saluting batteries will fire 41 rounds at one round every minute for 40 minutes," the statement said. The salutes will take place in Edinburgh, London, Cardiff, and Belfast, as well as on ships at sea. Similar salutes have been fired to mark key national events in Britain’s past, such as the deaths of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Winston Churchill in 1965.
Prince Philip’s death is a reminder of the passing of our own wartime generation here in the United States, and a reaffirmation of the key role played by Great Britain, the British Empire, and the Commonwealth in the fight against fascism.