On 6 February, 1952 the then Princess Elizabeth succeeded to the throne on the death of her father, the greatly loved King George VI.
This meant he had to give up a promising naval career.
Prince Philip was born into the Greek Royal Family on 10 June, 1921, but his family was exiled from Greece when he was a child. He was educated in Germany and the UK.
On leaving school in 1939, and without hesitation, he had joined the Royal Navy. In 1940 he graduated in 1940 from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, the top cadet in his course.
Commissioned a midshipman, he served on the battleship HMS Ramillies, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force in the Indian Ocean.
He later served in the Mediterranean on HMS Valiant in the Battle of Crete. He was mentioned in despatches for service during the Battle of Cape Matapan, and was awarded the Greek
War Cross of Valour.
In a series of courses at Portsmouth, he gained the top grade in four out of five sections and then served in convoy escort duties on the east coast of Britain, and then in the invasion of Sicily. He was appointed first lieutenant of HMS Wallace and at 21, was one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. He saw service in the British Pacific Fleet in the 27th Destroyer Flotilla, and was at Tokyo Bay when the instrument of Japanese surrender was signed.
I remember seeing him on the Royal Visit in 1954. What a superb couple they were. The young Queen, a beautiful English rose, and the handsome Greek naval officer. They came not to exercise power, or to extract tribute, but as symbols of our oldest institution, the one which gives leadership above division and above politics.
The first consort to a Queen since Prince Albert, he has carved out a unique role for himself. A pioneer, he has probably done more to modernise the monarchy than anybody else. One of his greatest achievements has been setting up the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme to help young people, which has been a great success across the world and well beyond the Commonwealth. The scheme has, as Gerald Warner says, brought meaning and fulfilment to the lives of millions of youngsters: at any time there are around 225,000 in the 14-25 age group participating.
A conservationist well before it was fashionable, he has played a significant leadership role in the World Wild Life Fund. He has also played a significant role in several other organisations, including the English Speaking Union.
He has taken up a number of causes, from British industry to the environment, and has never been afraid to speak out on issues he feels strongly about.
...lazy journalistic campaign to caricature the Duke....
Sections of the British press have conducted a tedious and infantile campaign to reduce him to a caricature, as they do with other royalty, including his son and grandsons. In Prince Philip’s case, this has involved taking obvious examples of his humour, and categorising these as “gaffes.”
As he told the General Dental Council in 1960: "Dentopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it. I have been practising it for years."
But as Gerald Warner says most of his supposed "gaffes" were manufactured by the media. He says what everybody thinks but which “the PC nomenklatura forbids us to utter”.
Mr Warner recalls the revelation in Adam Boulton's book Tony's Ten Years: Memoirs of the Blair Administration of his clash with the Downing Street spin doctors at the time of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
The “pondlife in Number 10”, as Mr. Warner puts it were attempting to hijack the funeral and, in particular, to dictate roles for Princes William and Harry. “Down the telephone line from Balmoral thundered a classic Philippic: ‘**** off. We are talking about two boys who have lost their mother.’"
“How refreshing to hear that decent, humane voice disrupting the manipulative spin and guff that has dominated our public life for 12 years,” observes Mr. Warner.
But as we have seen some journalists have built up a caricature of the Prince as someone who is forever "gaffe-prone."
This then breeds a spectacularly lazy form of journalism.The lazy journalist merely asks someone what Prince Philip said, finds a witty comment and then circulates this as the "shock latest gaffe".
They could produce a computer programme to do this.The unfortunate result is that even fair and experienced journalists will find it difficult to ignore something which has been artificially manufactured as newsworthy. This contrived capture of the news is something which serious journalists should consider carefully. Should they be mere tools in the hands of people who abuse the privileges which the media enjoy for the most important reasons?
Prince Philip is of course a more substantial person than the caricature the media presents. But some journalists never let the truth get in the way of a headline. The public see through this robotic campaign and recognize Prince Philip for the formidable man he is.
His Royal Highness receives a card and gift from supporters of Action on Hearing Loss (previously the Royal National Institute for Deaf People) on his 90th birthday during a reception at Biuckingham Palace: a report from TheRoyalChannel on 10 June 10, 2011
The Queen has conferred the title and office of Lord High Admiral to His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
The Queen has held the office of titular head of the Navy – Lord High Admiral – since the Navy’s organisational structure was reviewed in 1964 and the title was re-vested in the Sovereign. Neither the Army nor the Air Force have similar offices at their head and the Navy is the only Service in which Her Majesty holds the official headship in addition to being ‘Head of the Armed Forces’.
The office of the Lord High Admiral dates from the 14th century, when the English Navy consolidated into one force. Originally responsible for aspects of Navy policy, the position of Lord High Admiral was held on commission by various peers of the realm.
We at ACM wish Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a very happy 90th birthday.
He was born into the Greek Royal Family on 10 June, 1921, but his family was exiled from Greece when he was a child. He was educated in Germany and the UK.
From his youngest years, the Duke’s life has been about service. In 1939, he left school and immediately enlisted in the Royal Navy.
Commissioned a midshipman, he served on the battleship HMS Ramillies, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force in the Indian Ocean.
He later served in the Mediterranean on HMS Valiant in the Battle of Crete. He was mentioned in despatches for service during the Battle of Cape Matapan, and was awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour
In a series of courses at Portsmouth, he gained the top grade in four out of five sections and then served in convoy escort duties on the east coast of Britain, and then in the invasion of Sicily. He was appointed first lieutenant of HMS Wallace and at 21, was one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. He saw service in the British Pacific Fleet in the 27th Destroyer Flotilla, and was at Tokyo Bay when the instrument of Japanese surrender was signed.He later courted and married the then Princess Elizabeth later Queen Elizabeth.
I first saw him with The Queen in 1954. A golden couple, they radiated all of the great virtues and strengths which a Royal couple should.
Australians across our vast nation saw that, and for those who would today denigrate the nation as it was then, those who were adults had fought two world wars, suffered through a depression and built a nation - including much of the infrastructure which we enjoy today and which we seem incapable to add to in any significant way.
As consort, Prince Philip has contributed to the community in Britain, the Commonwealth and beyond over a wide variety of fields including various sports, in conservation where he has been a significant force , in various charities for the disadvantaged and other worthy causes including his overwhelmingly successful award scheme and in the promotion of the English language.
But for many years now he has been the target of elements within the British media. There is a disgracefully lazy form of journalism. It involves making a well-known public person, preferably a member of the Royal family, a caricature.So they have created a caricature of the Prince as someone who is forever "gaffe-prone."
The lazy journalist merely asks someone what Prince Philip said, finds a witty comment and then circulates this as the "shock latest gaffe". They could produce a computer programme to do this. Of course Prince Philip is a much more substantial person than the caricature portrayed in too much of the media.
...a media tribute...
“The colossal importance of the Duke of Edinburgh, who celebrates his 90th birthday next week, is that he has defied the spirit of his time,” writes Peter Oborne in the London Daily Telegraph (“The Duke of Edinburgh at 90: Prince Philip’s exemplary life can be an inspiration to all of us,” 2 June 2011) .
“This is why, for most of his adult life, he has been forced to endure such hostility and contempt. In the 1960s, satirists portrayed him as a member of a bankrupt establishment.
“The state socialists who ran Britain in the 1970s despised the Duke as a symbol of ruling-class domination. “The New Right that came to power in the 1980s could not understand him at all. He was not for sale, he was not efficient, and he was not driven by the profit motive, yet he could not really be classified as part of the public sector. He appeared to have no purpose.”
In a television interview to mark his 90th birthday Prince Philip has criticised the decision to decommission the vessel in the 1997 cost-cutting measure by the Labour government, reports Adrian Lee in the London Daily Express (17/5).
He is right.
It was not only short sighted and mean hearted, it was damaging to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, especially the Realms which share The Queen as their Sovereign or Monarch, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Pacific and Caribbean Realms.
It is important that Britannia be replaced. We make a suggestion below as to how this could be done .
...refurbishing Britannia was best option...
Asked in the programme by Alan Titchmarsh if it was the right decision Prince Philip gives a bold “no”, saying it left him “saddened”.
He adds: “She should have had her steam turbines taken out and diesel engines put in. She was as sound as a bell and she could have gone on for another 50 years.”
Adrien Lee reports that interview is due to be screened later this month. He recalls that in the nineties the Conservative government had proposed replacing Britannia with a new yacht at a cost of £60million but Labour scrapped the plan. Refurbishing her, the option favoured by Prince Philip, would have cost £17million but that was also rejected.
Designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, HMY Britannia carried The Queen, other members of the Royal Family, and various dignitaries on 696 foreign visits and 272 visits in British waters. Over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986 were evacuated by Britannia.
The ship was an enormous source of prestige and influence, not only for the United Kingdom, but for the entire Commonwealth especially the Realms which share The Queen as their Sovereign or Monarch, including Australia Canada New Zealand. and the Pacific and Caribbean Realms. In a foreign country she would attract enormous attention, and the High Commissioners from the Commonwealth would be prominent among the foreign diplomats often invited on board. The visit would attract even more attention than a Royal Visit normally does.
Royal author Phil Dampier told the Express that the cost of refurbishing Britannia would have been “peanuts”
“The yacht gave the nation tremendous prestige and much smaller royal families in countries such as Denmark still have a royal yacht,” he says.
“Britannia was comfortable and intimate but by no means luxurious... Many of the crew served on Britannia for years. Philip, who was a former naval officer, especially loved Britannia and it held so many happy memories for both him and the Queen,” he added
One of the vessel’s final roles after the handover of Hong Kong back to China in July 1997, the Prince of Wales and the former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten and his family left the colony on board Britannia.
The 83rd royal yacht since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660 and the second to be called Britannia, she was decommissioned at a ceremony in Portsmouth.
Adrien Lee says that Prince Charles, who shares his father’s fondness for the yacht, once wrote about the impending loss of Britannia: “There was a kind of exasperated sadness experienced by all and sundry.”
Mr. Lee says Prince Charles observed that American officials did not understand the decision to decommission the vessel, which he describes as “the dear yacht”.
We have argued here that the best solution to the question of royal finances is to hand back the Crown Estate income – all of it – to The Queen. After all it is hers as Queen. Any surplus – as judged by the Palace- could be handed to worthwhile charities. Some contribution over time could perhaps come from that towards the cost a new royal yacht which would also serve for other purposes in the Royal navy.
This could be considered with another proposal we made here in 2006.
We said then that to obtain the prestige of a Royal Visit with HMY Britannia, and the resulting advantages in influence and goodwill, the French would happily guillotine a whole cabinet of politicians.
The advantages of Britannia extended to the material. The Overseas Trade Board reckoned that £3 billion had been made for the Exchequer as a result of just the commercial days on Britannia between 1991 and 1995. It is surely in the interests of the UK and the Commonwealth to commission a successor to Britannia.
The running costs could easily be subsidised by making her available to Commonwealth nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others. It could also be used by these countries to great advantage for trade promotion and other purposes - with a member of the Royal Family present to lend a Commonwealth aura to the occasion.
The fact is there are few politicians - even Antipodean - who can compete with a prince or princess.
The potential of having The Queen and the other members of the Royal Family to advance the diplomatic and other policies of the Realms other than the United Kingdom has been little investigated or exploited, except perhaps by Canada.
Every so often, an Australian republican, sometimes a politician, will whinge about some member of the Royal Family doing something for the UK. But The Queen and members of the Royal Family regularly perform various functions for Australia, New Zealand, and especially Canada –without it may be noted, any remuneration.
That they do not do more, for example in trade, is the fault of the politicians and of the politicians alone. Surely they understand that a member of the Royal Family advancing some Australian interest would probably be more effective than a politician - especially the republican variety whose principal ability appears to be able to whinge the loudest ?
In addition, it is an elementary proposition, one which any politician ought to know, that the Royal Family can only act when invited.
If they don’t understand this elementary principle of our constitutional system, they shouldn’t be in politics. Instead of whinging, they should see that invitations to advance our interests are made, and made regularly.