“Prince Philip, husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, dies at 99,” read most major news headlines this past Friday morning. A very long life that was very well-lived, is how I would describe Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
We go through years of school learning different cultures, different governments, different ways of living – one example of all three is how England differs so dramatically from the U.S in its governing structure. In recent years, the main headlines of England have surrounded the grandchildren of the Queen, their marriages and children, homes, and status. These events have all seen significant change creating bold headlines and shocking the world. But now, the headline is of Prince Philip himself, and his passing at nearly 100 years old.
Despite being born into a royal family, Philip’s early childhood was not a typically royal one. Born June 10, 1921, on the Greek island of Corfu, he was the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Greece’s king (Philip’s uncle) was forced to renounce the throne when Philip was a baby, and as a result, the family fled to Paris, with Phillip very famously being carried in a crib made from an orange box. When he was 7, he moved into Kensington Palace, now home to Prince William. He would soon attend Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland.
At 18, he joined the Royal Navy and graduated from the Britannia Royal Naval College as a top cadet. He saw active duty from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, and at the end of World War II in 1945, he was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered. A highly distinguished military career, he held many titles including “Admiral of the Fleet” (the highest rank of the Royal Navy), “Marshall of the Royal Air Force” (the highest rank in the British Royal Air Forms), and “Captain General Royal Marines” (the head of the Royal Marines).
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth met in 1934 when she was 13 and he was 18. After the Second World War (1945), he was granted permission by King George VI (Elizabeth’s father), to marry her and they wed in 1947. Just before their wedding, he was granted the style “His Royal Highness” when “Duke of Edinburgh” was created for Philip by Elizabeth’s father. Not long after their wedding, Philip left the military service and Elizabeth became queen in 1952. They have four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
So now what? How does the aging of the royal family play out? Who is in line for The Queen’s spot with her inevitable and eventual passing? Prince Charles, the eldest son of Philip and Elizabeth, is first in line to succeed the crown. Then, Prince William is next in line for the title, followed by his eldest son, Prince George. The six-year-old royal–as the firstborn to Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge–is third in line to the British throne.
Queen Elizabeth has reigned for 69 years and is currently 94 years old. Chances are in the next few years we’ll likely see Prince Charles take the throne. Questions will arise; what will change once Elizabeth is gone? How, if at all, will life change in England? A country that runs deep and rich in traditions, will likely see little to no change at all. History books will change. News headlines will change, but monarchy traditions will continue.