What did the queen mother die of?
Prince Philip has died at the age of 99
He always seemed to have fallen out of time, and sometimes he fell out of the protocol. The German Philip at the court of the Windsors - officially the Duke of Edinburgh - accompanied the British royals for decades "politically incorrect". What gave rise to criticism for some was beneficial for others.
"The Hun" was what Queen Mum, his mother-in-law, dubbed him over and over again at the beginning - and not just for joke. Two years after the end of World War II, the marriage of Philip of German descent to Elizabeth, who later became Queen, in 1947 was considered extremely sensitive for the British royal family.
Best supporting role
Formally, Philip was a Danish and a Greek prince, but also a German. One whose compatriots had dropped bombs on Westminster Abbey, the church where he married Elizabeth on November 20, 1947. He, the prince without land or home. But according to Elizabeth a gentleman.
Wedding couple Elizabeth and Philip (1947): Extremely sensitive for the royal family
Prince Philip has found and occupied the small niches that strict protocol - as a husband always one step behind the Queen - allowed him. It wasn't just humor that he used to fill what was probably the most important supporting role that marriage had given him. He let it crack sometimes too. Especially verbally.
He greeted Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the 1997 Hanover Fair with the words: "Good afternoon, Mr. Reich Chancellor." This is also guaranteed: He shouldn't drive so fast, a co-driver once warned him from the back seat of the royal limousine. If she criticized his driving style again, he would stop and she could walk home, said Philip. After that there was silence. It was the Queen who let herself be disgraced like that.
To endure fate with irony
But he also mastered the fine irony. "My wife has a PhD in philosophy, she is much more important than me," a man in Australia told him. "We have the problem in our family too," countered Philip smugly.
With targeted little sarcasms, he was able to upgrade his modest supporting role at court again and again. As the unofficial "King of Comedy" he was always applauded and boos. As with the calculated provocation on a state visit to Paraguay under dictator Alfredo Stroessner. He had provoked him with the sottise that he would like to be back in a country where the people do not have the say. The subtle political joke, also a hobby of the prince.
The British Royal Family (1954): Small niches in strict protocol
But Philip also had to put up with a lot. As half a German, he could not count on a leap of faith. When he set up a scholarship program for young people in 1956, the then British Education Minister David Eccles contacted him with the evil words: "I hear you want to start a Hitler Youth."
The mixture of exemplary attitude and loose mouth was his trademark. As a royal, he set new standards and provided the British royal family with a high level of entertainment. For many, a pleasant contrast to the perfectly shaped queen, who embodies duty and reticence.
At home in Europe and yet homeless
His pre-royal life was also unusual. Born in Corfu in 1921 as the "Prince of Greece and Denmark", he had to leave the country as a toddler because of the Turkish-Greek war. His noble family broke up in exile in Paris. The father lived from then on with a lover in Cannes, the mother Alice von Battenberg, a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, spent the rest of her life in sanatoriums. His four older sisters all married German princes. It was the mother's British relatives who took care of Philip.
They sent him to the best European boarding schools. The royal family historian Andrew Marr summed up the personality of Philips: renouncing self-pity, believing in the factual, provocative angularity, a well-hidden intellectuality and a love of nature.
So equipped, he started his brief British naval career without being a British citizen. At 18 he met Elizabeth, who was five years his junior, and they stayed in touch throughout the war. As early as 1946 he asked for her hand. His German, mostly Nazi relatives, were not wanted at the wedding.
Real scandals from married life either did not exist or they perished in the discretionary web of the court. However, Philips' rhetorical question is documented: "How can I ever be unfaithful to the Queen?" To give the answer yourself right away. "You could never defend yourself with the same coin."
Their life together was always built on regular separations, said the royal historian Robert Lacey. This supposedly included separate bedrooms at an early stage.
Elizabeth and Philip (2018): "You can also go home on foot"
What Philip shared passionately with the Queen was a love of horses. He couldn't do much with Elizabeth's corgis and commented on her pack of dogs accordingly.
Master of calculated provocation
Prince Philips' role was not an easy one. He felt like an amoeba, he confessed in the first years of marriage, when Elizabeth forbade him, for reasons of state, to give his children his family name Mountbatten. Nevertheless, he was always considered the head of the clan. She ruled the empire, he was head of the "Windsor Company".
In 2017, at the age of 96, he finally "retired" and handed over many official duties to the younger royals. "I think I did my part, so I want to have a little fun now," he said shortly after announcing his resignation. Over the decades he had made 637 overseas visits alone, made nearly 5,500 speeches, and served as patron, president or member of more than 780 organizations.
Now Prince Philip has died in Windsor at the age of 99, as announced by Buckingham Palace. With his death, the British monarchy not only lost the longest-serving husband in the history of the United Kingdom, but above all one of its greatest sympathizers.
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