At any given moment, millions of eyes are on Britain’s royal family. Fans are enthralled by the Queen’s public appearances, Prince Harry’s and Prince William’s weddings, and each royal birth that adds a new chapter to English history. Still, one fascinating royal storyline flies under the radar.
Prince Philip has stood by the Queen’s side for as long as just about anyone can remember. However, he’s done a whole lot more than marry one of the most powerful women in the world. For close to a century, he has shaped history as we know it!
Most royal fans are so amazed by the longevity of Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage that they don’t realize the couple is actually related! Both are descended from Queen Victoria, making them third cousins. Then again, no one would’ve predicted these two would end up together.
Born on the Greek Island of Mon Repos, Philip started off as a Prince of both Greece and Denmark. His family had to flee his birthplace after Turkey took over much of the country. Barely a toddler at the time, Philip remembers little of his native language.
Philip first met Elizabeth at the wedding of his cousin, Princess Marina of Greece. He was 13 and the future Queen was just 8. Naturally, they did not kindle any sort of romantic relationship until many years later.
Not one to shy away from duty, Philip served in the Royal Navy during WWII. He witnessed some truly historic moments too, including Japan’s 1945 surrender in Tokyo Bay, which officially ended the conflict.
When Philip became a naturalized British citizen, he adopted Mountenbattan — the anglicized version of his mother’s maiden name — as his surname. Most people have never heard it because Parliament later ruled that Windsor would remain the last name of the royal family.
In the months before he and Elizabeth married, Philip had a mere 15 cents to his name at the time. So, for a wedding gift, he took a tiara of his mother’s and had it refashioned into a bracelet. The Queen has proudly worn it for decades.
When Elizabeth learned that she’d ascended to the throne, the news came from Philip himself. They were on holiday in Kenya during the passing of her ailing father, King George VI, in 1952. Elizabeth then returned home for his funeral as Queen.
Philip’s behavior on the day Charles was born made a lot of people scratch their heads. After spending the afternoon playing squash with a friend, he finally visited Elizabeth and their son in the hospital. He then quipped that Charles looked like “a plum pudding.”
We only get brief glimpses of how the royal family treats each other. However, researchers for the 2006 film The Queen uncovered one eye-opening secret. Philip has a special pet name for his wife: “Cabbage!” And he’s said far more outrageous things than that…
Whether he’s out-of-touch or just has an offbeat sense of humor, Philip is famous for making insensitive remarks. Highlights include asking aboriginal Australians if they still threw spears at each other, and telling a teen he was too fat to be an astronaut.
Because he married into the monarchy, Philip can never become King under British law. Instead, he’s held the title of Consort of the Queen since 1952. He’s also the oldest male member of the British royal family in history!
Just because Philip doesn’t share the monarchy with Elizabeth doesn’t mean he has no influence — he’s no trophy husband. The Queen has credited him as her “constant strength and guide,” and one 1992 disaster proved just how valuable he was.
That year, a vicious fire broke out in Windsor Castle, damaging large sections of the royal family’s ancestral home. Philip took a lead role in restoring the residence, and after, he and the Queens started paying an income tax to help with funding.
Philip enjoys ruling the skies as much as his kingdom. The Prince earned his wings in the Royal Air Force in 1953, and he’s since got thousands of miles of airtime under his belt. He’s flown all types of crafts too, including helicopters.
Even after his Navy days were long over, Philip had a love for all things nautical. His cherished voyages aboard the Brittania, the royal yacht, saw him circumnavigate the Earth and become the first royal to sail through the Arctic.
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Airplanes and luxury yachts aside, Philip’s favorite way to travel might just be atop a carriage. After he had to give up polo, he took up carriage racing as a hobby. It developed into a fairly popular pastime in the United Kingdom from there.
Never one to sit still, Philip has authored 14 books over his lifetime. Most of his works deal with the environment and the outdoors. That’s no surprise, since his biggest passions in life include hiking, fishing, and bird-watching.
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Philip’s artistic ambitions also extend to painting, in which he exercises an impressionistic style. One of his most notable works is a portrait of his wife from 1957 entitled, Her Majesty the Queen at Breakfast.
Well into his 90s, Philip insisted on driving himself. He and the Queen even cruised around with the Obamas when they visited London in 2016. However, Philip reluctantly gave up his license in 2019 after he caused a serious auto collision.
In the summer of 2017, the 96-year-old Philip announced that he would retire from public life. Although he ceased making official visits and speeches, he still attended key royal events, including Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle.
In terms of royal intrigue, Philip may only be rivaled by his son and spitting image, Prince Charles. As he’s waited over 70 years to take the throne, Charles has led quite the interesting life.
Believe it or not, Charles has a soft spot for the common squirrel. Prince William has admitted that his father has named many of the critters around their Scottish estate, and that Charles even lets his favorites into their home.
Although reporters called Charles and Diana’s marriage “The Wedding of the Century,” he didn’t quite agree. Some reports say he wept the night before the ceremony! Whatever lingering doubts the couple had eventually caused them to separate in 1992.
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Charles’ prize possession is an Aston Martin DB6 MKII, which he got as a 21st birthday present. In 2018, he added an interesting upgrade. Charles made the car more eco-friendly in that it no longer runs on gasoline, but on wine.
Whether he’s presiding over a formal event or lounging in the countryside, the Prince of Wales always dresses to the nines. His fashion sense is so admired that Esquire magazine dubbed him the “World’s Best-Dressed Man” in 2009.
It’s fortunate that Charles has a personal chef at his disposal because he’s quite the picky eater. For example, he’ll only eat eggs that have been boiled for exactly seven minutes. When he visits friends, he’ll often bring his own food rather than accept their hospitality.
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Charles has a fondness for the queen in Buckingham Palace and the ones in a deck of cards! A decently skilled magician, he passed an official examination to join the Magic Circle — a social organization of magicians — in 1975.
Many nobles are patrons of the arts, but Charles cuts out the middleman and does his own paintings! Critics haven’t treated his work with much warmth, but he does sell them for a good cause. He donates all the proceeds to charity.
While at university, Charles developed a huge crush on Barbra Streisand. Being a prince and all, he naturally had the chance to meet her a few times over the years. Rumors of an affair between the two bounced around, but there is no official proof.
An adamant lover of nature, Charles doesn’t just cultivate plants — he also talks to them! Charles has explained that he believes the odd habit helps his garden flourish. He’ll even threaten to toss plants on the compost heap if they don’t flower!
Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch in 2015, so it makes sense that Charles is also the longest-serving heir to the throne. He’s been waiting since 1953, and he wants it as badly as ever in his old age.
Before Charles fell for Diana, he actually dated her sister Sarah for a short time. Their relationship ended when Sarah expressed she had absolutely zero interest in marrying the Prince of Wales.
Like any sensible Briton, Charles is a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. He regularly reads the J.K. Rowling books to his grandchildren, and he even gives a different voice to each character! Now that’s an audiobook that we’d like to hear.
You probably know that it’s not unusual for members of various royal families to find out they’re related. However, Charles has one surprising royal relation. It turns out he’s descended from Vlad the Impaler, a medieval ruler who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Charles’ outspoken support for homeopathic medicine has generated a fair amount of controversy. Doctors in the United Kingdom bristle whenever he encourages their health system to embrace more alternative treatments, like herbal products, that have no proven benefits.
Years ago, Charles discovered that Prince Harry was drinking and smoking marijuana at school. To stop him from going down the wrong path, Charles sent his son to rehab for a day. The shocking experience made him drop his bad habits for good.
Charles has a contentious relationship with his father. Prince Philip pressured him into many big life events, including his attendance of Gordonstoun boarding school and his marriage to Diana Spencer. While Charles is a bleeding-heart romantic, Philip is a proud pragmatist.
Despite his struggles with his father, Charles was extremely close to his grandmother, the Queen Mother. While Philip often criticized Charles’ decisions, she took a supportive stance. When she passed away in 2002, Charles remarked that she meant everything to him.
Charles is a royal, but he’s no Marie Antoinette. He works tirelessly to help the less fortunate and preserve his nation’s history. His myriad of charity efforts raise over $100 million each year.
Did you know that Charles is also a published author? In 1984, he came out with a children’s book entitled, The Old Man of Lochnagar. The story centers around an elderly man who lives in a cave near the royal estate in Balmoral, Scotland.
Perhaps because of his picky eating habits, Charles started his own organic food company. Duchy Originals first hit the shelves in 1990 and has been going strong ever since. Of course, Charles donates a lion’s share of the profits to charity.
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