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How Philip painstakingly planned his own funeral


Prince Philip’s extraordinary attention to detail will be on show at his funeral this Saturday as all his own minute preparations for the ceremony will be realised.

The Duke of Edinburgh‘s non-nonsense attitude in life will be mirrored in his death as the story of his incredible 99 years are remembered.

From the specially adapted landrover to the naval war cry played, it will be an occasion that will typify his tremendous spirit.

Perhaps the most striking part of the ceremony will come after he is lowered in his coffin into the Royal Vault.

On his own request, The Buglers of the Royal Marines will sound Action Stations in an unusual addition to the service. 

It is a very short horn melody that signifies call to action on naval warships.

Though the sound is not common at funerals, it can be requested by anyone associated with the Royal Navy. It will be played near to the end of the service. 

The Last Post will also be played to signify ‘a soldier has gone to his final rest’. 

Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy aged 17 and served on HMS Valiant during the Second World War – earning a mention in despatches for his ‘bravery and enterprise’ during a sea battle with the Italian fleet. 

A senior Palace official said: ‘Action Stations is a naval tradition and it is an announcement that would be made on a naval warship to signify that all hands, all those serving, on that warship should go into battle stations.’ 

Cushions with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s insignia on sewn in place in St James’s Palace

The medals and decorations conferred on him by the UK and Commonwealth countries - together with his Royal Air Force wings and Field Marshal’s baton, will be pre-positioned on nine cushions on the altar in St George’s Chapel

The medals and decorations conferred on him by the UK and Commonwealth countries – together with his Royal Air Force wings and Field Marshal’s baton, will be pre-positioned on nine cushions on the altar in St George’s Chapel

The medals and decorations were conferred on Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, by the United Kingdom and other countries across the world during his incredible life

The medals and decorations were conferred on Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, by the United Kingdom and other countries across the world during his incredible life

A close-up view of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh's British Empire Breast Star and Badge and the British Empire Collar.

A close-up view of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s British Empire Breast Star and Badge and the British Empire Collar.

The duke wanted the call to echo around the vast 15th century St George’s Chapel as his family gathered for his ceremonial royal farewell on Saturday.

Action Stations: The navy warcry which calls sailors to action 

Action Stations, sounded on naval warships to signal all hands must go to battle stations, will be played at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Philip’s specific request.

Buglers of the Royal Marines will perform the wartime alert, a tradition sometimes associated with naval funerals, in honour of Philip’s active service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

The Last Post will also be played to signify ‘a soldier has gone to his final rest’.

A senior Palace official said: ‘Action Stations is a naval tradition and it is an announcement that would be made on a naval warship to signify that all hands, all those serving, on that warship should go into battle stations.’

The duke wanted the call to echo around the vast 15th century St George’s Chapel as his family gathered for his ceremonial royal farewell on Saturday.

A Palace spokesman said: ‘I think it just goes to show the level of detail that the duke went into around his own funeral service.

‘It is a fitting testimony to remind many people who might not realise that the duke saw active service in the Second World War aboard a ship in the Royal Navy.’

The official added: ‘The Last Post bugle call signifies the end of the day’s activities, or, on this occasion, that a soldier has gone to his final rest.’

Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy aged 17 and served on HMS Valiant during the Second World War – earning a mention in despatches for his ‘bravery and enterprise’ during a sea battle with the Italian fleet. 

 

A Palace spokesman said: ‘I think it just goes to show the level of detail that the duke went into around his own funeral service.

‘It is a fitting testimony to remind many people who might not realise that the duke saw active service in the Second World War aboard a ship in the Royal Navy.’

The official added: ‘The Last Post bugle call signifies the end of the day’s activities, or, on this occasion, that a soldier has gone to his final rest.’

It is just one part of the day showing the incredible planning the Duke put into the poignant day. 

Philip also personally selected the regalia that will be on the altar for his funeral and give an insight into the thinking of the Royal and what mattered to him.

His chosen insignia, the medals and decorations conferred on him by the UK and Commonwealth countries – together with his Royal Air Force wings and Field Marshal’s baton, will be pre-positioned on nine cushions on the altar in St George’s Chapel.

The duke also included insignia from Denmark and Greece – Order of the Elephant and Order of the Redeemer respectively – in a nod to his birth heritage as a Prince of Greece and Denmark.

Insignia, orders, decorations and medals are a way of a country saying thank you and recognising someone’s achievements.

Stephen Segrave, Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, said: ‘There will be nine cushions with insignia placed on pre-positioned around the altar at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

‘They represent British and Commonwealth orders and decorations, and the final cushion with orders from Greece and Denmark, for obvious reasons.

‘The Duke of Edinburgh had, I think, 61 decorations and awards from 53 different other countries, and there simply just wasn’t the space to have them all on display at the funeral.’

Asked how it was decided what would go on display, Mr Segrave said: ‘I think if you have to draw the line somewhere, the line was drawn at Commonwealth orders and decorations, and those two countries that are appropriate to the Duke of Edinburgh.

‘And he certainly had a hand in planning his arrangements, so he would have made the decision himself.’

Mr Segrave said the chosen insignia would have ‘absolutely’ meant a great deal to Philip. 

A maximum of 30 people can attend the funeral because of coronavirus restrictions

A maximum of 30 people can attend the funeral because of coronavirus restrictions

The bugler leading The Last Post at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, Sergeant Jamie Ritchie

The bugler leading The Last Post at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, Sergeant Jamie Ritchie

Diane Hatcher, a seamstress at Cleave Court Jewellers, sews medals and decorations conferred on Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, ahead of his funeral on Saturday

Diane Hatcher, a seamstress at Cleave Court Jewellers, sews medals and decorations conferred on Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, ahead of his funeral on Saturday

The Duke of Edinburgh's RAF Wings sewn onto a cushion in St James's Palace, London

The Duke of Edinburgh’s RAF Wings sewn onto a cushion in St James’s Palace, London

Cushions with the Duke of Edinburgh's insignia sewn into place in St James's Palace, London

Cushions with the Duke of Edinburgh’s insignia sewn into place in St James’s Palace, London

The plans for Philip’s funeral – codenamed Forth Bridge – have been in place for many years, and were updated and reviewed regularly by Buckingham Palace staff in consultation with the Queen and the duke.

The Duke’s medals 

Queen’s Service Order, New Zealand 

1939-1945 Star

Atlantic Star

Africa Star

Burma Star

Italy Star

War Medal 1939-1945

King George VI Coronation Medal

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal

Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal

Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

Royal Navy Long Service & Good Conduct 

Canadian Forces Decoration

New Zealand Commemoration Medal

Malta George Cross 50th Anniversary Medal

The insignia are sewn in place on the cushions with fishing wire as it is see-through and therefore tends not to show up in the way coloured thread would.

The regalia was sewn on to the cushions at St James’s Palace by two seamstresses, including Diane Hatcher from Cleave Court Jewellers, earlier this week.  

Among the chosen pieces are the Order of the Garter which consists of a collar made out of 22 carat gold, a badge with Saint George slaying the dragon known as the greater George, a sash with a badge called the lesser George, a breast star with the motto of the order, ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’, which translates as ‘Evil to him who evil thinks’, and the garter itself.

Others include the Royal Victorian Order collar and badge, British Empire collar and Grand Masters badge, Royal Victorian Chain and Order of Merit.

The Order of Merit is restricted to 24 members and is awarded in recognition of outstanding service in the Armed Forces, science, literature, art and the promotion of culture. 

One particular cushion has the Field Marshal’s baton – the most senior appointment in the British Army – next to Philip’s RAF wings.

A qualified pilot, the duke gained his RAF wings in 1953, helicopter wings in 1956 and private pilot’s licence in 1959.

Insignia on display from across the Commonwealth will include the Order of Australian Knight, Order of New Zealand, Order of Canada, Canada Order of Military Merit, Papua New Guinea Order of Logohu, Zanzibar Brilliant Star of Zanzibar, Brunei Esteemed Family Order, and Singapore Order of Darjah Utama Temasek. 

The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral will reflect all of his achievements and Armed Forces ties

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral will reflect all of his achievements and Armed Forces ties

His work on the bespoke Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab begun in 2003, the year he turned 82, and was finished aged 98 in 2019

His work on the bespoke Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab begun in 2003, the year he turned 82, and was finished aged 98 in 2019

Two days before his funeral, the custom-made Land Rover designed by the Duke is unveiled

Two days before his funeral, the custom-made Land Rover designed by the Duke is unveiled

The open top rear has been modified to fit his coffin and equipped with special rubber grips on silver pins - known as the 'stops' - to keep it secure while it makes the journey through Windsor to St George's Chapel

The open top rear has been modified to fit his coffin and equipped with special rubber grips on silver pins – known as the ‘stops’ – to keep it secure while it makes the journey through Windsor to St George’s Chapel

Two days before his funeral on Saturday, the custom-made Land Rover designed by the Duke has also been unveiled for the first time.

His work on the bespoke Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab begun in 2003, the year he turned 82, and was finished aged 98 in 2019.

Prince Philip’s family 

Born a Prince of Greece and Denmark, Philip was the fifth child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and his wife, Princess Alice of Battenberg. He survived his sisters: 

  • Princess Margarita (1905-1981)
  • Princess Theodora (1906–1969)
  • Princess Cecilie (1911- 1937)
  • Princess Sophie (1914-2001)

The open top rear has been modified to fit his coffin and equipped with special rubber grips on silver pins – known as the ‘stops’ – to keep it secure while it makes the journey through Windsor to St George’s Chapel.  

A military man to his core, Philip also requested the original Belize Green paintwork was changed to Dark Bronze Green like those used by the armed forces. 

The duke was mentioned in despatches for his service during the war.

He was a midshipman aboard HMS Valiant off the southern coast of Greece when he earned his honourable citation.

A young naval officer, he was praised for his actions in the decisive Battle of Cape Matapan against the Italian fleet in March 1941.

Philip had been in control of the searchlights as the ship battled an Italian cruiser when he spotted an unexpected second enemy vessel nearby.

At the age of 21, Philip was one of the youngest officers in the Royal Navy to be made First Lieutenant and second-in-command of a ship, the destroyer escort HMS Wallace of the Rosyth Escort Force.

In July 1943, Wallace was dispatched to the Mediterranean and provided cover for the Canadian beachhead of the Allied landings in Sicily.

Philip also served as First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Whelp in the Pacific, where he helped to rescue two airmen in 1945.

Had the duke not married Princess Elizabeth, some believe he would have been First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy.

He once spoke of his fascination with the sea in a rare interview in 1998 to mark his 50 years as trustee of the National Maritime Museum.

Referring to it as ‘an extraordinary master or mistress’, he declared: ‘It has such extraordinary moods that sometimes you feel this is the only sort of life and 10 minutes later you’re praying for death.’

The Duke and his medals: How Prince Philip was awarded for wartime heroics and Royal duties during his distinguished military career… that he gave up when he married the Queen

Prince Philip’s attachment to the Armed Forces predated even his 73-year marriage to his beloved wife the Queen.

The Duke of Edinburgh – who has died at the age of 99 – was highly-decorated during his distinguished military career – which he gave up in 1953 when the Queen ascended the throne.

He joined the Royal Navy in 1939 and, by 1942, had risen to the rank of First Lieutenant after bravely fighting in the Battle of Crete and the conflict at Cape Matapan.

He was decorated for bravery during his Naval service in the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans. 

These included the War Medal 1939-1945, which came with a mention in dispatches for his ‘alertness’ in helping to spot enemy ships.

Some believed he could have become First Sea Lord – the professional head of the Royal Navy.

But the Duke stepped down from his active role in the forces to fulfil his duty as the Queen’s consort.

In recognition of his long-standing connection with the Royal Navy, the Queen conferred the title of Lord High Admiral on the Duke to mark his 90th birthday in June 2011.

He proudly displayed his medals awarded for bravery in the military and service to the Queen during official events.

Prince Philip's glittering career saw him amass a chestful of medals which he proudly displayed at numerous functions. They included decorations for bravery in the 1939-45 war. Pictured: The Duke attending a service at Westminster Abbey in 2015

Prince Philip’s glittering career saw him amass a chestful of medals which he proudly displayed at numerous functions. They included decorations for bravery in the 1939-45 war. Pictured: The Duke attending a service at Westminster Abbey in 2015

While serving on HMS Whelp, the future Queen's consort was even there in Tokyo Bay to witness the historic surrender of Japanese forces in September 1945. Pictured: Philip (front row, second from left) with his fellow officers on HMS Whelp

While serving on HMS Whelp, the future Queen’s consort was even there in Tokyo Bay to witness the historic surrender of Japanese forces in September 1945. Pictured: Philip (front row, second from left) with his fellow officers on HMS Whelp

He was decorated (his medals, pictured) for bravery during his Naval service in the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans. These included the War Medal 1939-1945 , which came with a mention in dispatches for his ‘alertness’ in helping to spot enemy ships

Some believed he could have become First Sea Lord - the professional head of the Royal Navy. But the Duke stepped down from his active role in the forces to fulfil his duty as the Queen's consort (pictured together)

Some believed he could have become First Sea Lord – the professional head of the Royal Navy. But the Duke stepped down from his active role in the forces to fulfil his duty as the Queen’s consort (pictured together)

Queen's Service Order, New Zealand: On November 15, 1981, Prince Philip was awarded the Queen's Service Order by the Government of New Zealand for service to the country

Queen’s Service Order, New Zealand: On November 15, 1981, Prince Philip was awarded the Queen’s Service Order by the Government of New Zealand for service to the country

His medals – worn from left to right across his chest – were:  

Queen’s Service Order, New Zealand

On November 15, 1981, Prince Philip was awarded the Queen’s Service Order by the Government of New Zealand for service to the country.

The flower-shaped medal is the first worn on Prince Philip’s chest.

The order was established on March 13, 1975, and is used to recognise ‘valuable voluntary service to the community or meritorious and faithful services to the Crown or similar services within the public sector, whether in elected or appointed office’. 

The order replaced the Imperial Service Order in New Zealand following a 1974 review of New Zealand’s honour system.

1939-1945 Star 

This star is a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth awarded for service during the Second World War.

It was put in place on July 8, 1943, and was awarded for specific periods of military service between September 3, 1939, and either May 8, 1945, in Europe or September 2, 1945, in the far east.

Those in the Navy had to spent 180 at sea to be awarded the medal.

1939-1945 Star: This star is a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth awarded for service during the Second World War

1939-1945 Star: This star is a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth awarded for service during the Second World War

Atlantic Star 

In May 1945, Prince Philip was awarded the military campaign medal the Atlantic star.

It was for service during the Battle of the Atlantic – World War II’s longest campaign. 

Atlantic Star: In May 1945, Prince Philip was awarded the military campaign medal the Atlantic star

Africa Star: Prince Philip was awarded on July 8, 1943, for service in Africa during the Second World War

Atlantic Star (let): In May 1945, Prince Philip was awarded the military campaign medal the Atlantic star. Africa Star (right): Prince Philip was awarded on July 8, 1943, for service in Africa during the Second World War

Africa Star

Prince Philip was awarded the Africa Star on July 8, 1943, for service in Africa during the Second World War.

The medal was awarded to those who served in North Africa between June 10, 1940, and May 12, 1943. 

Burma Star (with Pacific Rosette)

In May 1945, he was awarded the Burma Star for service in the Burma Campaign in the Second World War 

The Burma Star awards British and Commonwealth forces who served in the Burma Campaign from 1941 to 1945. 

He also wore the Pacific clasp on the Star for his service in the Pacific. 

Philip was the First Lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Whelp and was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender agreement with Allied forces.

Speaking in 1995 about his time on the ship, Philip described his experience of watching the Japanese capitulate.

Burma Star (with Pacific Rosette): In May 1945, he was awarded the Burma Star for service in the Burma Campaign in the Second World War

Burma Star (with Pacific Rosette): In May 1945, he was awarded the Burma Star for service in the Burma Campaign in the Second World War

‘Being in Tokyo Bay with the surrender ceremony taking place on a battleship which was what, 200 yards away? You could see what was going on with a pair of binoculars.

‘It was a great relief. And I remember because from there we went on to Hong Kong. And the most extraordinary sensation when we sailed because we realised we didn’t have to darken ship anymore.

‘We didn’t have to close all the scuttles. We didn’t have to turn the lights out. So you suddenly… all these little things built up to suddenly feeling that life was different.

HMS Whelp then took in prisoners of war who had been held in horrendous conditions by the Japanese.

Italy Star

The Italy Star was awarded for Prince Phillip’s service in Italy and surrounding areas in the Second World War.

While serving on HMS Wallace, during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, Philip helped to save his ship from a night bomber attack by launching a raft with smoke floats.

These distracted the bombers, allowing the ship to slip away unnoticed.

Italy Star: The Italy Star was awarded for Prince Phillip's service in Italy and surrounding areas in the Second World War

Italy Star: The Italy Star was awarded for Prince Phillip’s service in Italy and surrounding areas in the Second World War

War Medal 1939-1945, with Mention in Dispatches 

The medal was awarded to those who served in the Armed Forces or Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 1939-45. 

The oak leaf on the ribbon denotes the Mention in Despatches which the Duke received for his ‘alertness’ in helping to spot enemy ships.

War Medal 1939-1945, with Mention in Dispatches: The medal was awarded to those who served in the Armed Forces or Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 1939-45

War Medal 1939-1945, with Mention in Dispatches: The medal was awarded to those who served in the Armed Forces or Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 1939-45

King George VI Coronation Medal, 1937

These medals were made to commemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the current Queen Elizabeth’s parents.

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, 1953

A commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, 1977

A commemorative medal created in 1977 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.

Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, 2002

A commemorative medal created in 2002 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012

A commemorative medal created to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. 

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012: A commemorative medal created to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012: A commemorative medal created to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne

Canadian Forces Decoration (4 Bars)

This honorary award was presented to the Duke in April 2015.

New Zealand Commemoration Medal, 1990

This was awarded only during 1990 to around 3,000 people in recognition of contributions made to New Zealand life.

Malta George Cross 50th Anniversary Medal, 1992

This is a commemorative medal awarded by, or in the name of, the President of Malta.

Greek War Cross, 1950

This is awarded for heroism in wartime to both Greeks and foreign allies. The Duke earned his for his bravery in fighting the Italians when they invaded Greece in 1941.

Croix de Guerre (France) with Palm, 1948

A French military decoration to honour people who fought with the Allies against Axis nations in the Second World War. 

 

It wasn't just on water where Philip put his military credentials to good use – he trained to be a pilot with the RAF and by the time he gave up flying in 1997, at the age of 76, he had completed 5,986 hours of time in the sky in 59 different aircraft

It wasn’t just on water where Philip put his military credentials to good use – he trained to be a pilot with the RAF and by the time he gave up flying in 1997, at the age of 76, he had completed 5,986 hours of time in the sky in 59 different aircraft

His glittering Navy career

It was after leaving Gordonstoun school that Philip joined the Royal Navy. His training began at Britannia Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth, in May 1939 – three months before Britain declared war on Nazi Germany.

The athletic and talented prince was singled out as best cadet and, after war did break out, Philip firstly served on the battleship HMS Ramillies in 1940.

The next year, in March 1941, he was serving as a searchlight control officer on the battleship HMS Valiant when he was Mentioned in Dispatches for his part in the Battle of Cape Matapan against Italian forces off the Greek coast.

British and Australian ships under the command of Admiral Cunningham decisively defeated their opponents.

Whilst just four Allied seamen were killed and only four light cruiser ships damaged, the enemy lost more than 2,000 men and five of their ships were sunk.

Philip’s role on board HMS Valiant was to pick out ships in the darkness using the ship’s spotlight.

Writing in the foreword to a 2012 book about the battle, Philip said: ‘I seem to remember that I reported I had a target in sight, and was ordered to ‘open shutter’.

It was after leaving Gordonstoun school that Philip joined the Royal Navy. His training began at Britannia Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth, in May 1939 – three months before Britain declared war on Nazi Germany. Pictured: HMS Whelp, which Prince Philip served on

It was after leaving Gordonstoun school that Philip joined the Royal Navy. His training began at Britannia Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth, in May 1939 – three months before Britain declared war on Nazi Germany. Pictured: HMS Whelp, which Prince Philip served on

The then Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, prior to his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, working at his desk after returning to his Royal Navy duties at the Petty Officers Training Centre in Corsham, Wiltshire, August 1st 1947

The then Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, prior to his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, working at his desk after returning to his Royal Navy duties at the Petty Officers Training Centre in Corsham, Wiltshire, August 1st 1947

Philip (fifth from left, front row) at the Royal Navy Petty Officer's School in Corsham, Wiltshire, in 1947. Philip distinguished himself in his service in the Second World War

Philip (fifth from left, front row) at the Royal Navy Petty Officer’s School in Corsham, Wiltshire, in 1947. Philip distinguished himself in his service in the Second World War

While serving as First Lieutenant on HMS Whelp, Philip was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender agreement with Allied forces. Speaking in 1995, Philip said: ‘Being in Tokyo Bay with the surrender ceremony taking place on a battleship which was what? 200 yards away. You could see what was going on with a pair of binoculars’

‘The beam lit up a stationary cruiser, but we were so close by then that the beam only lit up half the ship.

‘At this point all hell broke loose, as all our eight 15-inch guns, plus those of the flagship and Barham’s started firing at the stationary cruiser, which disappeared in an explosion and a cloud of smoke.

‘I was then ordered to ‘train left’ and lit up another Italian cruiser, which was given the same treatment.

‘The next morning the battle fleet returned to the scene of the battle, while attempts were made to pick up survivors. This was rudely interrupted by an attack by German bombers.

‘The return to Alexandria was uneventful, and the peace and quiet was much appreciated.’

However, he added playfully: ‘All these events took place 70 years ago, and, as most elderly people have discovered, memories tend to fade’, and that witness accounts needed to be treated as ‘faction’ – a blend of fact and fiction’.

As well as being Mentioned in Dispatches by his commander Admiral Cunningham, Philip was also awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.

Cunningham said: ‘Thanks to his alertness and appreciation of the situation, we were able to sink in five minutes two eight-inch gun Italian cruisers.’

At the age of just 21, Philip then moved up through Navy ranks to become First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Wallace.

He was the youngest officer in the service to have an executive job in a ship of its size.

In 1947, two years after the end of the war, Philip married the then Princess Elizabeth. They moved to Malta in 1949 and lived there for two years – a period which they saw as among the happiest of their lives. Pictured: The couple during their honeymoon in Malta in 1947

In 1947, two years after the end of the war, Philip married the then Princess Elizabeth. They moved to Malta in 1949 and lived there for two years – a period which they saw as among the happiest of their lives. Pictured: The couple during their honeymoon in Malta in 1947

While in Malta, Philip was First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Chequers, while Princess Elizabeth was a happy naval wife and mother – first to Charles in 1949 and then Anne in 1950

While in Malta, Philip was First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Chequers, while Princess Elizabeth was a happy naval wife and mother – first to Charles in 1949 and then Anne in 1950 

Prince Philip pictured on board HMS Magpie in the Mediterranean, in the summer of 1951, when he was in command of the ship

Prince Philip pictured on board HMS Magpie in the Mediterranean, in the summer of 1951, when he was in command of the ship

The Duke of Edinburgh and Captain John Edwin Home McBeath DSO, DSC, RN (left), pose with Queen Elizabeth for a photograph on HMS Chequers, where Philip served as First Lieutenant

The Duke of Edinburgh and Captain John Edwin Home McBeath DSO, DSC, RN (left), pose with Queen Elizabeth for a photograph on HMS Chequers, where Philip served as First Lieutenant

While serving on HMS Wallace, during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, Philip helped to save his ship from a night bomber attack by launching a raft with smoke floats.

These distracted the bombers, allowing the ship to slip away unnoticed.

Philip was then appointed the First Lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Whelp and was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender agreement with Allied forces.

Speaking in 1995 about his time on the ship, Philip described his experience of watching the Japanese capitulate.

‘Being in Tokyo Bay with the surrender ceremony taking place on a battleship which was what, 200 yards away? You could see what was going on with a pair of binoculars.

‘It was a great relief. And I remember because from there we went on to Hong Kong. And the most extraordinary sensation when we sailed because we realised we didn’t have to darken ship anymore.

‘We didn’t have to close all the scuttles. We didn’t have to turn the lights out. So you suddenly… all these little things built up to suddenly feeling that life was different.

HMS Whelp then took in prisoners of war who had been held in horrendous conditions by the Japanese.

In the same 1995 interview, Philip described how he and his men broke down in tears at the sight of the released prisoners accepting cups of tea.

‘These people were naval people. They were emaciated. And they set down in the mess, they were suddenly in an atmosphere which they recognised, they were back in the mess.

‘And the people, our ship’s company, also recognised that they were fellow sailors. And so we gave them a cup of tea but it was an extraordinary sensation because they just sat there.

‘I mean both sides, our own and them, tears pouring down their cheeks. They just drank their tea. They really couldn’t speak. It was the most extraordinary sensation.’

Months before the Japanese surrender, Philip helped to rescue two servicemen while serving on HMS Whelp.

The men – Roy ‘Gus’ Halliday (who went on to become Vice-Admiral Halliday) and Norman Richardson – had had to ditch into the ocean after the bomber was hit.

They had been returning from bombing the Songei Gerong oil refinery in Sumatra when the disaster occurred.

Fortunately for both men, the Whelp was on hand to rescue them from the water. The young Prince introduced himself as Lieutenant Philip and neither Halliday nor Richardson at first realised who he was.

It was only later, when the men went to Philip’s cabin and saw a photo of Princess Elizabeth that they made the connection.

In 2006, Philip met with Richardson at Buckingham Palace, where Philip joked, ‘It’s you again! Well, at least you’re dry this time.’

Speaking of the rescue, Philip recalled: ‘The decision to go and pick them up was, I suppose, ultimately made by the captain.

‘It was then up to the First Lieutenant to organise whatever needed to be done. ‘It was routine. If you found somebody in the sea you go and pick them up. End of story, so to speak.’

In 1947, two years after the end of the war, Philip married the then Princess Elizabeth.

They moved to Malta in 1949 and lived there for two years – a period which they saw as among the happiest of their lives.

While in Malta, Philip was First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Chequers, while Princess Elizabeth was a happy naval wife and mother – first to Charles in 1949 and then Anne in 1950.

In 1950, Philip was given control of the frigate HMS Magpie after being promoted to Lieutenant-Commander. He was nicknamed ‘Dukey’ by his men.

Giving up what he loved 

But Philip’s naval career had to come to an end when Princess Elizabeth’s father King George VI died in 1952 and she became Queen.

Speaking in an unusually candid interview in 2011, Philip admitted it was hard to turn his back on a life at sea after being asked by questioner Alan Titchmarsh.

‘Well, I mean, how long is a piece of string? I don’t know how difficult it was, it was naturally disappointing,’ he said.

But Philip's naval career had to come to an end when Princess Elizabeth's father King George VI died in 1952 and she became Queen. Pictured: Philip in 1953

But Philip’s naval career had to come to an end when Princess Elizabeth’s father King George VI died in 1952 and she became Queen. Pictured: Philip in 1953

After leaving the Navy, Philip held many honorary titles, including AdmAdmiral of the Fleet and was appointed Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force

After leaving the Navy, Philip held many honorary titles, including Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force, Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps, Admiral of the Fleet and Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. Pictured: Philip in 1969 visiting the Queen’s Royal Hussars regiment in Dorset

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, drinks whales teeth kava while watching traditional dancing on October 30, 1982 in Suva, Fiji, during a royal tour of the South Pacific

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, drinks whales teeth kava while watching traditional dancing on October 30, 1982 in Suva, Fiji, during a royal tour of the South Pacific

‘I had just been promoted to commander and the fact was that the most interesting part of my naval career was just starting.

‘But then equally, if I stopped and thought about it, being married to the Queen, it seemed to me my first duty was to serve her in the best way I could.’

Netflix drama The Crown depicted Philip’s frustration at having to stop his military activities.

The show’s creator Peter Morgan claimed the move led to ‘all sorts of tensions’.

‘He was forced to give up his career and become, as it were, her consort. And that led to all sorts of tensions, both within himself and within the marriage…’

He added: ‘I think he was quite reasonably expecting to have a long, successful career and reach the upper echelon of the Royal Navy.

‘But then King George became sick and died at age 56. This thing happens, bang, sooner than anyone would have expected.’

Taking to the skies 

Another period of Philip’s life depicted in The Crown was his training to be a pilot, which began in November 1952.

Likely in search of some of the enjoyment and meaning which he had taken from his Navy service, Philip began training in a De Havilland Chipmunk before moving on to a North American Harvard.

Both aircraft were produced for training would-be pilots.

At a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in May 1953, Philip was awarded his ‘wings’ by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Sir William Dickson.

Three years later, he gained his helicopter wings and in 1959, his private pilot’s licence.

In November 1952, likely in search of some of the enjoyment and meaning which he had taken from his Navy service, Philip began training to be a pilot. He started in a De Havilland Chipmunk before moving on to a North American Harvard. Pictured: The Duke gets out of a plane in May 1953 at White Waltham airfield

In November 1952, likely in search of some of the enjoyment and meaning which he had taken from his Navy service, Philip began training to be a pilot. He started in a De Havilland Chipmunk before moving on to a North American Harvard. Pictured: The Duke gets out of a plane in May 1953 at White Waltham airfield

At a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in May 1953, Philip was awarded his 'wings' by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Sir William Dickson. Three years later, he gained his helicopter wings and in 1959, his private pilot's licence. Pictured: Philip at the controls of a Trident jet airliner in 1964

The Duke of Edinburgh at the controls of the 'Beverly' Freighter Aircraft at Blackburn Aircraft Factory in 1956

At a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in May 1953, Philip was awarded his ‘wings’ by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Sir William Dickson. Three years later, he gained his helicopter wings and in 1959, his private pilot’s licence. Pictured left: Philip at the controls of a Trident jet airliner in 1964. Right: The Duke of Edinburgh at the controls of the ‘Beverly’ Freighter Aircraft at Blackburn Aircraft Factory in 1956

In March 1952, Philip piloted a jet aircraft for the first time, flying a Comet airliner from the De Havilland airfield in Hatfield, Hertfordshire

In March 1952, Philip piloted a jet aircraft for the first time, flying a Comet airliner from the De Havilland airfield in Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Philip embraced his new skill as a pilot and flew for 45 years, amassing 5,986 hours in 59 different aircraft. Pictured: Philip on the day in June 1958 that he flew a Vulcan H-bomber

Philip embraced his new skill as a pilot and flew for 45 years, amassing 5,986 hours in 59 different aircraft. Pictured: Philip on the day in June 1958 that he flew a Vulcan H-bomber

One dramatic, fictional scene in The Crown showed Philip following the 1969 moon landing flying a plane alongside a co-pilot.

Spotting the distant moon, he took the controls and flew straight towards it, much to his companion’s terror.

After eventually levelling off once more, he said, ‘we’ve also lived… just for a minute’.

Philip embraced his new skill as a pilot and flew for 45 years, amassing 5,986 hours in 59 different aircraft.

His final flight was at the age of 76, on August 11, 1997, when he flew from Carlisle to Islay.

The Prince’s desire to fly came despite the death of his sister Cecile in a plane crash when he was just 16.

Cecilie, who was eight months pregnant at the time, died along with her husband and two sons.

The Prince in uniform as a Queen's guard as his wife, the Queen, walks past and enjoys a giggle in April 2003

The Prince in uniform as a Queen’s guard as his wife, the Queen, walks past and enjoys a giggle in April 2003

Philip's love of the sea never waned, competing regularly at Cowes Regatta (above, in 1979). He was Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron, patron of a number of clubs and president of the Royal Yachting Association

Philip’s love of the sea never waned, competing regularly at Cowes Regatta (above, in 1979). He was Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron, patron of a number of clubs and president of the Royal Yachting Association

As Colonel-in-chief of the 1st Battalion Queen's own Cameron Highlanders, during his visit to the Battalion East Wretham Camp, near Thetford, Norfolk in in 1958

Philip in his naval uniform circa 1965

Philip during a visit to East Wretham Camp, near Thetford, Norfolk in 1958 (left) and in his Naval uniform around 1965 (right)

Despite the need to give up his military career, as part of his role as the husband of the monarch, Philip did hold honorary titles in all three wings of the military.

In 1952 he was appointed Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps.

The next year he was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet and was appointed Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

The Duke was also Colonel-in-Chief, or Colonel, of various British and overseas regiments.

Following in their father’s footsteps 

Philip’s sons – Charles, Andrew and Edward – have all followed in their father’s footsteps by spending time in the military.

Prince Edward spent three years in the Royal Marines as a University Cadet before leaving the Armed Forces after graduating.

Prince Andrew served for 22 years in the Royal Navy and saw active service as a helicopter pilot in the 1982 Falklands War.

Charles, Andrew and Edward – have all followed in their father's footsteps by spending time in the military. Charles jointed the Royal Air Force in March 1971 and gained his wings after a training period which saw him complete a parachute jump

Charles's parachute jump

Philip’s sons – Charles, Andrew and Edward – have all followed in their father’s footsteps by spending time in the military. Charles jointed the Royal Air Force in March 1971 and gained his wings after a training period which saw him complete a parachute jump (right)

Prince Andrew served for 22 years in the Royal Navy and saw active service as a helicopter pilot in the 1982 Falklands War

Prince Andrew served for 22 years in the Royal Navy and saw active service as a helicopter pilot in the 1982 Falklands War

Prince Edward spent three years in the Royal Marines as a University Cadet before leaving the Armed Forces after graduating

Prince Edward spent three years in the Royal Marines as a University Cadet before leaving the Armed Forces after graduating

As for Charles, in March 1971 he joined the Royal Air Force after gaining his private pilot’s licence a year earlier.

He gained his wings just five months later after completing a parachute jump.

Prince Philip was present to watch his son receive his wings at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire.

Charles then entered the Royal Navy where he served on ships including the destroyer HMS Norfolk and the frigate HMS Minerva.

In June 1994, Prince Charles was at the controls when a Queen’s Flight jet aircraft crashed after overshooting the runway while coming into land at Islay in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides.

Three tyres burst on the £10million ‘Whisper Jet’, which also suffered damage damaging to its nose cone, landing gear and weather radar.

Fortunately, no one was injured.



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