In the cast of characters within the British Royal Family, the Duke of Edinburgh was one of the most well-known, as well as one of the most enduring.
The title of the Duke of Edinburgh is a royal title which dates back to the early 18th century and has been granted to a number of individuals over the centuries.
However, in the modern context, the most recent recipient of the title is usually the person people referred to when they discuss the Duke of Edinburgh in contemporary circles.
Who Is The Duke Of Edinburgh?
For almost 70 years, the man that the modern world has known as the Duke of Edinburgh was Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
He was born in 1921 and died just a couple of months before his 100th birthday, in 2021, having served as the loyal husband to the English sovereign for more than seven decades.
The title, Duke of Edinburgh, was granted to him upon his marriage to the then Princess Elizabeth, who was heir to the British throne. This was in line with the custom within the British Royal Family to appoint titles to Royal children and their respective new spouses when they get married.
Was Philip A Duke Or A Prince?
When Philip married Princess Elizabeth in 1947, he became the Duke of Edinburgh, and so at that point, he was officially a Duke.
Prior to the wedding, Philip, the new Duke of Edinburgh had been a royal prince in his own right. He was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg, who was the granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria.
So, when Philip met the English princess Elizabeth, he was also a royal prince.
However, the custom for the royal wedding between Philip and Elizabeth required him to give up his princely titles, to become the Royal Consort. This means that Philip was originally a royal prince, and then relinquished his regal status to become a Duke when he married the heir to the British throne.
A decade after the wedding, however, Philip was once again elevated to the status of prince when his wife, Queen Elizabeth, made him an official prince of the United Kingdom.
So, he’d gone from prince to duke and back to prince again, to be known for the majority of his life as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
A Royal Consort
A common question regarding the title of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is why he is not referred to as a king. It’s natural to wonder why the husband of a queen would not be regarded as a king.
The answer lies in an age-old custom within a number of royal families that, particularly in the modern era, uses the term ‘royal consort’ for the spouse of a monarch, on occasions when the title of king or queen is not appropriate.
A royal consort is a term used to denote the rank and status of an individual within the royal hierarchy, as well as their origins or connection to the monarchy.
For example, in the case of Prince Philip, he was not an heir to the British throne, and so did not become king as a hereditary title. The crown was passed to his wife, who was then Princess Elizabeth, and the complex customs and traditions within the line of succession and the appointment of royal titles did not allow for Prince Philip to be crowned as a king or receive the royal title of king.
Instead, he was granted the title of Duke of Edinburgh, along with the rank of royal consort, i.e. the spouse of the sovereign.
This is similar to the rank and role of the current Queen Consort, Camilla, who did not inherit the crown through the line of succession, but as the wife of the current king of England, Charles III, her position is regarded as the highest ranking female within the royal family, as the spouse of the reigning monarch.
The Duke Of Edinburgh Award Scheme
As one of the most famous members of the British Royal Family, Prince Philip was a high-profile figure for much of his tenure as royal consort, from 1947 to his death in 2012.
In his role as husband to one of England’s longest-serving monarchs, he was an integral figure in the modern monarchy, as well as a key player in the evolution of the role of the monarchy in contemporary society.
Like many royals, Prince Philip had a number of worthy causes that he felt particularly strongly about, and dedicated his life and energy to furthering the success and awareness of a range of charities and initiatives.
Undoubtedly, the most famous legacy of Prince Philip’s charities and patronage is the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
This scheme was designed to help young people thrive through a range of activities and supportive philosophies. The programme has a particular focus on physical wellness, a sense of community, a theme of altruism and the recognition of initiative.
As a royal charity, the scheme has been an incredible success, with the organisation still going strong after more than 60 years since its inception.
It’s a credit to the scheme that the Duke of Edinburgh Award is so highly valued within the education and development of young people that many British universities recognise the award as proof of a candidate’s drive, personal calibre and sense of purpose.
Being the spouse of one of the world’s most famous and longest serving monarchs may have brought its unique challenges, yet there’s no doubt that Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, lived a uniquely privileged life at the forefront of the modern monarchy in Great Britain.
He undoubtedly witnessed a great many changes during his years as royal consort, and history records that some of these changes were instigated by Prince Philip himself – his Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is undoubtedly one of his greatest legacies.
So, the story of the Duke of Edinburgh remains a captivating one, as a tale of undisputed service, duty and loyalty, as well as a strong personal drive and a passion for helping others to thrive, particularly the younger generations.