boys clothing: British royalty--Prince Philip

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1921- )

Figure 1.--This is Prince Philio with his mother Princess Alice at Hemmelmar in 1929. He was about 8 years old. A a younger boy, Philip spent a good bit of time in Germany. After this, Philip saw less and less of his parents.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and baron Greenwich, was born Prince of Greece and Denmark in Corfu (Greek: Korfou) on June 10, 1921. We was exiled in 1922, in fact rescued by the Royal Navy. The engagement of the dashing Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten to Princess Elizabeth was announced in July 1947 and the marriage took place in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947, a rare ray of light in an England still recovering from World War II. Shortly before the wedding, the bridegroom was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich with the style of His Royal Highness and appointed a Knight of the Garter by the King. The Queen and Prince Philip had two children before (Prince Charles, Princess Anne) and two after (Prince Andrew, Prince Edward) Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne. The dashing image of Prince Phillip is a far cry from the current image, which today tends to be that of an arrogant, not very well educated, cantankerous elderly man suffering from a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease. Phillip may well be one of the least understood members of the royal family. Few royals have changed so over the years, evolving from princely refugee to debonair naval officer and from modernising royal to arch traditionalist.


Prince Philip is realted to the royal families of Denmark, England, Hesse, Germany, and Russia.

Princess Alice of Battenburg (1885-1969)

Philip's great grandmother was Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Alice who married Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt (1837-92). Her daughter Victoria Alberta (1863-1950) married Louis of Battenberg (1854-1921). Victoria's children included Louis (Lord Mountbatten, the future World War II hero) and Alice, Prince Phillip' mother. Alice became increasingly estranged from Philip's father, Prince Andrew of Greece. She eventually retreated to a nunnery offering little support to the young Philip.

Prince Andrew (1882-1944)

The popularity of Lord Louis Mountbatten has resulted in Prince Philip being identified with his mother's side of the family. Prince Philip is reported to have said, "I don't think anyone thinks I had a father. Most people think that Dickie's my father anyway." Philip's father was Prince (of Greece and Denmark) Andrew of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg, (1882- ). Prince Andrew was a son of Greek King George I of Greece. (One author stresses that King George was not Greek, but was King of Greece.) Prince Andrew was arrested in 1922 by Greek dictator Pangalos and probably would have been executed had George V not insisted that the British Government interven on his behalf. Prince Andrew eventually separated from Princess Alice. Andrew moved to Monte Carlo, where he died in the arms of his mistress in 1944 during World War II.


Prince Philip had three four older sisters. They all married German princlings. One was killed in the War. Phillip, however, came out on the English side of the family. His sisters, especially Margarita and Theodora were quite a bit older than Philip, more like aunts in their relationship. Margarita mairred Gotfried of Hohenlohe-Langenberg (1897-1960). They had five children. Theodora mairred Bertholdf, Margrave of Baden (1906-63). They had three children. Philip spent many of his younger years with them. Cecile married George Donatus of Hesse (1906-37). Princess Sophie was the sister closest to Philip in age and remembers his antics as a little boy. She married Prince Christopher of Hesse (1901-43) and had five children. When he died during World War II she married George William of Hannover (1915- ). Thaey had three children. After World War II she moved to England and was supported by her brother Prince Philip.


Philip was born in 1921 on Corfu into the atmosphere of extreme uncertainty and danger that shrouded the Greek royal family at that time. At the age of 18 months, he was carried aboard a Royal Navy ship, the HMS Calypso in an orange box as his mother and sisters fled the military junta that had overthrown the Greek monarchy following the country's defeat at the hands of the Turks and the influx of refugees from Turkish territory. There waas a Greek lady in waiting, a French governess, and an English nany. The Royal Navy landed the young prince and his family at Brindisi and put them on a train to Paris. It is said that the Philip crawled everywhere on the train and was soon filthy from heaf to foot. His mother protested, but the nanny adbised leaving him be. His eldest sister tells us, "He was very active." [Heald, Philip, p. 12.] As a boy Philip had a rootless existence, drifting between the palaces of his British relatives and minor royal households of Europe--especially German. Philip was largely abandoned by his parents. (Philip's inheritance was an ivory-handled shaving brush and a few moth-eaten suits.) He learned at an early age to look after himself and be self reliant. His sisters married Germans (and fought for Germny in World war II) and for a while Philip lived in Germany. He was 12 years old when the NAZIs took over. If he had stayed in Germany he would have had to join the Hitler Youth and as a handsome, blond youth--a career in the SS may well have resulted. (An uncle was already in the SS.) Philip has never been accussed of being of having a brilliant mind or being ovely sensitive. Here as a boy, however, his judgement was impecable. He thought the NAZIs struting arround in uniforms were foolish. His Jewish Headmaster Kurt Hahn was certainly an influence here. Philip took off for England. His grandmother Victoria Alberta helped him a great deal. His Uncle George became his guardian. Uncle Dickie also took a special interest in him.

Boyhood Clothes

We have little information on Philip's clothes as a boy. One family portrait shows him wearing a sailor suit in 1928. Most available images show him wearing short pants.


Philip despite his parents problems appeared to thrive. He was educated at Cheam and at the German public school Salem, and when the latter's Jewish headmaster Kurt Hahn fled NAZI persecution, Philip followed him to the new public school he set up in Scotland - Gordonstoun. After Gordonstoun it was off th the Royal Naval Academy at Dartmouth.

Philip and the NAZIs

Critics of the monarchy and Prince Philip in particular like to discuss the connections between the Windsors and Prince Philip's family and the NAZIs. There were connections. There was Victoria's grandson Charles-Edward who became a NAZI. There were the Duke of Windsor's daliances with the NAZIs, and each of Philip's sisters maried German princes, including NAZI sympthiizers. One was even an SS colonel. The problem with all this was that Ohilip rejected the NAZIs even as a boy. The history of Germany is full of all too many who fell under the influence of the NAZIs. It is refreshing to read of one little boy who rejected them absolutely. This is interesting because it is asboys, especially athleticaly oriented boys, that the NAZIs through the Hitler Youth had great appeal. We are not entirely sure why Philip rejected the NAZIs. It was not the adults in his family. In fact he was largely abandoned by his family. His sisters were not particularly offended by the NAZIs. They hapily married German princes, some with strong NAZI afiliations. Thus the question of what influences the young Philip is interesting. Perhaps it was his time at Cheam. His German-Jewish school master, Kurth Hahn, appears to have been a major influence here. The story of how a little German prince turned his back on the NZIs is an ibteresting one. I wish Prince Philip would write a detailed account of this.

Military Service (1939-45)

Prince Philip immediately after leaving Gordonstoun, joined the Royal Navy (1939). It was precisely at this time that Princess Elizabeth who was only 13 yeats old, met her third cousin Prince Philip. I'm not entirely sure what Philip made of this first meeting. Princess Elizabeth made a good deal of it. It was apparently love at first sight for her. Philip seems to have "showed off a good deal" while playing tennis. One account says she "never took her eyes off him." [Crawford] Throughout the War, Elizabeth was devoted to the young man who she began calling "my Viking prince". They began exchanging letters while he was at sea. The year 1939 was of course not only a fareful year for romance, but also for the Royal Navy. Philip graduated from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth (1940). He was ranked the best best cadet in his course. He was commissioned as a Midshipman. His first assignment was on the battleship HMS Ramillies where he spent 6 months. He then spent some time in the Indian Ocean. He was next posed on the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean. The fall of France (June 1940) had turned the Mediterranean into the hotest front for the Royal Navy. A series of sharp engagements followed with the modern, fast Italian Navy. Philip was involved in several of the majir engagements of the Mediterranean. He participated in the Battle of Crete in which the British suffered another defeat when German paratroopers managed to take the island. Philip was named in n despatches for his service during the critical Battle of Cape Matapan. He was awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour. Philip was promoted Sub-Lieutenant and took courses to prepare for his next assignment, the V&W class destroyer, flotilla leader . He thus was primarily involved in escorting Atlantic convoys. Rapid promotions followed: Lieutenant (July 1942) and First Lieutenant (October 1942). While still with HMS Wallace,he was back in the Mediterranean, supporting the Allied invasion of Sicily (July 1943). Prince Philip's last World war II assignment was the new destroyer HMS Whelp where he saw service in the Pacific. He was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered. He returned to Britain with the ship (January 1946).

Princess Elizabeth

It was at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth that he met the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth. Marion Crawford, Elizabeth's governess, remembered that first meeting: 'A fair-haired boy, rather like a Viking with a sharp face and piercing blue eyes, came in. He was good looking, though rather off-hand in his manner. Lillibet never took her eyes off him the whole time.' Philip's uncle and godfather Lord Louis Mountbatten had organised the royal visit to Dartmouth and for Philip to escort the young princess. Lillibet did not forget her 'Viking', but although Mountbatten continued over the next few years to fight the corner of his young protege, the path to a royal romance was strewn with obstacles, including World War II. Elizabeth was only 13 when they met. Although she was immeditely smitten by him, the 18-year old pennyless prince had other matters on his mind. It was 1939 a World War II loomed.

Family Dynamics

Prince Philip during World War II Anglicised his name to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. He was in fact a German prince, with a family name of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburgs. After World War II that was not the best family pedigree for someone who wanted to marry the Princess Elizabeth. Philip had a string spokesman in his corner--his uncle, Lord Mountbatten. But most importantly, the young princess was simply infatuated with the tall, blond, "Viking" Prince. King George had his misgivings, primarily that Elizabeth was still very young. The primary opposition to the marriage, however, came from Elizabeth's mother Queen Elizabeth. The Queen mother was strongly anti-German. This came from an early age. Her brother Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon was killed at the Battle of Loos (1915). And her view of the Germans was only intensified during the London Blitz (1940). The idea that her cherished daughter Lilibet would many a Germany was actually offensice to her. And not just any German, but a German prince with four sisters married to Germans. She took to calling Phillip, "The Hun,"but I don't think in front of her daughter. Not only did she dislike Philip's German background, but gthought it would weaken the monarchy. The was not sure the British public would accept a German husband for their future queen. The Windsors wre a German family, buth the Queen mother was concerned that Philip would draw increased attention to it. One source close to the Queen mother explained, "Queen Elizabeth opposed the marriage. She distrusted the Mountbattens, and felt that her daughter ought to marry a British duke. She lobbied against it, and said to me at the time: 'The trouble is that Philip is so impossibly attractive, and Lilibet just cannot see beyond that'"[Dowager Lady Hardinge of Penshurst] And that was precisely it. Princess Elizabeth was smitten with Philip and she was going to have him. Despite their misgivings, the King and Queen gave their consent to the marriage..


Princess Elizabeth and Philip first met just before World war II (1939). Ekizabeth was still quite young. It is unclear just when Philip realized he might actually marry the future queen. The two correspnded during the War. They became secretly engaged after Philip returned on his ship from the Pacific (1946). Her father King George VI was not anxious for Princess Elizabeth to marry. He thought her too young. Her mother Queen Elizabeth did not like Germans. The Princess knew precisely what she wanted--and it was Philip. And she got her way. Princess Elizabeth's engagement was officially announced (June 1947). Philip gave up his Greek citizenship and title. He became a British subject and assumed his mother's and uncle's Anglicized surname Mountbatten derived from Battenberg. King George granted Philip the British titles Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich. As a result of his givig up his Greek titles, Philip was no longer called "prince."

Wedding (1948)

Princess Elizabeth's wedding was the social event of the decade--a rare bright spot in drab post-War Bitain. The marriage took place in a glittering ceremony in Westminster Abbey. It was conducted with enormous publicity, recorded and broadcast by the BBC. Phillip by the time he married Elizabeth in 1947, had had to distance himself from his own sisters, one of whom was married to a prominent Nazi, renounce his religion and his nationality, and even change his name: Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg became Philip Mountbatten. "... he looked like a sort of young Viking, very blond and strong and very handsome. Oh, I think he was everybody's heart-throb ...," [Lady Kennard, cousin to Prince Philip] The marriage seemed happy, and never more than during Philip and Elizabeth's tour of Kenya in 1952. This was brought to a halt by the unexpected death of George VI and Elizabeth's sudden accession to the throne. At that moment, Philip stopped being his own man and became subservient to his wife. It was a transition he found hard to make, and to which he has never fully adjusted.


Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had two children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, before Elizabeth became queen. Two children, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. followed after Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne. He has not been seen as the most engaged or understanding father.

Prince Charles (1948- )

Charles, Prince of Wales is the current heir to the British throne. He will become King Charles III on either the abdication or death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. He was the first heir to the throne to be educated in schools as a child, albeit exclusive private schools. Prince Phillip's choice of his ormer school, the rugged Gordonston school, was probably a seious mistake on his part and Charles reportedly had a difficult time there.

Princess Anne

Princess Anne had a very determined personality as a child. Prince Phillip sometimes compared Charles to her unfavorably to her.

Prince Andrew (1960- )

Pince Andrew, of the three boys, is probanly the son cut most in his father's mold. Andrew was born on February 19, 1960 at Buckingham Palace; the first child to be born to a reigning monarch for 103 years. Christened Andrew Albert Christian Edward Windsor in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, he was known as Prince Andrew until his marriage, when he was created The Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killyleagh.

Prince Edward

Prince Edward was born in 1964, the youngest of the Queen's children. His education followed in the now family tradition of a preparatory school and Public school (Gordonstoun) in Scotland. Edward threw himself into the outdoor and physical life of Gordonstoun, he enjoyed skiing and had learned to fly before he left school. Edward won a Royal Marine cadetship and went to study at Jesus College, Cambridge. On leaving Cambridge, Edward joined the Marines to train as an officer, an effort to meet the very traditional expectations of his rather straight-laced father. This proved to be a mistake. The Royal Marines are one of the most demanding military units in the world. The Royal Marines turned out to be more than Edward could handle and he soon left the Marines to follow an alternative and less traditional career of his own choosing. Prince Edward is now in a London theatre company working as a producer/director and with a good degree of success.


In the 1950s, rumours of affairs and problems in the royal marriage swept the international press, yet the prince kept busy - in 1956, he founded the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme to encourage creative achievement among young people - and scandal was avoided. In 1969 came the royal family's first attempt at modern spin-doctoring with the television documentary Royal Family: its making was championed by Philip who wanted to portray the Windsors as an ordinary family doing an extraordinary job.

Philip found himself a controversial figure. His role as president of the World Wildlife Fund was tinged with controversy, owing to his penchant for shooting wildlife. Then there was his unfortunate knack of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time - including the infamous 'slitty eyes' comment on a royal tour of China. In later life, he has journeyed back to Greek Orthodoxy.

A television documentary poses the question, Why has the man who brought a modernising breath of fresh air to Buckingham Palace in the early days of his marriage apparently become a reactionary traditionalist? The answer may lay in the life of a royal paradox; the man who is at the centre of the British monarchy but who can never play a part in the nation's constitutional life.


Crawford, Marion. The Little Princesses

Higham, C. and R. Moseley, Elizabeth and Philip (Ulverscroft Large Print Editions, 1998), 16.99: This readable page-turner will delight anglophile royal watchers with its in-depth look at the lives of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and their famous--sometimes infamous--family.

Parker, John. Prince Philip: a Critical Biography (Ulverscroft Large Print Books, 1992), 16.99: Prince Philip, although lacking a constitutional role, has exerted great influence on the queen and the royal family, the ultimate effect of which only time will tell. This and other aspects of his life and times, including a difficult childhood, are covered by this biography.

Parker, John. Prince Philip: His Secret Life (Macmillan, 1990), 15.95: In this book, Parker reports alleged affairs and a possible illegitimate child, along with details of genealogy and long discussions of Philip's charitable works. He covers the prince's early life before and after meeting Princess Elizabeth, as well as the tabloid stories that accompanied the couple.

Heald, Tim. Philip: A Portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh (William Morrow and Company, Inc.: New York, 1991).

Kurt Hahn: A short biography of the founder of Salem (Germany) and Gordonstoun schools, who had a profound effect on the shaping of Prince Philip's character (as well as of his sons).


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Created: April 21, 2000
Last updated: 10:59 PM 7/30/2008