Daily Courier

Prince Philip of Greece was born on 10 June 1921 on the island of Corfu. His birth certificate shows the date as 28 May 1921, as Greece had not then adopted the Gregorian calendar.

His father was Prince Andrew of Greece, a younger son of King George I of the Hellenes. His mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was the eldest child of Prince Louis of Battenberg and sister of Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

After a coup d’etat in 1922, his father was banished from Greece by a revolutionary court.

A British warship sent by his second cousin, King George V, took the family to Italy. Baby Philip spent much of the voyage in a crib made from an orange box.

The prince began his education in France but, at the age of seven, came to live with his Mountbatten relatives in England, where he attended a prep school in Surrey.

By this time his mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and been placed in an asylum. The young prince would have little contact with her.

In 1933, he was sent to Schule Schloss Salem in southern Germany, which was run by educational pioneer Kurt Hahn. But within months, Hahn, who was Jewish, was forced to flee Nazi persecution.

Hahn moved to Scotland where he founded Gordonstoun school, to which the prince transferred after only two terms in Germany.

Gordonstoun’s Spartan regime, with its emphasis on self-reliance, was the ideal environment for a teenage boy who, separated from his parents, felt very much on his own.

With war looming, Prince Philip decided on a military career. He wanted to join the Royal Air Force but his mother’s family had a seafaring tradition and he became a cadet at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.

While there he was delegated to escort the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, while King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the college.

According to witnesses, Prince Philip showed off a great deal. But the meeting made a deep impression on the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth.

Philip quickly proved himself an outstanding prospect, passing out at the top of his class in January 1940 and seeing military action for the first time in the Indian Ocean.

He transferred to the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Fleet, where he was mentioned in dispatches for his part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941.

As the officer in charge of the ship’s searchlights, he played a crucial role in this decisive night action.

“I found another ship and it lit up the middle part of it, whereupon it practically disappeared instantly under a salvo of 15in shells at point-blank range,” he told BBC Radio 4 in 2014.

By October 1942, he was one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy, serving on board the destroyer HMS Wallace.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, won widespread respect for his steadfast and constant support of the Queen.

Prince Philip returning from the hospital last month

It was a desperately difficult role for anyone, let alone a man who had been used to naval command and who held strong views on a wide range of subjects.

Yet it was that very strength of character that enabled him to discharge his responsibilities so effectively, and provide such wholehearted support to his wife in her role as Queen.

As male consort to a female sovereign, Prince Philip had no constitutional position. But no-one was closer to the monarchy, or of greater importance to the monarch, than he was.

The duke retired from public life in August 2017 after decades supporting the Queen and attending events for his own charities and organisations.

Buckingham Palace calculated he had completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952, and Theresa May, the then prime minister, thanked him for a “remarkable life of public service”.

Philip was successful in using his position to make a huge contribution to British life and played his part in helping the monarchy come to terms with changing social attitudes over the years.

But his greatest achievement was undoubtedly the constancy and strength of his support for the Queen in the long years of her reign.

He believed his job was, as he told his biographer, “to ensure the Queen can reign”.