Prince Philip

How Prince Philip earned the respect of the British military

The previous Duke of Edinburgh served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and was even mentioned in dispatches for his role in the Battle of Cape Matapan.

King Charles conferred the Dukedom of Edinburgh upon Prince Edward, formerly Earl of Wessex and Forfar, on the occasion of His Royal Highness' 59th birthday, on 10 March 2023.

Here, we take a look at his father's military background.

As well as an active military career of his own, which came to an end in 1951, Prince Philip maintained a close association with the Armed Forces in the decades after.

Where did Prince Philip's association with the military begin?

:: June 10 1921 – Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark was born to Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg in the family home, Mon Repos, on Corfu. He was the youngest of five children.

:: December 1922 – Eighteen-month-old Prince Philip, travelling in a makeshift cot made from an orange box, was evacuated from Greece on a Royal Navy ship after King Constantine I was forced to abdicate.

:: 1928 – At the age of eight, Philip travelled to England to live with his grandmother and his uncle.

:: 1930 – Philip's mother Princess Alice was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a sanatorium in Switzerland for two years. His father Prince Andrew headed to the French Riviera, while Philip was sent to Cheam Preparatory School in the UK.

Prince Philip Royal Navy officer
Prince Philip served in the Royal Navy (Picture: PA).

:: May 1939 – In the run-up to the start of the Second World War, Philip finished at Gordonstoun and began his naval career at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where he won two prizes for being the best cadet.

:: July 1939 – A young Princess Elizabeth fell in love with Philip when he escorted her and her sister Princess Margaret during a tour of the college.

:: 1940 – Philip joined the battleship HMS Ramillies in Colombo as a midshipman and spent six months in the Indian Ocean.

:: January 1941 – He served on HMS Valiant in Alexandria and two months later was mentioned in despatches for his actions during the Battle of Cape Matapan after spotting an unexpected enemy vessel with searchlights. He was later awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.

The Duke of Edinburgh on his last solo royal engagement in 2017 (Picture: PA).
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, on his last solo royal engagement in 2017 (Picture: PA).

:: 1942 – Philip rose through the ranks and became one of the youngest officers in the Royal Navy to be made First Lieutenant and second-in-command of a ship – HMS Wallace.

:: 1943 – HMS Wallace was despatched to the Mediterranean and provided cover for the Canadian beachhead of the Allied landings in Sicily.

:: February 1944 – Philip was appointed First Lieutenant and second in command of the new Fleet Destroyer HMS Whelp, which sailed to the Indian Ocean to join the British Pacific Fleet.

:: 1946 – Philip returned to the UK, spending time at naval training schools and went on to ask George VI for Princess Elizabeth's hand in marriage.

:: February 1947 – Philip renounced his rights to the Greek throne and became a British subject – Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

:: November 20 1947 – Philip marries Princess Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey. He was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich shortly before his wedding. After that, he sought to find a role of his own in British society. As Royal consort, his activities could not have any political connotations.

Duke of Edinburgh In Uniform

:: October 1948 – Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, attends the Royal Naval Staff College at Greenwich.

:: 1949 – Philip was appointed First Lieutenant and second-in-command of HMS Chequers, operating from Malta with the Mediterranean fleet.

:: 1950 – He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander and then appointed in command of the frigate HMS Magpie in Malta.

:: 1951 – Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth returned home from Malta to Clarence House. Philip left the Navy prematurely because of the deteriorating health of King George VI and Princess Elizabeth was required to take on more royal responsibilities.

:: 1951 – Princess Elizabeth and Philip made their first major tour together to Canada and the United States in October and November 1951, after which Prince Philip is made a Privy Counsellor.

:: 1952 – Prince Philip 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.

:: June 1952 – Prince Philip was promoted to the rank of commander in the Royal Navy.

:: 1953 – He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet and appointed a British Army Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

Duke of Edinburgh

:: June 2 1953 – The Queen's Coronation at Westminster Abbey. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh swore to be his wife's ''liege man of life and limb'' and was the first layman to pay tender homage to the newly crowned monarch.

:: 1956 – Prince Philip launches the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, a youth awards programme inspiring teenagers to challenge themselves physically and mentally and build their confidence through non-academic activities. Philip toured the Commonwealth on the Royal Yacht Britannia, without the Queen.

:: February 1957 – The Queen gives Philip the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom.

:: May 1961 – Keen to publicise youth apprenticeships, Prince Philip became the first member of the Royal Family to be interviewed on television.

:: June 2011 – Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, celebrates his 90th birthday and the Queen gives him a new title – Lord High Admiral, the titular head of the Royal Navy.

:: March 2016 – Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, officially opened the new home of the Royal Mechanical and Electrical Engineers in Lyneham, bringing 1,600 soldiers from two sites – Aborfield and Bordon – onto one location.

:: May 4 2017 – Buckingham Palace announced that Philip is to step down from public duties.

:: August 2 2017 – Prince Philip conducts his final solo royal engagement – an event with Royal Marines.

:: December 19 2017 – Prince Harry is formally appointed as Captain General Royal Marines, succeeding his grandfather Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke of Sussex held the title until February 2021 when he and his wife Meghan stepped down as senior Royals.

:: October 28 2022 – King Charles is announced as the ceremonial head of the Royal Marines on the 358th anniversary of the corps, taking over the role from Prince Harry.

Join Our Newsletter


Ukraine will not rush Western tanks into counter-offensive - expert

RAF's 'amazing' Hercules retired after almost 57 years of service

RAF Typhoons scrambled to intercept Russian spy plane and fighter jet