Prince Philip

Prince Philip: Which military ranks did he hold during his life?

Prince Philip held a number of military titles during his lifetime, as well as his own active naval career, which included being mentioned in dispatches during the Second World War.

He served in the war, first as a midshipman, and worked on board a number of Royal Navy vessels.

In mid-1941, following the Battles of Cape Matapan and Crete, the future Duke of Edinburgh headed to Portsmouth to take a sub-lieutenant exam.

The five-part test consisted of sections in gunnery, torpedoes, navigation, signals and seamanship, with marks ranging from one to three (highest to lowest) in each.

Philip scored highly, achieving a 'four-one', with just one of his subjects being graded as a two.

He was subsequently promoted to Sub-Lieutenant and posted to HMS Wallace off the east coast of the UK, before becoming a Lieutenant a few months later, one of the youngest First Lieutenants in the Navy in 1942, taking the post at the age of just 21 while still on board Wallace.

In July 1950, Philip was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and given his first command, HMS Magpie, that September.

Philip would end his active naval career in July 1951, less than a year before Queen Elizabeth II took the throne.

The Duke of Edinburgh, however, was promoted to the rank of commander in the Royal Navy in June 1952.

The Duke of Edinburgh on HMS Magpie
The Duke of Edinburgh on board HMS Magpie in the early 1950s (Picture: Royal Navy).

In 1953, he was given honorary five-star appointments in all three services, being made an Admiral of the Fleet, British Army Field Marshal and Royal Air Force Marshal.

In 2011, he was made Lord High Admiral, the office of titular head of the Navy, succeeding the Queen in the role.

Honorary military ranks and titles held by the Duke of Edinburgh during his lifetime:


Field Marshal of the British Army

Colonel, Grenadier Guards

Colonel-in-Chief, Army Cadet Force

Colonel-in-Chief, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Colonel-in-Chief, Intelligence Corps

Colonel-in-Chief, Queen's Royal Hussars

Colonel-in-Chief, The Rifles

Prince Philip sporting a beard
The Duke of Edinburgh served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War (Picture: TopFoto/PA Images).
Prince Philip Apache cockpit
The Duke of Edinburgh in the cockpit of an Apache helicopter in October 2014 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Royal Colonel, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Colonel-in-Chief, Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons)

Honorary Colonel, University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Officer Training Corps

Colonel, Welsh Guards

Honorary Colonel, Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry

Member, Honourable Artillery Company

Colonel-in-Chief, Queen's Royal Irish Hussars

Colonel-in-Chief, Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire)

Prince Philip visiting Iraq
Prince Philip paid a surprise visit to Basra in Iraq in 2006 (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Royal Navy

Admiral of the Fleet

Lord High Admiral

Royal Air Force

Marshal of the Royal Air Force

Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps

Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Kinloss

Air Commodore of the University Air Squadron

Prince Harry given title General Royal Marines
Prince Harry succeeded his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, as Captain General Royal Marines (Picture: MOD).

Royal Marines

Captain General

Second World War medals

1939-45 Star

Atlantic Star

Africa Star

Burma Star with Pacific clasp

Italy Star

1939-45 War medal, with Mentioned in Dispatches oak leaf

Join Our Newsletter


First Fusiliers train to lead Nato battlegroup in Estonia

Is Ukraine's counter-offensive under way?

Is Ukraine using an aircraft-imitating missile to confuse Russian defences?