Who was Prince Philip and what are the plans for his funeral?


Here’s what to know about Philip’s life and legacy.

Who was Prince Philip?

Prince Philip was married for more than seven decades to Elizabeth. He was born into the Greek royal family, with royal roots connecting him to the monarchies of Denmark, Germany, Russia and Britain.

He and Elizabeth shared the same great-great grandmother.

Philip’s initial years were tumultuous: Soon after his birth, his family fled Greece following death threats against his father, King Andrew. As a child he spent time at boarding schools in England and Germany, where his sisters settled, both marrying German princes and joining the Nazi party.

A former British naval officer, Philip married Elizabeth in 1947. They met in 1939, when she was 13 and he 17. At the time of their marriage, he was seen as dashing, charismatic and a breath of fresh air for Britain’s centuries-old monarchy. He was granted the title of Duke of Edinburgh.

When Elizabeth was coronated in 1953, a kneeling Philip pledged to be her “liegeman,” or faithful servant, for life. He kept that promise, becoming the longest-serving royal consort in British history.

With flowers, flags at half-mast and gun salutes, the people of Britain paid tribute on April 10 to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died the day before. (Reuters)

Philip was known as an active outdoorsman and promoted youth fitness. Biographers have described him as dedicated to the queen but having an alpha male persona. He expressed frustration with the need to give up his military service after Elizabeth became queen.

His public appearance was also defined by repeated gaffes and racist, sexist and classist remarks over the decades. He had a contentious relationship with Britain’s tabloid press.

In recent years, controversies over his legacy, such as rumors of infidelity, were revived by way of the hit Netflix show on the queen’s reign, “The Crown.”

He and Elizabeth had four children — Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — and eight grandchildren.

What will the funeral be like and who will attend?

Philip “passed away peacefully” at Windsor Castle, according to a statement on the Buckingham palace website. He and the queen had spent the pandemic at Windsor Castle, largely out of the public’s sight. On Saturday, flags remained lowered across Britain. The royal staff dressed in black.

Now, questions are swirling over what the funeral will look like and who will attend — including whether Harry and Meghan will fly in from the United States.

On Saturday, Buckingham Palace announced that the funeral would be held at Windsor Castle on April 17. It will just be a private family function.

Whether Harry and Meghan, who is pregnant, will attend remains unknown. England’s current rules limit funeral attendance to 30 and require social distancing and face masks. Travelers from abroad are required to quarantine and test negative for covid.

Plans had previously been drawn up for the prince’s funeral, though they now must be tailored to meet Britain’s coronavirus-related restrictions. Britain just emerged from its third lockdown and large gatherings are banned. Ordinarily, large crowds would flock to London to attend the royal ceremony.

Instead, according to the College of Arms, which is involved with the funeral plans, Philip will not have a state funeral or lie in state at Westminster Palace.

“His Royal Highness’s body will lie at rest in Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral in St George’s Chapel. This is in line with custom and with His Royal Highness’s wishes,” the College of Arms said in a statement Friday, Reuters reported.

“The funeral arrangements have been revised in view of the prevailing circumstances arising from the covid-19 pandemic and it is regretfully requested that members of the public do not attempt to attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral.”

The prince, reportedly, did not want a large funeral or some of the other formal ceremonies afforded to certain members of the royal family.

Buckingham Palace released a statement requesting that crowds not gather in light of the pandemic. Instead of leaving flowers, as is customary , it suggested mourners donate to a charity or sign an online book of condolences.

What happens to the title of Duke of Edinburgh?

The title “Duke of Edinburgh” appears set to pass to Philip’s youngest son, Edward, the Earl of Wessex, who is the only child of the reigning monarch not to hold a dukedom.

But the matter is not quite so simple.

Charles, as the eldest of the siblings and heir to the throne, could have been set to inherit the title. But in 1999, Buckingham palace announced that Edward would one day take it.

Edward is unlikely to receive the title until after the queen’s death, when Prince Charles becomes King. When a royal becomes a monarch, other titles they hold merge with the crown, leaving room for them to be regranted.

For now, the health of Elizabeth remains of greatest consequence for Windsor Castle. When she passes away, 72-year-old Charles will take the reins.

World leaders from the U.K. to Senegal reacted to the death of Prince Philip on April 9, sending their condolences to the royal family and the British people. (Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)

What were some of Philip’s public controversies?

While Britain’s queen focused on duties at home, Philip was often sent to tour abroad, including on trips to the 16 countries that remain part of Britain’s commonwealth. In total, he performed 22,191 solo engagements, went on 637 overseas visits and gave 5,493 speeches, according to Buckingham Palace.

Though many of his public appearances were well received, over the years he also made a number of memorable, insensitive comments, often exhibiting little remorse afterward.

In 1986, for example, on a tour of Beijing, he called the city “ghastly” and told a British student he might end up “slitty-eyed.” He later said it was a misquoted joke, and that he had really said “slit-eyed.”

Other apparent attempts at jokes were also poorly received. He once remarked to a female solicitor (or lawyer), “I thought it was against the law these days for a woman to solicit.” In another case he told a blind woman accompanied by a guide dog, “Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?”

Philip reportedly asked a driving instructor in Scotland, “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”

In 2019, at age 97, the prince surrendered his license after he crashed his SUV into a car carrying three others, among them a 9-month-old.

The queen was reportedly a fan of much of his humor — though also tested by it.

“You can take it from me, that the queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance,” he said in a speech once. Elizabeth reportedly replied with a slight smile.

This report has been updated. Jennifer Hassan, William Booth, and Karla Adam contributed reporting from London.

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