The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has died at the age of 99 years, as reported Friday Buckingham Palace. “With deep sorrow, Her Majesty the Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” Buckingham Palace announced in a statement. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle,” the note said.
The husband of Queen Elizabeth II will go down in history as the man who walked several steps behind his wife. Photographed at thousands of ceremonies, in impeccable naval uniform or Saville Row suit, he never left the room before the sovereign did.
As a consort, taking a back seat to the longest reign in English history has been her role in life. A marginal mission, for whom he was neither a loving father, nor a faithful husband, nor the man of action that he boasted in his very distant youth.
“I can’t take much longer,” he declared in an ironic tone, when in May 2017 he announced his retirement and the end of official duties. According to the balance sheet published at the time, he had participated in 22,000 public engagements and had delivered more than 5,000 speeches.
It was the summary of seven decades of ‘service’ to the Crown, for which his wife said she was recognized. Long regarded as a foreign intruder by the ‘ establishmen’t ‘ , the British tolerated him, though they did not appreciate his out-of-tone, his mischievous and arrogant demeanor. Over the years he had become a figure from another time, a ghost from the past.
No roots, no family
Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark had been born on the island of Corfu. The only male and the youngest of the five children of Princess Alice and Prince Andrew, of German-Danish origin. They were second-rate royals, without any fortune. His childhood was chaotic, without roots, or home. Shortly after his birth, after an anti-monarchical coup, the family had to take refuge in Paris, where he lived with the help of wealthy relatives.
The mother ended up in a psychiatric institution when the boy was eight years old. His education was a succession of boarding schools , in France, England and Germany and at Gordonstoun school in Scotland.
He was bad at school, good at sports and soon the alpha male adolescent, idle, partying and lover of feminine beauties began to emerge, which would largely define his style as an adult. The lack of affective relationships or a father figure would mark the distance that he would have with his own children.
Connections with Germany
In 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, Felipe enlisted as a cadet in the British Royal Navy. He was 18 years old and had once again met Princess Isabel, barely thirteen, enraptured, as the chronicles have told, with that distant cousin, tall, blond, with blue eyes, athletic and outgoing.
The young man gave them to her as a man of the world, with an irreverent touch, which made him irresistible for an educated girl without any contact with the other sex.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh stroll among the thousands of “Poppies”, red ceramic poppies, planted in the moat of the Tower of London in October 2014.
The parents of the future queen were not happy. They far preferred some of the young English landed aristocrats, with ancestry, hunting grounds and fortune. Felipe, who his father, a player and a womanizer, lacked all that was left by inheritance an ivory shaving brush, cufflinks and a ring, when a heart attack took him at the age of 62 in the hotel in Monte Carlo where he lived with her lover.
When he proposed to Isabel, the suitor had 6 pounds in the bank and had to ask his mother for diamonds for a tiara in order to make the engagement ring. Whoever was going to marry the head of the Anglican church in England was a disbeliever . Born into the Greek Orthodox Church, involved during adolescence with German Protestantism and finally converted to Anglicanism in order to marry.
Felipe also had great connections with Germany , which in the postwar period was not a good calling card. His sisters had married Nazi figures, something that horrified then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill. None of them would be invited to the royal wedding held in 1947.
The great supporter of the future husband was his maternal uncle, Dickie Mountbatten, who helped to give some cosmetic touch-ups to the groom’s pedigree. The “refugee husband”, as he was contemptuously nicknamed at the Court, had to change his paternal surnames, too Germanic, (Schleswig Holstein), for the English adaptation of the maternal one, which from Battenberg became Mountbatten.
The fiancé, proud until then of his independence, had to ask for British citizenship and renounce his Greek and Danish royal titles. In exchange they were granted those of His Royal Highness (HRH), Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron of Greenwich.
The ascent to the throne of Elizabeth II, when he was only 25 years old, forced the prince to leave his work in the Navy, a masculine environment, of adventures in each port, in which he felt very comfortable.
It was a humiliation for her children, on Churchill’s recommendation, to adopt the surname Windsor. “I am nothing but a fucking amoeba. The only man in England who is not allowed to give his children last names, “he would comment resentfully.
Boredom and extramarital curriculum
Patron and president of 800 organizations, the duke did not hide the boredom that so much reception caused him, the hours of polite and empty conversations, so much smile and protocol. “I think he is bored with the whole royal business,” one of the queen’s secretaries would say.
“All that reception stuff, shaking hands, it wasn’t something that suited him at all.” Her corseted life in official acts enlivened her with a luxurious and privileged existence alternating polo matches, sailing competitions, hunts and an extramarital curriculum, whose rumors were echoed mainly by the foreign press.
A ‘royal collection’ of affairs of which there were never any photos or incriminating evidence. Muted scandals, while in a low voice they spoke of a marital crisis, the queen’s boredom with her husband’s bad humor, rudeness, misogynistic and racist jokes in public and in private. “I’m not interested in what they put on my grave,” he once said.
The interest of the Crown prevailed. There was no divorce, no exile. Elizabeth II left the decisions about the children in the hands of a husband little given to affection and affection. She always found Carlos’s hesitant, overly sensitive character disappointing . It would be her insistence that led the Prince of Wales to marry Diana Spencer, despite notices that the couple had little or nothing in common.
On the verge of turning a century, Felipe de Edimburgo has left the scene without leaving a legacy worth remembering. The national duel will be limited.