Philip’s life was exciting from the beginning. The nephew of The King of Greece Constantine I, Prince of Greece and Denmark, was born in 1921, at the dining room table of a villa on the Greek island of Corfu. He was forced into exile only 18 months later, when a military revolution toppled the Greek monarchy. His family’s experience later shaped Philip’s desire to modernize the British monarchy.
Prince Philip joined the Navy in 1939, the same year he met Elizabeth when she visited the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth with her father, King George VI.
As a Greek citizen, Philip was initially deployed as a “neutral alien” serving on escort and naval convoys. But after Italy invaded Greece in 1940, he was appointed to Valiant, a warship that operated in the Mediterranean. Philip was praised for running scouts during a night battle in 1941 near Cape Matban, where the British destroyed much of the Italian fleet. He later received the Order of the Greek Cross of Courage.
After numerous appointments and promotions, Philip was appointed in 1944 as first lieutenant at HMS Whelp, a destroyer deployed to the Pacific as part of a British fleet in joint operations with the U.S. Navy, including landings at Iwo Jima during the Pacific conflict. When peace came, Philip remained in the Navy, but revived his friendship with Elizabeth, which turned into a famous love story.
In 1947, Philip became a naturalized British national, abdicating his royal titles and changed his name from Philip Schleswig Holstein Sonderberg Gluxberg. He took the title of his uncle and godfather, becoming Philip Mountbatten.
The couple married at Abbey Westminster Abbey in 1947. Shortly thereafter, Philip returned to naval service, rising to the rank of Lieutenant.
As of May 2017, Buckingham Palace said Prince Philip had made 22,191 solo commitments since he became Prince Consort in 1952. He made 637 individual foreign visits, more than a third of them to commonwealth countries. He also delivered 5,493 speeches and wrote 14 books.
Here are the most important events in the life of the late Prince Philip in the chronology above: