Here's 99 things you never knew about Prince Philip – a secret romantic who married the Queen with 12p in the bank

THE Queen’s loyal consort Prince Philip was one of the most famous men in Britain, but did you know all these surprising facts about him?

Here we pay tribute to the “Iron Duke” with 99 fascinating facts about his remarkable life.

🔵 Read our live blog for the very latest news on Prince Philip's death

This piece was originally published on the Duke of Edinburgh's 99th birthday and has been republished following the sad news of his death.

1. Prince Philip was born on a kitchen table at the villa ‘Mon Repos’ – the summer retreat of the Greek Royal Family, on Corfu, on June 10, 1921.

2. Despite his nickname “Phil the Greek” he has no Greek blood in him. His grandfather was a Prince of Denmark “imported” to become King of Greece.

3. Like his cousin the Queen he is a great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria.

4. In 1922 his father Prince Andrew was sentenced to death by a Greek revolutionary council for failing to lead a cavalry charge against the Turks.

5. His father and mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, fled with their four daughters and Philip, their only son, and were rescued by a British warship.

6. Philip spent the next seven years in France living near Paris with his uncle. On a state visit in 2008, French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy marvelled at his “impeccable French.”

7. Aged eight he attended Cheam School in Surrey where he played in goal for the football team.

8. His parents split when he was ten and he didn’t see his mother for eight years when she entered a sanatorium after suffering a breakdown.

9. His father moved to Monte Carlo where he had a reputation for drinking and gambling too much. He died there, aged 62 in 1944.

10. After a year at school in Germany Philip went to Gordonstoun in Scotland in 1934, becoming captain of the cricket and hockey teams, and in his last term head boy.

11. He first met the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and the Duke of Kent in 1934. For her, aged only eight, it was almost love at first sight.

12. In 1939 he joined the Navy at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where he was best cadet.

13. It was there he was re-introduced to Elizabeth, his third cousin, during a visit with her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. 

14. Philip was mentioned in dispatches for bravery during the war. During the 1941 battle of Matapan against the Italian fleet, he manned searchlights aboard HMS Valiant, lighting up enemy cruisers despite heavy fire.

15. In 1943 he probably saved 163 lives aboard HMS Wallace, a destroyer on convoy duty in “bomb alley” off the British east coast. On a clear night the ship was a sitting duck when Philip devised a plan, launching a blazing raft into the water. Enemy aircraft saw the smoke and bombed the raft, thinking it was the ship, and they escaped unharmed.

16. In 1943 he spent Christmas with the royals at Windsor Castle and the romance with Elizabeth developed.

17. In 1945, in Sydney, Australia, Philip was arrested and fined for urinating in the street while on leave.

18. Where and when he proposed is a secret but the marriage announcement was made on July 10 1947.

19. Philip became a British citizen, renouncing his Greek title, and adopting the name Mountbatten.

20. Just before the wedding in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947, he was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.

21. He was given the style His Royal Highness but that did not make him a British Prince, an oversight the Queen rectified in 1957.

22. He designed a bracelet as his wedding present to the Queen. The stones came from a tiara owned by his mother.

23. When he married he had the equivalent of 12 pence in the bank.

24. Every day Philip performs Canadian Air Force exercises, including sit-ups and stomach crunches.

25. He gave up smoking the day before his marriage.

26. His four older sisters all married German princes, two of whom were Nazis. None were invited to his wedding.

27. Philip was not crowned or anointed at the Coronation Ceremony.

28. When Prince Charles was born in 1948 he spent the night playing squash. He said of his first child: “He looks like a plum pudding!”

29. Philip was outraged when the Queen decided, on advice from courtiers and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, that her children should take her family name of Windsor. “I am nothing but a bloody amoeba” he protested.

30. He wanted to become First Sea Lord but his naval career ended when Elizabeth became Queen in 1952.

31. In 1952, in Kenya, he broke the news to Elizabeth that her father George VI had died and she was now Queen.

32. During a tour of Canada in 1951 he chased Elizabeth down a train corridor wearing a set of joke false teeth.

33. His chain-smoking mother Alice lived in Buckingham Palace for the last two years of her life and died there in December 1969 aged 84.

34. He has always denied extra-marital affairs, saying they would be impossible as he is always accompanied by a policeman. But he has been romantically linked to, among others, Princess Alexandra, film star Merle Oberon, actress Pat Kirkwood, TV personality Katie Boyle and long-term friend Helene Cordet.

35. His closest female friend today is carriage riding partner Countess Mountbatten of Burma, better known as Lady Penny Romsey.

36. He has four children, eight grand-children and eight great- grandchildren.

37. He has been President of the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) twice in 1949 and 1975.

38. The Queen Mother often jokingly called him “The Hun.”

39. He doesn’t wear pyjamas.

40. His star sign is Gemini.

41. Philip helped to design the interior of the Royal Yacht Britannia launched in 1953. In total he travelled 72,430 miles on the Yacht, including two round-the-world voyages.

42. His pride and joy aboard was a driftwood collection.

43. His pet names for the Queen include “sausage” and “cabbage.”

44. He drinks little, but prefers beer to wine or spirits.

45. In May 1961 he became the first member of the Royal Family to be interviewed on television.

46. He made 5,496 speeches in 65 years before his retirement in August 2017.

47. He has been to more than 170 countries.

48. When Diana died in 1997 her sons William and Harry did not want to walk behind the coffin but Philip thought they would regret it later and told them: “If you like, I’ll walk with you.”

49. The handkerchief in his suit top pocket is always in a straight line.

50. He is  still patron or president of around 750 charities and organisations.

51. For years he used a LPG-powered London taxi cab to get around the capital.

52. The islanders of Tanna in Vanuatu in the South-West Pacific (formerly the New Hebrides) worship him as a god.

53. He has written 14 books on various subjects including bird-watching, carriage driving and the environment.

54. He gained his RAF wings in 1953, his helicopter wings in 1956 and his private pilot’s licence in 1959. During 6,000 hours of flying he piloted 59 types of aircraft. He stopped flying himself in 1997.

55. His private wealth has been estimated at £30 million, including a £3 million art collection.

56. He gets £359,000 a year from the Sovereign Grant which mainly goes on expenses.

57. Declassified Whitehall records released in 2001 revealed that in 1971 he ordered Britannia to take him on an unscheduled two-month cruise of the South Pacific at a cost of £50,000 (£500,000 today.)

58. He is a freeman of several cities including Acapulco, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Nairobi and Guadalajara.

59. After Cambridge students challenged him to a tiddlywinks match in 1958, he awarded the annual “Silver Wink” to the University Champions.

60. In 1963 he founded a bag-piping trophy for the Pakistan army.

61. He carried out 20,219 official engagements during his royal career.

62. For most of his life he has gone to bed at midnight and risen at 6am.

63. Since he founded the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in 1956, more than four million young people from over 90 countries have taken part, testing their physical fitness and meeting community challenges.

64. His last surviving sister, Princess George of Hanover, died aged 87 in 2001.

65. In 2000 Philip put on a display at Sandringham of dozens of cartoons he had collected poking fun at him over 50 years. As a boy he collected penknives.

66. Over many years he redesigned the gardens at Balmoral, including forming a water garden which he dug out himself with a bulldozer.

67. He has never gone fox-hunting.

68. His personal library has 11,000 books.

69. As the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria he is approximately 570th in line to the throne.

70. He gave up polo in 1971 when he turned 50.

71.He then took up carriage riding which cost him £20,000 a year.

72. His youngest son Prince Edward will take the title Duke of Edinburgh when he dies.

73. In 1995 a German newspaper reported that he had 24 illegitimate children after mistranslating an article saying he had 24 godchildren!

74. He is famous for his acerbic one-line quips. In 1994 on a visit to the Cayman Islands he asked museum curator William Tennent : “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”

75. He is a talented painter in oils.

76. When the Queen once complained he was driving too fast on a royal estate he told her: “If you do that once more I shall put you out of the car.” Her Majesty kept silent.

77. He was one of the first people in Britain to experiment with solar panels, installing them on the roof of a Sandringham cottage in the 1970s.

78. In private he wears glasses from High Street opticians Dollond and Aitchison.

79. In 2008 he asked his Savile Row tailor to alter a pair of trousers he first wore 52 years ago.

80. GQ magazine named him the 33rd best dressed man in the UK.

81. His favourite joke is about the American tourist who asked: “Why did they build Windsor Castle so close to Heathrow Airport?”

82. He once treated 50 of his staff to Christmas lunch at the Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal’s award-winning restaurant in Bray.

83. In April 2008 he spent three days in the King Edward VII hospital in London suffering from a cold and chest infection. No members of his family visited him because he “didn’t want any fuss” but actress Joanna Lumley delivered some flowers.

84. In February 2009 he was forced to rest after injuring his back carriage-riding. It is thought the Queen cancelled a state visit to the Middle East because she was concerned for his health.

85. He has established a truffle farm at Sandringham.

86: Until 1999 he was a member of the House of Lords but never spoke there because the Queen is politically neutral.

87. He has undergone surgery six times – to remove a cyst from his right wrist in 1967, a hernia repair in 1987 and in 1996 the removal of a benign growth on his nose. 

At Christmas 2011 he had a stent inserted to open up a blocked artery in his heart. In June 2013 he underwent an exploratory abdominal operation.And in April 2018 he had a hip replacement.

88 : He was twice hospitalised with bladder infections in 2012.

89 :  At the beginning of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year in 2002, he was asked what he was looking forward to and replied : “August” – when it was all over!

90. He once laughed out loud when a servant flipped up a serving table and a piece of creamy gateau dropped on the Queen’s cleavage.

91. Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed banned him from the store in 2000.

92. On April 18 2009 he became the longest serving consort in British history, overtaking the 57 years and 70 days set by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III.

93. He is the third oldest royal in British history behind Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, who lived to 102 and the Queen Mother who died aged 101.

94. His last public engagement was on August 2 2017 when he inspected Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace.

95: Royal author Gyles Brandreth says Philip once told him he didn’t want to live to 100 but he now thinks he’s changed his mind.

96. In January 2019 Philip collided with a Kia car in his Land Rover near Sandringham, saying he had been dazzled by a low sun while turning onto a busy road.

A passenger in the other car suffered a broken wrist and soon afterwards the Duke surrendered his licence and gave up driving on public roads.

97. If he reaches 100 next year he will receive a telegram of congratulations from his wife!

98. The code word for his funeral is ‘Forth Bridge’.

99. If he dies before the Queen, his body will be kept at the royal vault at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. They will then be buried together in the King George VI Memorial Chapel where the Queen’s parents are interred.

Phil Dampier is author of Prince Philip Wise Words and Golden Gaffes.

In more Royal Family news, Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Charles and the Queen have wished Prince Philip a happy 99th birthday with sweet photos.

And the Queen is always amused by Prince Philip’s ‘naughty’ sense of humour & he’s kept her smiling in lockdown, an expert has claimed.

Plus the thrifty Queen has worn the same jacket for 25 years – and even refused a free new one when it was offered.

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