We owe him a great deal

Publication Date10 Apr 2021
He vowed to "live and die for her" and, for 67 years, he honoured that pledge to his wife, his Queen and her people.

Just how much she relied on Philip became clear at their Golden Wedding celebrations in 1997.

She told the world: "He has, quite simply, been my strength and my stay all these years. I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know."

But his reply was just as telling - when the Duke praised her for having "tolerance in abundance".

The Queen certainly tolerated Philip's infamous irascibility and foot-in-mouth gaffes. One former member of the royal household said the Duke was "as constant a presence in our lives as the Queen, walking three steps behind her…

Dashing in uniform, 1946 … just with a lot less diplomacy".

He has, quite simply, been my strength and my stay all these years The Queen

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said: "Philip only ever had two aims: to support the Queen and the institution of monarchy, and these he succeeded brilliantly.

"He determined early on that he would never let Elizabeth down."

T" he couple spent theirfirst years of married life in Malta, where Philip was based as a naval officer. They were blissfully happy. Baby Charles arrived in 1948, followed by Anne in 1950. But these years of relative normality were cut short in 1952 when King George VI died and Elizabeth became Queen.

For loyal Philip, there was no question of not taking up his duties as consort, even though it meant he had to resign from the Navy.

Charles and Anne were joined by Andrew, born on February 19, 1960, and then Edward, on March 10, 1964.

After the Queen's "annus horribilis" of 1992, when Charles and Andrew's marriages ended and Windsor Castle was hit by a fire, Philip helped improve the royals' PR. It was his idea to open Buckingham Palace to the public to help pay for repairs at Windsor.

Philip was a man of contradictions. He was both an authoritarian and a caring hands-on dad, he was media-savvy but with a distrust of the press, a public figure who resented any curiosity about his life and a champion of the stif f upper lip who became devoted to the fragile Princess Diana.

His partnership with the Queen relied on a sense of humour and determination not to suffer fools gladly. He gave her the nickname "Cabbage", thought to have originated from the French phrase "mon petit chou", which means both "my little pastry puf" and "my little cabbage".

The pair...

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