Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth known for his dapper dress and controversial sense of humor, has died aged 99, a few months short of his 100th birthday.
Buckingham Palace said Friday, “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.” The Palace said he “passed away peacefully” Friday morning at Windsor Castle. He had been hospitalized earlier this year, undergoing surgery for a pre-existing heart condition and had returned home last month.
Philip married the young Princess Elizabeth in 1947, six years before her coronation, and was a constant companion, adviser and father to their four children. On their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997, the Queen described Philip as “quite simply, my strength and stay all these years.”
She said during a speech marking the anniversary that “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.”
Born on the Greek island of Corfu into the Greek and Danish royal families, Philip joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, and later became a British citizen.
In between raising the couple’s four children — Princess Anne, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — he undertook more than 20,000 solo engagements on behalf of the royal family since the early 1950s.
He retired from public life four years ago, aged 96, although he attended certain public events from time to time. Philip would have turned 100 years old on June 10.
Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty magazine and author of “My Husband and I” (Simon and Schuster), about the marriage of the Queen and Prince Philip, said at the time that the duke’s decision to retire was understandable.
She said he had to make a “supreme effort to get up in the morning and get dressed. He’s up at 5 a.m. for a 10 a.m. appointment, and while he’s cosseted and has a lot of help, it still takes a lot of mental effort” to get going, she said in an interview in 2017.
Seward said his retirement was a loss. “He will be sorely missed — he has contributed so much to the world,” she said, adding that he was one of the first public figures to warn about climate change and overpopulation, and to talk about the importance of environmental conservation. “He was way ahead of his time.”
The prince was a patron, president or a member of more than 780 organizations and continued to support them after his retirement. He is best known for founding the Duke of Edinburgh Award and for steering the World Wildlife Fund. He was the first president of WWF-UK from its foundation in 1961 to 1982 and resident of WWF-International from 1981 to 1996. At the time of his death, he was president emeritus of WWF.