His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh during a walkabout on Canada Day in Ottawa, July 1, 2010.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, also known as Prince Philip, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in Corfu on June 10, 1921. He is the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.

Early life and education

When the Greek monarchy was abolished in the early 1920s, the Duke's family was forced into exile King George V ordered the evacuation of the family, and so in December 1922, the 18-month-old prince was carried to safety in a cot made from an orange box.

The family settled in Paris, and Prince Philip was educated in France, England and Germany.

Military Service

After leaving school, Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy. He graduated in 1939 from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, as the best cadet in his course.

Prince Philip served on the HMS Valiant during the Second World War and was awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour. In July 1942, he was promoted to lieutenant, and appointed First lieutenant (second in command) of the destroyer HMS Wallace, which took part in the Allied landings in Sicily.

In 1952, His Royal Highness was promoted to Commander, but his naval career came to an end upon the death of his father-in-law, King George VI, and The Queen's subsequent accession to the Throne.

Marriage and family

In 1940, at the age of 18, Prince Philip was introduced to royal circles by his uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten. During this time, the young prince met the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth, his third cousin. Queen Victoria was great-great-grandmother to both of them.

When the Second World War began, Prince Philip departed the U.K. in order to serve in the navy. On his return in 1946, he began courting the young princess. Their engagement was announced 18 months later, and their marriage took place in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947.

Following a successful naval career during which he saw active service, the Duke of Edinburgh began to focus on his work in support of The Queen following her Accession in 1952.

In May 2017 The Duke of Edinburgh decided, with full support of The Queen, to retire from official public engagements.

Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh have four children:

Military appointments and charitable work

The Duke of Edinburgh holds many Canadian honorary military positions. He is Colonel-in-Chief of the following units in Canada:

  • The Royal Canadian Army Cadets (1953)
    Ottawa, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Regiment (1953)
    Petawawa, Ontario / Oromocto, New Brunswick
  • The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (The Duke of Edinburgh’s Own) (1967)
    Ottawa, Ontario
  • The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada (1967)
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment) (1978)
    Hamilton, Ontario
  • The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada (1967)
    Vancouver, British Columbia

Other military honorary positions:

  • The Royal Canadian Air Cadets (Air Commodore-in-Chief) (1953)
    Ottawa, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Sea Cadets (Admiral) (1953)
    Ottawa, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Air Force (General) (2011)
  • The Canadian Army (General) (2011)
  • The Royal Canadian Navy (Admiral) (2011)

The Duke of Edinburgh serves as patron or president of close to 800 organizations. These reflect his interest in science and technology, sports, youth, conservation and the environment.

More than forty of these organizations are in Canada.

Royal Patronage – Canadian Organizations

The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award

The Duke of Edinburgh presents young Canadians with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, 2010.

In 1956, His Royal Highness launched the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award in the United Kingdom in order to encourage and support the personal development of young people.

Since then, more than four million people in more than 60 countries have participated in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award challenge, making it one of the most successful youth programs in the world.

The Award in Canada was officially launched in 1963 for Canadians age 14-25. An estimated 500,000 young Canadians have participated in the program since 1963, making a difference in their own lives, local communities and around the world.

Special Honours

The Duke of Edinburgh receives the Companion of the Order of Canada from Governor General David Johnston, 2013.

Credit: Cpl Roxanne Shewchuk, Rideau Hall © OSGG-BSGG, 2013.

In 2013, The Duke of Edinburgh was appointed as a Companion of the Order of Canada and Commander of the Order of Military Merit in recognition of his keen interest in the personal development of young people, through the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, his connection with the Canadian Armed Forces and through his many visits to Canada, both on his own and with Her Majesty The Queen. He has shown a lasting interest for Canada and all Canadians.

Tours of Canada

Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Canada for the first time in 1951, as part of a five-week cross-country tour. Since then, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness have maintained close ties with Canada. They have completed 22 royal tours in Canada since The Queen's accession to the Throne.

The Duke of Edinburgh has also visited Canada many times on his own, participating in activities that highlight the patronages and military regiments that he supports. His last visit to Canada was in 2013 before he retired from public life in 2017.

In Winnipeg, The Duke of Edinburgh is introduced to Ovide Mercredi former Chief of the Misipawistik Cree Nation and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, 2010.

The Duke of Edinburgh presents new colours to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment during his solo visit to Canada, 2013.

Canadian Heritage Resources

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