Buckingham Palace is reporting this morning that Prince Philip, the Duke Of Edinburgh, has died. He was 99. According to the BBC, the palace’s statement said: “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle… The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.” He had returned to the castle on March 16 after spending a month in the hospital.
Prince Philip rose to global prominence in 1947, when he married then-Princess Elizabeth. He was a member of both the Greek and Danish royal families, and the pair had first met in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina and Prince George. (She was 8, he was 13, and they were technically second cousins once removed as well as third cousins.) In 1939, while in the British Royal Navy, Philip was tasked with giving Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret a tour of the Royal Naval College, and the pair began corresponding shortly thereafter. He served with distinction in World War II, and was granted permission to marry Elizabeth once she turned 21. They wed in a lavish ceremony heard by more than 200 million people on BBC Radio around the world. Prior to the ceremony, he was named Royal Highness, as well as Duke Of Edinburgh, Earl Of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich.
Elizabeth and Philip had their first two children—Charles and Anne—before Elizabeth assumed the throne in 1952. Their third and fourth children, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, would follow several years after her coronation. Though traditionally the heir to the throne—in this case, Charles, Prince Of Wales—is traditionally at the queen’s side at ceremonial events, shortly after her ascension to the throne Elizabeth declared that Philip would have a “place, pre-eminence and precedence” at all events, except where barred by an act of Parliament. This has made him a more prominent British royal spouse than others previously in his type of role—a prominence heightened by the age of television and visual media.
At the time of Philip’s death, he’d been married to Queen Elizabeth II for more than 70 years, marking the longest relationship between a royal consort and a king or queen in the history of the British monarchy. When he retired from public duties at 96, he had completed over 22,000 solo engagements. He’s noted for his self-described nature as a “cantankerous old sod,” and for making ill-timed jokes at many of his public appearances.
Several actors have played Philip over the course of the prince’s life, to varying degrees of success. Most recently, Tobias Menzies and Matt Smith portrayed him on The Crown, with James Cromwell taking on the role in 2006’s The Queen.