Prince Philip Dies At Age 99 As Queen Elizabeth II's husband, Prince Philip was the longest-serving consort in British history. He died Friday at Windsor Castle.

Great Britain's Prince Philip Dies At Age 99

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Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died this morning at Windsor Castle. Queen Elizabeth's husband was 99 years old. Prince Philip was the first male royal consort since Queen Victoria's time and the longest-serving consort in British history. Vicki Barker has this remembrance from London.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The royal family and Princess Elizabeth's fiance have permitted these special film studies to be made in response to the rapidly mounting worldwide interest in the forthcoming royal wedding.

VICKI BARKER, BYLINE: It was one of the first royal photo ops. Philip's 1947 wedding to the then-Princess Elizabeth also made him something of a pinup - a dashing young naval officer, then known as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And how they cheer the happy pair when they came out onto the balcony.


BARKER: By the wedding itself, Philip had renounced his royal titles and naval career, taken British citizenship and agreed that his children would carry his wife's family name of Windsor, not his - all part of the price tag for becoming a royal consort, says historian Karina Urbach.

KARINA URBACH: He must have regretted it a lot. It's a very privileged life, of course, but it was also a very boring life. It also meant that a man like him, who is an alpha man who wants to lead, who wants to be recognized in his own profession, you know, couldn't fulfil that.

BARKER: Philip was born in Corfu, Greece, into a deeply dysfunctional branch of the Greek royal family. His parents' marriage foundered when Philip was quite young, and he grew up couch-surfing between royal relatives all over Europe. He touched upon that rootlessness in a 1995 BBC interview when asked about his early career aspirations.


PRINCE PHILIP: I think it was inevitable that I was going to be in one of the services during the war. I mean, people of that age, we just did. But, I mean, before that it hadn't really occurred to me. I had vaguely thought, what could I do? But difficult being stateless.

BARKER: In the early years, the duke was considered a rebel and a modernizer, bristling at stuffy courtiers, allowing cameras behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace. But by the 1970s, Philip was widely seen as the crotchety, angular figure trailing his wife at royal walkabouts, emitting intermittent, much reported gaffes. He called Beijing a ghastly city while on a visit there. He asked a female navy cadet if she worked in a strip club. He congratulated a British backpacker in Papua New Guinea on managing not to get eaten. Historian Matthew Glencross believes many, if not most, were intentional.

MATTHEW GLENCROSS: The man was no idiot. The man knew when he was saying certain things. And I think he almost deliberately did it. He kind of enjoyed it because it provided the light side of a royal tour.

BARKER: If it bothered the queen, she never let on. Fifty years after their wedding, she indulged in a rare public pronouncement of royal affection.


QUEEN ELIZABETH II: He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments, but he has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years.

BARKER: Historians say Philip was always aware that, as royal consort, he had no constitutional role in British politics or public life. They say he was always careful not to cross that line. But this great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria devoted many hours to supporting British institutions. Britain has lost a devoted booster of its industry, technology and youth and a passionate advocate for the environment. Britain's queen has lost her closest companion and confidante and one of the last links to her life before the throne.

For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London.

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