Prince Philip, Husband of Queen Elizabeth, Dead at 99

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband of more than 70 years, has died, Buckingham Palace announced via Instagram on Friday. He was 99.

“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 post read. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”

“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss,” the statement continued, adding that “further announcements will be made in due course.”

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The prince’s death comes after several health scares in recent years. Most recently, he was hospitalized in February and taken to the King Edward VII Hospital in London. In a statement, Buckingham Palace noted that it was “a precautionary measure” on the advice of his doctor after not feeling well.

He was later transferred from King Edward VII’s Hospital to another London facility, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, with the palace noting that he was continuing to be treated for an infection in addition to undergoing testing and a procedure for a pre-existing heart condition. He left the hospital in March after a 28-day stay.

Prince Phillip officially retired from public duties in 2018. Ongoing struggles with his health forced him to cancel multiple public appearances including the Royal Maundy Service at St. George’s Chapel in 2018, which he pulled out of after experiencing trouble with his hip. He also skipped an Easter Sunday services at the chapel, although the Queen and Prince William and Kate Middleton were in attendance. Prince Phillip underwent hip surgery in April 2018.

Despite the rigors of advanced age, Philip remained a stalwart presence in royal family life. In a portrait painted by Australian-born artist Ralph Heimans marking the year of Philip’s retirement and released in December 2017, the Duke of Edinburgh is shown in full regal glory in The Grand Corridor at Windsor Castle. He is depicted “wearing the sash of the Order of the Elephant, Denmark’s highest-ranking honour,” and a nod to Philip’s Danish heritage. The portrait is on display at the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark.

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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrated their 73nd wedding anniversary in November 2020 with a sweet portrait of them admiring a card made by the three children of Prince William and Kate Middleton — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. In 1947, the then-Princess Elizabeth married a dashing naval officer named Philip Mountbatten, who renounced his Greek and Danish titles upon the marriage. 

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Some around the royal court thought he might be a little too dashing and called him a “viking god,” according to one of the queen’s bridesmaids, Margaret Rhodes.

“Well, he really was so good looking,” Rhodes said.

How did the marriage work so well for so long? According to friends like Gyles Brandreth, the secret was division of labor.

“So essentially the queen has always worn the crown and Prince Philip was allowed to wear the trousers,” Brandreth said. “She was the frontwoman. She is the person that people around the world know. It’s her face that’s on the postage stamps, but behind the scenes, he was there at every turn,” Brandreth added.

A shared sense of humor may also have helped. Philip played a unique role in the queen’s life, according to royal writer Roya Nikkah.

“The queen has spent seven decades living in a world where everyone says ‘yes’ to her. Philip is someone who can be completely forthright and tell her how it is,” Nikkah said.

On their 70th anniversary, the queen knighted Philip, giving him the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, which recognizes distinguished personal service to her.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s retirement was announced in May 2017, when royal staffers were brought in from all over the United Kingdom for the news, raising concerns over the health of the queen. All focus quickly turned to Prince Philip, however, after he announced his upcoming retirement. “His Royal Highness… has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year,” according to a statement from Buckingham Palace. “In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of the Queen.” 

In August 2017, Philip undertook his official final engagement, a parade to commemorate the end of the 1664 Global Challenge, a series of strength and endurance challenges that benefit charity. He tipped his hat while greeting those around him; Buckingham Palace noted that Prince Philip carried out 22,219 solo engagements and 637 solo overseas visits since 1952 in addition to authoring 14 books and delivering 5,496 speeches.

The duke celebrated his 95th birthday in June 2016, commemorating the milestone with a sweet portrait taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz for Queen Elizabeth’s Vanity Fair spread.

“He has quite simply been my strength & stay all these years,” Her Majesty said of her husband at the time, according to the royal family’s official Twitter account. 

In June 2020, he celebrated his 99th birthday at Windsor Castle with the queen, where they had been quarantined amid the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier that month, the royal couple posed for a new portrait to mark the occasion.

Royal expert Katie Nicholl told ET that he was enjoying being out of the public eye with his wife.

“I’m told they’re surrounded by a very small team of staff. Just a handful of staff between the two of them, which must be quite enjoyable for them not to have the formality of so many courtiers which is what the queen is used to when she’s at Buckingham Palace,” Nicholl said at the time.

Prince Philip is survived by his children, Prince Charles of Wales, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, along with several grandchildren — including Prince William and Prince Harry — and great-grandchildren, including William and Kate’s children as well as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son, Archie. 

See more on the royal family in the video below.

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