Friday, May 9, 2008

This just in from our London correspondent...

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is the husband and consort of Queen Elizabeth II, monarch over what's left of the once grand and glorious British Empire ruled over by their shared great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Elizabeth and Philip have been married for 61 years. Born Prince Philip (Philippos, actually) of Greece and Denmark on June 10, 1921, he married Princess Elizabeth, the heiress presumptive, on November 20, 1947. In February, 1952, Elizabeth became queen (I believe the correct phrase is "ascended to the throne") upon the death of her father, George VI.

Originally a royal Prince of Greece and Denmark, Prince Philip renounced these titles shortly before his marriage. At the time of his engagement he was known as Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten of the British Royal Navy. Prince Philip is a member of the Danish-German House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, which includes the royal houses of Denmark and Norway and the deposed royal house of Greece.

The day before Philip married Elizabeth, King George VI granted him the style of “His Royal Highness” and, on the morning of the marriage, created him Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. In 1957, Philip was created a Prince of the United Kingdom by Queen Elizabeth II (as a tenth-anniversary present, maybe?). When he became a British subject, Prince Philip took the surname Mountbatten, which is an anglicised version of his mother's German family name, Battenberg. Later it was realized that, as a descendent of Sophia of Hanover, Philip was a British citizen from birth anyway.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about him in the minds of Anglophiles everywhere (well, in my mind at least) is that he has one name and one name only, the singular and solitary Philip, which means “lover of horses.” (Some of you may remember from my April 29th post “The Celebration Continues!” that Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary of Teck, was christened Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes.) The British royal family do love names. Philip and Elizabeth have four children, all of whom received multiple names.

There is enough stuff in this post to keep any trivia nut happy for a very long while. Thank you, wikipedia (augmented by me).

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