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Remembering Prince Philip, Husband Of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, And His Decades-Long Role In The Monarchy

Prince Philip and Patt Morrison
Prince Philip and Patt Morrison
Patt Morrison

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Prince Philip, the irascible and tough-minded husband of Queen Elizabeth II who spent more than seven decades supporting his wife in a role that both defined and constricted his life, has died, Buckingham Palace said Friday. He was 99.

His life spanned nearly a century of European history, starting with his birth into the Greek royal family and ending as Britain’s longest serving consort during a turbulent reign in which the thousand-year-old monarchy was forced to reinvent itself for the 21st century. He was known for his occasionally deeply offensive remarks - and for gamely fulfilling more than 20,000 royal engagements to boost British interests at home and abroad. He headed hundreds of charities, founded programs that helped British schoolchildren participate in outdoor adventures, and played a prominent part in raising his four children. 

Philip saw his sole role as providing support for his wife as she confronted the changing demands placed on a constitutional monarch who began her reign as Britain retreated from empire and steered the monarchy through decades of declining social deference and U.K. power into a modern world where people demand intimacy from their icons. Over the course of the decades, Philip’s image changed from that of a handsome, dashing athlete to arrogant and insensitive curmudgeon. Many Britons appreciated what they saw as his propensity to speak his mind, while others criticized behavior they labeled as racist, sexist or out of touch. Still, many believe he was one of the few figures in the queen’s life who was able to speak plainly to her and provide unvarnished advice.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll look back on Prince Philip’s historic life and his impact on the British monarchy.

With files from the Associated Press


Patt Morrison, columnist for The Los Angeles Times and expert on the U.K. royal family; she tweets @pattmlatimes