Prince Philip gets brand new title for his 90th birthday
Prince Philip received a new royal title from his wife Queen Elizabeth II as a gift on his 90th birthday yesterday, as the outspoken consort said he would finally scale back his workload.
The Queen made him Lord High Admiral – the titular head of the British Royal Navy and an office until now held by her – partly in recognition of the promising seafaring career Philip gave up to spend a lifetime at her side.
The gruff patriarch, the longest-serving consort in British history, opted to spend his birthday with a typical lack of fuss, as he hosted a charity reception and chaired a conference for military colonels.
Despite remaining sprightly for his age, if not the dashing blond naval officer of more than five decades ago, Philip admitted he would now take a step back from official duties.
“I reckon I’ve done my bit. I want to enjoy myself a bit now, with less responsibility, less frantic rushing about, less preparation, less trying to think of something to say,” he told the BBC.
“On top of that my memory’s going, I can’t remember names. I’m just sort of winding down.”
There has been speculation he could hand over some of his duties to his grandson Prince William’s new wife, Catherine.
Since marrying the then princess Elizabeth in 1947, Philip has carved out his own role supporting the monarch, accompanying her on visits around the world and jollying people up with his off-the-cuff remarks.
Some have been near the knuckle.
On a visit to China in 1986, he warned a group of British students: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” And he told a British student who had trekked in Papua New Guinea in 1998: “You managed not to get eaten, then?”. But in a sign of the public affection for him, the palace revealed that almost 2,000 birthday cards had been sent to the duke from across the globe, including New Zealand and Australia, Italy, Poland, France and Germany.
Known officially as the Duke of Edinburgh, he is patron of some 800 organisations, covering fields including conservation, design and developing life skills among youngsters.
Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark, a nephew of Greek king Constantine I, was born on a kitchen table on Corfu on June 10, 1921.
After a turbulent childhood, Lieutenant Mountbatten, as he became, married Elizabeth but his stellar progress in the Royal Navy, including service in World War II, was halted when his wife became queen in 1952.
He told ITV it was “disappointing”, but “being married to the queen, it seemed to me that my first duty was to serve her in the best way I could.”
Buckingham Palace said in a statement that the award of the title of Lord High Admiral was a “gift to The Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of his 90th birthday”, and that an official ceremony would take place at a later date.
The Queen has held the title, which dates back to the 14th century, since 1964.
Canada also named Prince Philip an admiral and general in the Canadian Armed Forces for his birthday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, praising his “significant contribution to our national life”.
The Queen is Canada’s head of state.
Yesterday Philip was also honoured with a 62-gun salute and the striking of a Royal Mint coin with his image on one side and the Queen’s on the other.
Famous gaffes delivered by the Duke of Edinburgh
Duke of Edinburgh’s most famous gaffes:
“British women can’t cook.” (in Britain in 1966).
“What do you gargle with, pebbles?” (speaking to singer Tom Jones after the 1969 Royal Variety Performance).
“I declare this thing open, whatever it is.” (on a visit to Canada in 1969).
“Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed.” (during the 1981 recession).
“If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.’’ (at a 1986 World Wildlife Fund meeting).
“Yak, yak, yak; come on, get a move on.” (shouted from the deck of Britannia in Belize in 1994 to the Queen who was chatting to her hosts on the quayside).
“We didn’t have counsellors rushing around every time somebody let off a gun, asking `Are you all right? Are you sure you don’t have a ghastly problem?’ You just got on with it.” (about the Second World War commenting on modern stress counselling for servicemen in 1995).
“How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?” (to a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland, during a 1995 walkabout).
“If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?” (in 1996, amid calls to ban firearms after the Dunblane shooting).
“Bloody silly fool!” (in 1997, referring to a Cambridge University car park attendant who did not recognise him).
“It looks as if it was put in by an Indian.” (pointing at an old-fashioned fusebox in a factory near Edinburgh in 1999).
“Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf.” (to young deaf people in Cardiff, in 1999, referring to a school’s steel band).
“They must be out of their minds.” (in the Solomon Islands, in 1982, when he was told that the annual population growth was five per cent).
“You ARE a woman, aren’t you?”(in Kenya, in 1984, after accepting a small gift from a local woman).
“If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” (to British students in China, during the 1986 state visit).
“Your country is one of the most notorious centres of trading in endangered species in the world.” (in Thailand, in 1991, after accepting a conservation award).
“Oh no, I might catch some ghastly disease.” (in Australia, in 1992, when asked to stroke a Koala bear).
“You can’t have been here that long - you haven’t got a pot belly.” (to a Briton in Budapest, Hungary, in 1993).
“Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?” (to a wealthy islander in the Cayman Islands in 1994).
“You managed not to get eaten, then?” (suggesting to a student in 1998 who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea that tribes there were still cannibals).
In Germany, in 1997, he welcomed German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at a trade fair as “Reichskanzler” – the last German leader who used the title was Adolf Hitler.
“You’re too fat to be an astronaut.” (to 13-year-old Andrew Adams who told Philip he wanted to go into space, Salford, 2001).
“Do you chaps still chuck spears at each other?” (In Australia in 2002, talking to a successful aborigine entrepreneur).
“You look like a suicide bomber.” (to a young female officer wearing a bullet-proof vest on Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, in 2002).
“Do you know they ’re now producing eating dogs for anorexics?” (to blind woman Susan Edwards outside Exeter Cathedral, 2002)
“I’m just a bloody amoeba.” (on the Queen’s decision that their children should be called Windsor, not Mountbatten).
“Gentlemen, I think it is time we pulled our fingers out.” (to the Industrial Co-Partnership Association on Britain’s inefficient industries in 1961).
“Are you asking me if the Queen is going to die?” (on being questioned on when the Prince of Wales would succeed to the throne).
“If the man had succeeded in abducting Anne, she would have given him a hell of a time while in captivity.” (on a gunman who tried to kidnap the Princess Royal in 1974).
“If it doesn’t fart or eat hay, she’s not interested.” (on the Princess Royal).
“When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.” (on marriage).
“Where did you get that hat?” (supposedly to the Queen at her Coronation).
“It’s a pleasant change to be in a country that isn’t ruled by its people.” (to Alfredo Stroessner, the Paraguayan dictator).
“Well, you didn’t design your beard too well, did you?” (to designer Stephen Judge about his tiny goatee beard in July 2009).
“There’s a lot of your family in tonight.” (after looking at the name badge of businessman Atul Patel at a palace reception for British Indians in October 2009).
“Do you work at a strip club?” (to 24-year-old Barnstaple Sea Cadet Elizabeth Rendle when she told him she also worked in a nightclub in March 2010).
“Do you have a pair of knickers made out of this?” pointing to some tartan (to Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie during a papal reception in Edinburgh in September 2010).