By Aileen Atcheson
Prince Philip, married to Queen Elizabeth of United Kingdom, has represented the British monarchy for 70 years until he died within the last twelve months. He has represented the monarchy as an unchanging institution in a world that has changed beyond recognition.
This security is in sharp contrast to his early life.
His life was filled with neglect, tragedy and endurance. He was born in Greece during a turbulent time for Greece. His stay there did not last long. After the Greco-Turkish war 1919-1922, Philip’s father was arrested as part of the September 1922 Revolution. This was a revolt of the Greek Army against the government. It led to the Greek monarchy’s downfall and King Constantine’s abdication.
His wife, Princess Alice, asked her British relations for help. King George V must have been haunted by the fact of not allowing the Russian Czar asylum in England during World War I. A Greek court banned Andrew from Greece for life. He with his wife and family were evacuated from Corfu, Philip being carried out in a cot made from an orange box.
For years afterwards he had no proper home. His mother Alice, who was deaf, had a nervous breakdown and was placed in a Swiss sanatorium. Philip had four sisters. Between 1930 and 1931 each married into German nobility, all of who had connections with the Nazi party. One was a liaison between Hitler and Mussolini. Another was attached to Himmler’s personal staff. In May 1937, Cecilie and her husband Georg, Duke of Hesse, were killed in a plane crash. Their funerals became a Nazi pageant.
Prince Philip walked next to Prince Christoph who wore his SS uniform. Philip wore the brown shirt of the SA. There were messages of condolences from Hitler and Goebbels. Ten years later Philip married Elizabeth, daughter of King George VI. His surviving sisters and their husbands were not invited to the wedding in an effort to prevent the people remembering, in some cases being informed, of his past. The horrors of the Nazi regime had by then been made known.
Philip joined the British Navy and was involved in battle off the main coast of Greece. For his efforts he was awarded the Greek Cross of Valour. Once the War was over, Philip thought he could continue his naval career but fate deemed otherwise. Much of this, his past, had to be covered up in the early years of his and Elizabeth’s courtship and marriage.
Even members of Royal families have troubles and secrets which have to be hidden.