Prince Philip 'carried British passport No. 1' and more fascinating facts about the late royal

Prince Philip
(Image credit: Matt Dunham - WPA Pool / Getty Images)

Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died on Friday at 99, prompting a collective look back at his fascinating life.

Obituaries for the late Duke of Edinburgh walked through the late royal's life from his birth in 1921 to his service in World War II and his marriage to Queen Elizabeth II. He was born on the Greek island of Corfu on a dining room table, according to The Washington Post, and as an infant was "smuggled out of Greece in a fruit crate" while his father fled execution, The New York Times reports.

The obituaries were also filled with interesting little nuggets about him, including that he "carried British passport No. 1 (the queen did not require one)," as the Times wrote.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Philip instituted "efficiencies" at Buckingham Palace, including installing intercoms, and while he loved sailing, he "was said to have so little patience with horse racing that he had his top hat fitted with a radio so that he could listen to cricket matches when he escorted the queen to her favorite spectator sport," the Times said. He was also the "first member of the royal family to do a televised interview," according to NBC News.

His large personal library was "particularly illuminating" of him and his interests, the Post wrote, as it reportedly included "560 books on birds, 456 on religion, 373 on horses and 352 on the navy and ships." Speaking of which, a report in The Sun once claimed Philip was an "avid reader of books about UFOs and aliens."

Of course, obituaries for Philip also took note of his reputation for offensive sexist and racist comments, with BBC News writing, "That he could be rude, startlingly so at times, there is no doubt." Historian Sarah Gristwood told NBC, though, "He helped create the model of the British royal family that has enabled it to continue forward into the 21st century. We may have lost sight of that now, but I hope we'll remember him for it."

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us