World

Prince Philip was the gruff figure at heart of Britain’s monarchy

London, April 9

A blunt-speaking naval officer who as Queen Elizabeth’s dutiful consort helped modernise the British monarchy, Prince Philip might be best remembered for his gruff public persona.

Outspoken and irascible, Philip lived in the shadow of the woman he married at Westminster Abbey in 1947 and always walked a step behind the Queen at the thousands of ceremonial events they attended during her reign, the longest in British history.

Though he had no official role, Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was one of the most influential figures in the royal family for more than 70 years. He died aged 99 on Friday.

While Philip was often criticised for his demeanour and sometimes brusque remarks, friends said that as Queen Elizabeth II’s closest confidant he brought wit, impatient intelligence and unflagging energy to the monarchy.

“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,” Elizabeth said in a rare personal tribute to Philip during a speech to mark their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.

“I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”