Prince Philip ‘put generals through their paces’ with active Armed Forces work

Prince Philip 'put generals through their paces' says Charles

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In the special documentary aired last night in memory of Prince Philip, Prince Charles spoke of his father’s “inordinate interest” in the British Armed Forces, and his commitment to engaging with active servicemen and women. During his lifetime, the Duke of Edinburgh had a successful naval career, and went on to hold a number of honorary military positions. A member of his household staff also revealed that the late prince wished to “understand what they have to go through”, when greeting military personnel.  

Alexandra McCreery, an archivist for the Duke of Edinburgh’s office, said: “I think one of the reasons that he learnt to fly was so that he could confidently wear the uniform of the RAF, and be able to look the pilots in the eye and understand what they have to go through, and I think the servicemen appreciated that.”

Prince Charles continued: “Well he took it very seriously, the fact that he was involved in the three Armed Forces, the three services.

“Obviously, the Navy was his main service, but he took an inordinate interest in everything to do with the other two, and you know, he read up an awful lot and thought about it, and so he certainly put a lot of the generals and others through their paces, if you know what I mean.

“He’d always thought of a better way of doing it.”

Prince Philip began his military career in 1939, when he began as a cadet at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. 

During the Second World War, he saw active service aboard the battleship HMS Valiant, and the destroyer HMS Wallace, participating in the Battle of Crete and the Allied invasion of Sicily. 

Despite marrying King George VI’s eldest daughter and heir to the throne in 1947, he continued his naval career and was posted as the first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers. 

He was promoted to the role of commander in 1952, but by then had retired from active service in order to dedicate himself to royal duties. 

As a senior member of the Royal Family, Prince Philip held a number of honorary military appointments, including Admiral of the Sea Cadets, Admiral of the Fleet, Captain General Royal Marines and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. 

In 1975, he was also appointed Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, a role he bequeathed to his son Prince Andrew in 2017. 

To celebrate his 90th birthday, the Queen appointed him Lord High Admiral. 

After learning to fly, he obtained his private pilot’s license as well as his Royal Air Force wings in 1953. By the time he retired from flying, he had obtained 5,986 pilot hours.

Prince Philip passed away on April 9 at the age of 99. In line with his wishes for a ‘fuss-free’ funeral, the service emphasised his close associations with the British Armed Forces and the Royal Navy. 


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Prince Philip is not the only member of the Royal Family to have close connections with the British Armed Forces. 

As monarch, Queen Elizabeth II is Colonel-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, and their corresponding regiments throughout the Commonwealth. 

The couple’s son Prince Andrew also saw active service during the Falklands War, and continued a successful naval career throughout the Eighties and Nineties. 

More recently, both Prince Harry and Prince William served in the Royal Air Force, with the Duke of Sussex undertaking two tours of Afghanistan. 

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