Royal rescue: How Queen’s grandfather saved Prince Philip’s life before engagement exposed

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have been one of the most solid couples within the Royal Family, with their marriage spanning over 70 years and surviving royal scandals and crises. But the royals we know today may never have come to exist hadn’t Her Majesty’s grandfather, King George V, helped save Prince Philip and his family from potential death. A new France 3 documentary exposed how the life of the now-Duke of Edinburgh was saved when the King of England dispatched the British Navy to rescue Philip and his family from certain death as his father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, faced the risk of execution following the September Revolution of 1922.

Royal expert Isabelle Rivère said: “George V sent off a military ship, the Calypso, to look for Alice, Andrew and their five children to repatriate them in the UK.

“And later one of the sisters of Prince Philip said, talking about their escape, ’I remember when we left the house there was a strong smell of burning because Mother asked us to burn all our personal papers before we left.’

“Prince Philip abandoned the isle of Corfu in a box of oranges.”

George V personally intervened to rescue Prince Philip’s family due to his mother, Princess Alice, being by birth a member of the British Royal Family as the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

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The British monarch had previously failed to save his cousin, Tsar Nicholas III of Russia, after being forced to withdraw an offer to evacuate his family in the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The Imperial Family was later killed by the revolutionary forces, possibly prompting George V to ensure he could rescue Princess Alice with her husband and five children during the Greek Revolution.

Prince Andrew of Denmark and Greece later moved his whole family to Paris, where Prince Philip began his education at the American school The Elms before moving for the first time to England to continue his education at Cheam School.

Due to his sisters marrying into the German nobility during the 1930s, Philip was then transferred to the Schule Schloss Salem in order to “save schooling fees” as the family of one of her siblings, Princess Theodora, owned the school.

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The young prince returned to the UK in 1934 to follow his former headmaster Kurt Hahn to the newly-created Gordonstoun after the Jewish teacher was forced to flee to Scotland due to Nazism.

Philip later joined the Royal Navy and continued his education at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. It was at the college a young Princess Elizabeth first met her future husband.

The couple confirmed their engagement in 1947 and tied the knot at Westminster Abbey on November 20 the same year. 

Prince Philip renounced his Danish and Greek titles before the wedding and became His Royal Highness Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh.


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Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip welcomed two children in quick succession, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, spending the early years of their marriage in Malta as the Duke of Edinburgh continued to serve in the Royal Navy.

The couple later welcomed two more sons, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, in 1960 and 1964 respectively and have since added eight grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the royal brood. 

Prince Philip officially retired from public duty at the age of 95 and has since appeared alongside the Queen on a few family occasions such as the wedding of their grandchildren Prince Harry and Princess Eugenie in 2018.

The Duke of Edinburgh sparked concerns ahead of Christmas when Buckingham Palace announced the Prince had been taken to hospital but later confirmed he was being monitored for a “pre-existing condition”.

He returned to Sandringham to spend the rest of the Christmas break with the Royal Family. 

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