Photo credit: ABC
Prince Philip’s death on Friday, April 9th, was a blow to many. Lately on Twitter he’s been called “The Iron Duke.” He did seem indestructible, didn’t he? Today I’m remembering him with a list of the best books about him.
This one is very old now, but still a good read. It shows Philip in a good light, to be sure, but it’s still very fun. “Most people think Dickie is my father.” [Dickie being “Uncle Dickie” Mountbatten]. There is a cute scene with the three boys “all call him Papa, all kiss him good-bye.” Edward was about 5 at the time. Used copies are around for a reasonable price. Prince Philip: An Informal Biography by Basil Boothroyd.
This is one of the best portraits of Philip as a husband and parent. You can believe what you choose about his supposed affairs. I think, like Eleanor once said about FDR and Princess Martha of Norway, [their story is playing now on PBS’s Masterpiece] “There was always a Martha.” Philip may have had affairs–that was between him and Her Majesty. He liked women. No crime. His wife was very busy. There is plenty of evidence that they each had their own friends and interests as anyone does in a healthy marriage. I’m not saying what I believe. I do know that one supposed affair was with the daughter of his aunt’s former long-time lover. Do your own math. Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Royal Marriage by Gyles Brandreth.
You cannot hope to appreciate Philip without first knowing a bit about his parents. His father was nearly shot for Greece’s part in a war. His mother was deaf and then endured a breakdown that was not helped by Sigmund Frued. If he was a kid in public housing, Philip’s parents’ rights would have likely been terminated Instead, he went on to stay with his two even odder maternal uncles–one of whom had an immense collection of pornography and the other had one of the largest egos in the Royal Famil–with occasional holidays at the homes of his sisters or at Kensington Palace with his Grandmother–a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Along the way, Philip grew up. Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece by Hugo Vickers. (She was Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Queen Louise of Sweeden’s eldest sibling).
This one will be very controversial–READ WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN before flaming me.
IN NO WAY was Philip, a LOYAL officer of His Majesty’s Navy during World War II a Nazi. But, just as he was left a near orphan by his mother’s crisis and his father’s departure, so too were his sisters–one of whom married at 16. Like most Princesses of their generation (his two eldest sisters were nearly the age of his mother-in-law), they were married to other minor royals. It was not considered acceptable that they could marry commoners. They got stuck on the wrong side of the war. Before the war, Philip was in-and-out of their homes on his school holidays. In fact, he briefly attended Salem, the German equivilent of Gordonstoun which is housed in the home estate of one of his sister’s husband’s family. It is a tad awkward that Nazi big-big shots were at one of the sister’s weddings and that a telegram from the Furher was read out, but royalty mostly married royalty in that era. Contrary to the ridiculous fiction of The Crown on Netflix, Philip was never blamed for his nearest sister’s death. Royals and The Reich by Jonathon Pertropolos.
Two New Books
Hours before his death, I received this on Net Galley–obviously, I have not yet had time to read it yet. Philip, Prince of Greece by John Carr.
Ingrid Seward runs Majesty magazine. Do not look for balance here. She writes very uncritical books about royals. Uncritical except in a very polite way. Always worth a read, regardless. Prince Philip Revealed came out last year and My Husband and I is older. Both are by Ingrid Seward.
This biography is fair. The book on his mother, Princess Alice, is better. Prince Philip by Philip Eade.
An Old Family Memoir
This memoir by his paternal cousin (who often was confused with his other cousin Princess Alexandra of Kent) showed a youthful Philip having fun before his marriage. I read this in the early 80s–it was fun. It is not easy to find today.