- BBC World News
Although he only lived there for the first 18 months of his life, Prince Philip’s bond with Greece accompanied him throughout his life.
The queen’s husband Isabel II, who passed away on Friday at the age of 99, was born on the Greek island of Corfu on June 10, 1921 eight years after the murder of his grandfather, King George I of Greece.
The only male child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg, Philip was born in the palacio of Mon Repos, which is now a museum and a century ago was the summer residence of the Greek royal family.
His stay in Greece was short.
When he was just 18 months old, the family had to flee the country after a military coup and Prince Andrés, Felipe’s father, was sentenced to death.
They accused him of being one of the main responsible for the disastrous campaign of the Greek army in Turkey.
In a fruit box
Under pressure from the United Kingdom, the sentence was not carried out, provided that Andrés from Grecia will be exiled from the country forever.
These were turbulent times for the Greek monarchy, with the abdication of King Constantine I, which gave way to the short reign of George II (1922-1924).
Philip’s journey from Greece to his arrival at Buckingham Palace many years later began like this in 1922, in a crib made from a box of oranges where the baby slept while the British warship that rescued them sailed the Adriatic and carried the family to Italy.
On their getaway they had the help from King George V of England, first cousin of Prince Andrew.
The monarch’s determination to save them was due in large part to his remorse at not having been able to help another direct first, Tsar Nicholas II, during the Russian Revolution five years earlier.
The family ended up settling on the outskirts of Paris, in a country house owned by Felipe’s aunt.
After spending a few years in France, the family nucleus was unraveling.
Prince Andrew settled in Monte Carlo and Felipe, the youngest of the five children, was the one who grew up the farthest from his parents, being educated in boarding schools in Scotland and England.
For their part, the prince’s four sisters married German nobles who were mostly sympathizers of the emerging German National Socialist movement.
A lonely childhood
Felipe’s childhood was fragmented and marked by a series of family losses and tragedies.
In 1930, when he was 8 years old, his mother was admitted to a psychiatric facility after suffering a nervous breakdown.
Felipe saw little of his parents in the years that followed. His father retired in France, on the Côte d’Azur, and his mother’s relatives in the UK helped in his upbringing.
Later he would adopt their surname, Mountbatten, the English form of the family name Battenberg.
Felipe spent his teenage years boarding at a Scottish school, Gordonstoun.
Its founder and director was the pioneering Jewish educator Kurt Hahn, who was expelled from Germany for condemning the Nazis.
Hahn and Gordonstoun provided Prince Philip with a much-needed sense of stability after the various upheavals of his childhood.
But his last years there were overshadowed by the death of her sister Cecilie and her family in a plane crash on their way to London to attend a family wedding in 1937, it was Hahn’s turn to break the news to Felipe, 16 years old, who would never forget the “profound shock” upon hearing what happened in the principal’s office. Perhaps more resilient than most children from the other blows he had suffered in life, “he did not collapse,” as Hanh later recorded .
“His pain was that of a man,” he said.
Six months later, Felipe suffered another loss: that of his guardian Georgie Milford Haven, who died of cancer at 45 years of age.
His mother’s problems
But Felipe’s ties with Greece were never broken because it was the home of his mother, who had a life full of ups and downs.
Deaf from 4 years old, Alice of Battenberg (1885-1969), Great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, They took her for a girl with intellectual difficulties because no one recognized what was happening to her.
The young woman learned eight languages through lip reading.
In 1902 she met Prince Andrew, the fourth son of King George I of Greece, whom she married a year later in the German city of Darmstadt, before settling in the Greek royal palaces.
During the Balkan wars (1912-1913) she worked as a volunteer nurse for the Red Cross, but after she left for France, her situation plummeted again.
Her relationship with the prince deteriorated to such an extent that she was admitted to a sanatorium after what Sigmund Freud He will diagnose schizophrenia and apply electroshock therapy.
When she finally left the sanatorium, she separated from her husband and returned to Germany.
Meanwhile, Felipe was studying in England, France and Germany, and at 18 years old, se alistor in the British Royal Navy.
Return to greece
The future Duke of Edinburgh returned to Greece with the intention of living with his mother, who had returned to that country a year earlier to work with the poor.
He could only be with her for a month as his uncle, King George II of Greece, asked him to return to the United Kingdom to continue his service in the Navy.
Prince Philip fought during World War II while his mother continued in Nazi-German-occupied Greece.
After liberation, Alice of Battenberg worked decades as a nun and tried to establish a monastery in the Greek town of Tinos.
In 1947, the princess attended the wedding of Prince Philip with the then Princess Elizabeth of England and also attended the queen’s coronation a few years later.
Finally, in 1967 the Prince of Edinburgh moved her to Buckingham Palace, where he died two years later.
Waiver of title
Felipe’s “official break” with Greece occurred on November 21, 1947, before marrying Elizabeth II, when he renounced his royal title Hellenic.
He then adopted his mother’s family surname (Mountbatten) and became british citizen.
Now, after knowing the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, in their native country they had a memory for him.
The President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, shared a photo of a young Philip wearing the distinctive uniform of the Evzone Guard, a ceremonial unit that today still protects the Greek Parliament.
“The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, who was born in Corfu, served his country with devotion for many decades. I extend my deepest condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the members of the British Royal Family and the British people.” said the Greek president.
The mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, also expressed in a statement his “deep sadness” over the death of Prince Philip.
He said that the life of the Duke of Edinburgh “serves as example of tenacity and adaptability in the face of adversity“, and extended his condolences to Prince Charles, who visited the city on March 24.
“Greece is the land of my grandfather and my father’s birth, almost 100 years ago, in the centenary year of Greek independence,” declared the eldest son of Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, recalling his family’s exile paternal.
“Greece has long occupied the most special place in my heart“.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.