Prince Philip and the modernisation of the British monarchy

Prince Philip was a guiding force in the modernisation of the monarchy throughout the 20th century.

In many ways, the longest serving consort to a British monarch spent his life looking ahead by making the royal family more accessible to the public.

When Queen Elizabeth first took to the throne, the young couple at the time represented a more modern monarchy which created a more human image.

Author of the 2011 biography: Young Prince Philip, His Turbulent Early life, Philip Eade said: “Perhaps because of his premature loss of his cherished professional career, Philip seemed determined to show that he was nonetheless still a man.

“He envisaged a less stuffy and more popular monarchy, relevant to the lives of ordinary people.

“Elizabeth’s transformation owed much to the strength and sense of stability that she derived from their marriage.”

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The Duke of Edinburgh was paramount in influencing the way Queen Elizabeth ruled, beginning with her 1953 coronation which he insisted was televised.

This engagement was not favoured by Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister at the time, but the initiative was a success, as 20 million people across the globe tuned in, enabling the public to directly engage with the ceremony.

John Fraser, master emeritus at the University of Toronto’s Massey College said: “That really pushed the royal family into the world’s consciousness like it had never been before.

“He was a protector of the royal family. He was probably very crucial in sustaining it through this long, long reign, through all sorts of crises.

“He interested himself in stuff that wasn’t really up the Queen’s alley, such as the buildings at Buckingham Palace and so on.”

Philip worked tirelessly for the monarchy, retiring at 96, and in total he completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952, according to the Palace calculator.

He was the first person to have computers in his office at Buckingham Palace, a nod to his high work ethic.

In May 1961, he became the first member of the British royal family to appear in a televised interview in a Panorama broadcast, which was a significant step in modernising the monarchy.

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The concept behind the 1969 documentary on the royal family tried to humanise the royal image, granting viewers access to a personal look at his life with the Queen and their four children.

The intimate documentary included Prince Philip handling a barbecue, providing a rare glimpse behind the palace walls.

You can check out all of SWL’s Prince Philip coverage here.

Featured image credit: humberpike via Flickr

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David William berry
David William berry
9 April 2021 1:12 pm

God speed to you prince Philip .I know it’s in vain to speak you have given so many people so much hope you have given so many Young children a time to shine with your generosity please rest in peace x

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