He was the longest-serving consort in history, a man whose watchwords were duty and dependability.
All of the Duke of Edinburgh‘s four sisters were banned from attending his wedding, in large part because three of them – Cecilie, Sophie and Margarita – had married German aristocrats who became leading members of the Nazi party.
Princess Sophie was even friends with Hermann Goering – the future head of Nazi Germany‘s air force – and had both Goering and Adolf Hitler round for tea.
Prince Philip’s sister Princess Sophie is seen sitting opposite Adolf Hitler at the wedding of Hermann Goering
All of the Duke of Edinburgh’s four sisters were banned from his wedding, in large part because three of them – Cecilie, Sophie and Margarita – had married German aristocrats who became leading members of the Nazi party. Above from left to right: Princesses Sophie, Cecilie, Theodora and Princess Margaret
Philip’s real surname, Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, signified the German blood that ran through his veins.
His father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, was descended from the German ducal house of the same name.
Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenburg, also had German heritage and spent part of her childhood in the country.
The Duke of Edinburgh assumed his mother’s maternal surname – Mountbatten, an Anglicised version of the German ‘Battenberg’ – when he married Princess Elizabeth.
After Cecilie was killed in a plane crash in 1937, a 16-year-old Philip was famously pictured at her funeral in Germany walking alongside relatives in Nazi uniforms.
She was killed along with her newborn baby in Belgium aged just 26. The aircraft’s pilot had been attempting to land in thick flog.
The depiction in The Crown of the aftermath of her death was slammed by critics for wrongly suggesting that Philip was blamed by his father for her demise.
The connections between Philip’s family and the Nazis – facts that in no way called the Duke’s own honour into question – were explored in a Channel 4 documentary in 2014.
It revealed the contents of a memoir written by Princess Sophie in old age, in which she told of a private lunch with Hitler and how she thought he had seemed like a ‘charming and seemingly modest man’.
Prince Philip pictured (2nd right in the first full row), in the procession at his sister Cecilie’s funeral in 1937. On the right, in the uniform of the SA (Hitler’ militia that was known as the ‘storm division’ or ‘Brownshirts’), walks Prince Philipp von Hessen, brother of Philip’s brother-in-law, Prince Christoph, who is next in line in full SS regalia. The two other German brothers-in-law complete the row: Prince Gottfried of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Prince Berthold of Baden. In the row behind, wearing a deistinctive Royal Navy bicorn hat, is Lord Louis Mountbatten, Philip’s uncle
A solemn Prince Philip (in suit) is seen standing next to Lord Louis Mountbatten (in uniform) at his sister’s funeral
Four daughters: Prince Philip was raised separately from his four older sisters, pictured left-right: Sophia, Margarita, Cecilie and Theodora. The girls are pictured ahead of the 1922 wedding of Louis Mountbatten and Edwina Ashley, where they were bridesmaids
Troubles ahead: Philip, second from left, as a boy with his parents and four sisters, who adored him. They all married German aristocrats
She was married to Prince Christoph von Hessen, a colonel in the feared SS and chief of Hermann Goering’s secret intelligence service, which was responsible for spying on the Nazis.
In a sign of their devotion to Nazism, Sophie and her husband named their first son Karl Adolf, in honour of Hitler.
Sophie also told in her memoir of the social visits to her home from both Goering and Hitler.
Goering came for tea in her flat near Frankfurt before the Nazis got into power in 1933.
She wrote: ‘He talked a lot about the new political party which he had joined, the ‘Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei’.
‘He was very enthusiastic about it all, especially about the party leader, a man called Adolf Hitler.
‘As Germany was going through hard times and there was a lot of poverty and general dissatisfaction everywhere, we were interested to hear about the great improvements his party was planning to do.’
With Goering insistent that she should meet Hitler personally, the Nazi leader then also came to her flat.
‘I had been warned he was a vegetarian, and found it difficult to plan an appropriate meal,’ she added.
‘In those days we had a cook-housekeeper, which was just as well, as my ideas about cooking and housekeeping were fairly hazy (being only eighteen at the time).
‘We settled for an assortment of vegetables which turned out to be a great success.’
Sophie was careful to mention how she and her husband changed their view of Hitler ‘fundamentally’ later on, but said they were impressed ‘by this charming and seemingly modest man, and by his plans to change and improve the situation in Germany.’
Prince Philip with his sisters Margarita (left), Sophie (centre) and Theodora in October 1947, a year before his wedding
Prince Philip and his sister, Princess Sophie of Hanover when they attended the funeral of the Dowager Lady Brabourne and Nicholas Knatchbull at the Church of St John the Baptist at Mersham, near Ashford, Kent, in 1979
Prince Philip greets his sister Princess Sophie of Hanover and her husband Prince George of Hanover at a riding school in Munich in 1960
Princess Sophie of Greece, sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the wedding of Lord Louis Mountbatten to the Countess of Ashley in 1922
Princess Sophie is seen on her wedding day, when she married Prince Christoph of Hesse-Cassel
Princess Sophie of Greece and her husband Prince Christoph of Hesse-Cassel. The couple married in December 1930
Princess Theodora (left) and Princess Margarita (right) are seen as young women. Margarita died at the age of 76 in 1981, whilst Theodora was the second of Philip’s sisters to pass away
Philip’s oldest sister, Princess Margarita, who was 16 years older then her brother, married Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
Philip pictured as a little boy with his his mother Princess Alice of Battenburg and his father Prince Andrew of Greece
Princess Theodora of Greece and Count Berthold of Baden on their wedding day
The meetings prompted her husband to join the SS, and by 1935 he had been appointed as head of the air ministry’s research bureau, according to Princess Sophie.
That year, Sophie was pictured at Goering’s wedding, with Hitler seen opposite.
Eight years later, Prince Christoph was killed in a plane crash in 1943, after the Allied invasion of Sicily.
Philip’s oldest sister, Princess Margarita, who was 16 years older then her brother, married Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
He was badly wounded while fighting for Germany on the Russian front and ended up turning against Hitler.
The prince was then among the aristocratic German officers who were implicated in the 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler, which was led by Claus von Stauffenberg.
Cecilie had married George Donatus, the Grand Duke of Hesse in 1931 and they both later joined the Nazi party. The couple had four children.
The fourth, an unnamed son, is believed to have been born during the flight on which the 26-year-old Cecilie lost her life.
Donatus was killed alongside his wife and the plane’s other passengers.
Princess Theodora, who was 15 when Philip was born in 1921, was the only one of her brother’s sisters who was publicly opposed to Nazism.
Unlike her sisters, she and her husband were allowed to attend the the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
But all Philip’s siblings were excluded from the royal wedding in 1947, in large part because it was so soon after the war had ended.
In an interview for 2006 book Royals and the Reich, Philip said his family had found Hitler’s attempts to restore Germany’s power and status ‘attractive’.
‘There was a great improvement in things like trains running on time and building,’ he explained.
‘There was a sense of hope after the depressing chaos of the Weimar Republic.
‘I can understand people latching on to something or somebody who appeared to be appealing to their patriotism and trying to get things going. You can understand how attractive it was.’
But the Duke did insist that he had never been aware of ‘anybody in the family actually expressing anti-Semitic views’.
Prince Philip is seen with his sister Princess Sophie (both centre) in Germany in March 1953
Prince Philip prays alongside his sister Princess Sophie and Greek Orthodox priests outside the tomb of his mother Princess Alice in 1994
The closest sibling in age to Philip was Sophie, who was born in June 1914 – seven years before her brother.
After her husband Christoph’s death, she married Prince George William of Hanover, but the union was controversial.
With Prince George’s house of Hanover having been the royal house of England’s monarchy for more than two centuries until the death of Queen Victoria, the aristocrat sought permission from King George VI to go ahead with the engagement.
But because the UK was still at war, official permission was not given, although Sophie went on to tie the knot in 1946.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, wipes his eye as he sits next to his elder sister Princess Sophie in 1994 at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial
She had three further children with her second husband and passed away aged 87 in 2001, after becoming a confidante to Philip in later life.
She stayed at Birkhall with him and the Queen in the years before the Coronation and she visited Britain regularly, becoming godmother to Prince Edward.
Paying tribute to her after her death, Philip said: ‘She did so much kindness in her life that she stored up many gifts in Heaven and I hope she’s enjoying them now.’
Margarita died at the age of 76 in 1981, whilst Theodora was the second of Philip’s sisters to pass away. She was 63 when she died in 1969.