Friday, April 9, 2021

Prince Philip: An Appreciation


all photos  Marlene A Eilers Koenig

There will be many articles in the days to come examining the life of the late HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.  He was the longest ever consort of an English or British sovereign.  He was a descendant of Queen Victoria as is his widow -- I hate writing this word -- Queen Elizabeth II.   They were married for 73 years.

In the 1980s and 1990s, I covered royal visits to the US for a British magazine, Berkswell's The Royal Year.  Prince Philip visited the US on numerous occasions and it was a delight to write about his visits -- and to take photos as well, although I did not have a fancy camera at that time.

My mom thought he was so handsome when he was young.  She was right.  He was dishy.

The late Duke of Edinburgh was aware of my research into the descendants of Queen Victoria, which led to three books, all titled Queen Victoria's Descendants.    His Private Secretary at the time was always able to get the answers to questions that I posed to the Prince. 

The London bookstore Hatchards is one of my favorite places to visit in London.  The store manager spotted me during one visit.  He walked over to tell me that Prince Philip had recently ordered several copies of my book to give as gifts.

Well, that made my day.

In May 1991, Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.  I was at the White House for their arrival -- and yes this was the event of the Talking Hat.   I am short so I managed to get a photo of the Queen's face, and not merely her hat.

An off-the-record press reception was held at a local hotel in Washington, D.C., hotel.  No photos, but one hoped one would get presented.  

I was presented to the Queen first.  It's true. you do not remember what the conversation was about.  I did curtsey and she shook my hand.

Several deep breaths followed. I turned my attention to finding Prince Philip.  My eyes scanned the room. It took only a few seconds to spot him   I made my way to where the Prince was chatting.  I was in the line - and then, there he was standing in front of me.  

One of the British Embassy officials introduced me to HRH.  I curtseyed.  We chatted a bit and I said rather casually: "I correspond with your sister, Princess Sophie."

Prince Philip responded:  "Yes, she warned me about you."  It was said with humor as he was familiar with my work.  He shook my hand before turning to the next person in line.

A day or two later,  I received a letter from Princess Sophie, which was written on Windsor Castle stationary.  I had written to her some weeks earlier with a few questions and the news that I would be covering the state visit and received invitations to the press reception and the Garden Party at the British Embassy (where I ran into a friend, Crown Prince Alexander, and his wife, Crown Princess Katherine.  I was standing next to the Crown Prince and Crown Princess when the Queen walked by. She stopped immediately to greet her godson (they kissed each other on the cheek) and, much to my delight, the Crown Prince called the Queen  'Lilibet'.

Princess Sophie answered my questions and added that she had told the Queen and Prince Philip that I would be at the reception.

So Philip did know who I was.  Nearly 30 years later,  the meeting between HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh still brings a smile to my face.

Washington, DC Congressional Award  1996

Washington National Cathedral

Conserving our Heritage seminar at National Cathedral, May 1990

Planting a tree at the National Cathedral in May 1990. Spade was first used in 1919 by the Prince of Wales (Duke of Windsor)

State visit May 1991

NYC 1980s

June 1991

Diamond Jubilee  Flotilla  2012

St Paul's  2016

Garden Party at British Ambassador's residence  1991

Garden Party

Congress  1991  


Donna said...

What lovely memories that you absolutely deserve because of the excellence and thoroughness of your research. It is no wonder HRH was proud to present your work to those he be-gifted.

Mikel S. said...

Lovely memories and lovely photos, Marlene. It just reminded me of my own when I met both the Queen and Prince Philip back in my 20s. I was quite exited to meet the Queen and didn´t even think of him being there so it came as a surprise when he approached our group and started chatting. I have no vivid memory of the Queen of that day apart from shaking her hand and her very pale make-up but as you say, I cannot help but smiling remembering every word he said. He was an extraordinary human being and it showed even in a brief unexpected encounter. May he rest in peace.

Eva said...

Thank you so much Marlene for sharing your experiences and the lovely photos.

When I was 14, I was fortunate enough to see the Queen and the Duke close up on their state visit here in 1980. I was able to take a gorgeous photo of the Queen smiling straight at me. Unbenownst to me, my husband, who was in the police force at that time and who I wasn't to meet until seven years later, was in the local security detail for the visit and was also able to take close up photos. So it was a memorable occasion for both of us which I treasure to this day (my husband sadly passed in 2014).

R.I.P. Prince Philip.

jhlucien said...

Lovely memories and photosMarlene.

Thank you for sharing.

R.I.P The Prince Philip.

Memory Eternal