Prince Philip: most memorable achievements, from life in the Royal Navy to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award

Prince Philip died at the age of 99, but the Duke of Edinburgh leaves behind an impressive legacy, having had several memorable achievements throughout his life

Known for his charity work, Prince Philip was involved in setting up the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, as well as being a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund. He also served in the Royal Navy in the Second World War.

Here are some of Prince Philip’s most notable achievements.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) is the most lasting legacy of Prince Philip (Photo: Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) is the most lasting legacy of Prince Philip (Photo: Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) is the most lasting legacy of Prince Philip (Photo: Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) is the most lasting legacy of Prince Philip.

First conceived by the Duke in the autumn of 1954, his Royal Highness wanted to bridge the gap between leaving formal education at 15 and entering National Service at 18.

The idea was to inspire young men to make the best use of their free time, find interests and acquire self-confidence and a sense of purpose that would support them into their future.

The first Duke of Edinburgh programme was launched in 1956 and after the first year, 7,000 boys took part with 1,000 awards achieved.

In the 1980s the age limit was extended so that any young person aged 14-24 could take part.

DofE programmes now offer a four-section format of Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition, with an additional Residential section at Gold level.

The Duke of Edinburgh programme is now available in over 130 countries and territories as part of the DofE International Award Foundation.

In the UK in 2019/20, 295,490 young people started a DofE programme and a record 159,051 Awards were achieved through schools, colleges, universities, youth clubs, businesses, housing associations, young offender institutions, voluntary organisations and more.

World Wildlife Fund

The Duke of Edinburgh was a co-founder and the first president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) from its foundation in 1961 to 1982.

The WWF was established in 1961, where Prince Philip became the president of the British National appeal. The WWF was created to secure the funding necessary to protect places and species that were threatened by human development.

The organisation was inspired by a series of articles in a UK newspaper written by Sir Julian Huxley about the destruction of habitat and wildlife in East Africa.

Today, the WWF continues to be an independent conservation organisation active in nearly 100 countries, that works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife.

The Duke of Edinburgh was also President of the World Wildlife Fund-International from 1981 to 1996.

Service in the Royal Navy

The Duke of Edinburgh served in the Royal Navy, joining as a cadet in 1939.

He took part in active service during the Second World War in HMS Ramillies, HMS Valiant and HMS Wallace.

He was on active service in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered on VJ Day, as part of the crew on HMS Whelp as First Lieutenant. The crew helped to recover Prisoners of War.

The Duke recalled his experiences of that historic day in a BBC interview recorded in 1995. He said: “While we were there, the first of the atomic bombs was dropped.”

"Almost immediately, we sailed from Guam to re-join the big American fleet off Japan of which the British Pacific fleet formed one task group out of six.

"We hung about there until the second bomb was dropped and then it was announced that the Japanese decided to cease hostilities - they didn't actually surrender [on 14 August].”

During the 1995 interview, Prince Philip recalled witnessing the formal signing of surrender on 2 September 1945.

"Being in Tokyo Bay with the surrender ceremony taking place in the battleship which was, what, 200 yards away,” The Duke said. "You could see what was going on with a pair of binoculars."

The Prince was also a keen aviator, with over 5,500 hours of flying in 59 types of aircraft to his name.

A distinguished Polo career

Prince Philip had a lifelong passion for polo, which saw him involved in the sport for more than 60 years.

The Duke was introduced to the game in the 1950s and was instrumental in reviving it on English soil. The prince formed the Windsor Park team, as well as playing in many other squads.

He went on to win some of the game’s most prestigious cups, including the Gold Cup - British Open Championship - in 1957 and 1966.

Prince Philip continued to play until 1971, when arthritis forced his retirement. Although, he continued to play a role in the sport as president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

During his time in the role, the Prince involved himself in drafting rules for international carriage competitions – a sport where a driver sits in a vehicle, or carriage, drawn by horses.

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