Lifestyle

Inside Prince Philip's impressive library

Rare look inside Prince Philip’s private library: A Nigel Slater recipe book, a biography of his mother and comedy figurines of Prime Ministers remain on display in Buckingham Palace room that’s ‘untouched’ since his death

  • Last night’s BBC’s Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers gave a glimpse into Prince’s personal library 
  • Film was originally conceived to mark Duke’s 100th birthday in June but he died two months before
  • Includes portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, mementos from his travels around the world and various books
  • Library features royal biographies including a book on his beloved mother Princess Alice of Battenberg 

A documentary on the life of Prince Philip, aired on BBC One on Wednesday, offers a rare glimpse inside the Duke of Edinburgh‘s private library at Buckingham Palace – which remains exactly as he left it before his death.  

In Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, members of staff and senior royals paid tribute to the Duke – who died in April at the age of 99 – and gave an insight into his private quarters. 

The footage revealed a library boasting an impressive collection of literature, from cookery books to political memoirs and a biography of his beloved mother Princess Alice of Battenberg. 

Prince Philip also adorned his study with artwork and mementos from his travels around the world, keeping in it a photograph of the Queen and a model of HMS Magpie, the only vessel he commanded. 

Last night’s documentary saw royal archivist Alexandra Mccreary offer a tour of his library at the palace, saying: ‘I think he read a lot so that he could converse with other people. He liked to engage, he liked to challenge.’ 

Scroll down for video 

In BBC documentary Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, which aired last night at 9pm, members of staff and senior royals paid tribute to the Duke – who died in April at the age of 99 – and gave an insight into his private quarters. Pictured: 1) Biography of his mother; 2) Books on birds and wildlife; 3) Books on the royal family; 4) His own writing; 5) Side table with treasures from his travels; 6) Hexagonal desk to foster discussion; 7) Cookery books; 8) World War Two books; 9) Political books; 10) Model of HMS Magpie; 11) Side table with portrait of the Queen; 12) Figurines of political figures from the 40s and 50s

An upcoming documentary on the life of Prince Philip gives a rare glimpse inside the Duke’s private study at Buckingham Palace, which remains exactly as he left it before his death. The Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April at the age of 99, conducted his affairs from a private office that connects to the office of his private secretary. In the BBC documentary Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, airing tomorrow at 9pm, members of staff and senior royals pay tribute to the Duke and give an insight into his private quarters.

1) A biography of his mother

Philip, who was born Prince of Greece and Denmark, kept a book about his beloved mother Princess Alice of Battenberg, alongside other royal biographies.

The Duke was the fifth child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and his wife, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who welcomed her son on the dining table of a villa in Corfu. 

Shortly after Prince Philip’s arrival, the royal family were exiled and, aged just 18 months, the future Duke of Edinburgh was bundled into a makeshift cot – an orange crate – as the family escaped on a British warship. 

Owing to his age, and status as the only son, Philip grew up apart from his sisters and his mother Princess Alice was largely absent from Prince Philip’s childhood.  

She survived revolution and exile, mental breakdown and religious mania, evincing great personal courage to protect a Jewish family during the war – before turning her back on the trappings of royal life to become a nun. 

Alice was a loving mother but enforced separation from her young son helped to forge Prince Philip’s self-reliant, sometimes cussedly independent spirit. 

2) Books on birds and wildlife

Stacked on the shelves of Philip’s library are books on wildlife and birds, a keen interest of the royal throughout his entire life. Prince Philip’s fascination with birdwatching began in 1956 during a voyage on the Royal Yacht Britannia between New Zealand and Antarctica when he started to photograph and identify native seabirds

Stacked on the shelves of Philip’s library are books on wildlife and birds, one of the royal’s most enduring interests. 

In 2020, Prince William took over from the Duke as Patron for the British Trust for Ornithology, which aims to empower communities to protect local bird species and their natural habitats. 

The Duke of Edinburgh was Patron of the BTO – which aims to ensure wildlife is preserved for generations to come – for over thirty years, and was a lifelong ornithology enthusiast.  

Prince Philip’s fascination with bird-watching began in 1956 during a voyage on the Royal Yacht Britannia between New Zealand and Antarctica when he started to photograph and identify native seabirds.    

3) Books on the royal family 

Philip, who was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, read histories of the British Royal Family – which he joined when he married the Queen in 1947. A staff member is pictured pointing out Philip’s histories of the royals 

Philip, who was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, also read histories of the British Royal Family – which he joined when he married the Queen in 1947. 

In the February before his marriage, Philip renounced his right to the Greek and Danish thrones to become a British subject, taking his mother’s surname Mountbatten.  

On the eve of his wedding at Westminster Abbey, he was designated a royal highness and was created a Knight of the Garter, Baron Greenwich, Earl of Merioneth, and Duke of Edinburgh. 

The couple’s first child and the future king of England, Prince Charles, was born in 1948, shortly joined by The Princess Royal – thought to be Philip’s favourite child – Prince Andrew and, later, Prince Edward. 

4) His own writing 

The Duke of Edinburgh published 14 books on various subjects from birds and conservation, philosophy and carriage-driving throughout his life – many of which featured on his library shelves

The Duke of Edinburgh published 14 books on various subjects from birds and conservation,  philosophy and carriage-driving throughout his life – many of which featured on his library shelves.   

In 1983, he published a series of essays in a book titled In A Question of Balance, sharing his take on issues from religion to nuclear power, and Marxism to social responsibility.   

Covering one of his favourite subjects – carriage driving – the Duke released a book titled Competition Carriage Driving in 1992, detailing rules of combined driving events.  

Four years later, he penned another book on dressage, this time discussing and explaining explain the meaning of the FEI rules for driven dressage. 

5) Side table with treasures from his travels 

On a side table in his library are various gifts and mementos from engagements across the globe, including 229 visits to 67 Commonwealth countries on solo visits without The Queen over a 67-year period between 1949 and 2016

Philip, who completed a total of 22,219 solo engagements and thousands more by the side of his wife, became the Queen’s consort when she acceded to the throne in 1952 and completed his last public event in August 2017.

On a side table in his library are various gifts and mementos from engagements across the globe, including 229 visits to 67 Commonwealth countries on solo visits without The Queen over a 67-year period between 1949 and 2016.

Among Philip’s various travel destinations was Vanuatu, a remote South Pacific village that worshipped the Duke as the reincarnation of an ancient warrior.

People from the Yakel village on the Vanuatu island of Tanna have for decades venerated Philip. The Prince Philip Movement is believed to have started in the late 1970s following a visit by the Duke of Edinburgh to Vanuatu in 1974.

6) Hexagonal desk to foster discussion 

In the middle of the duke’s impressive library is a hexagonal desk, used to discuss the various works of literature that filled his book shelves

In the middle of the Duke’s impressive library is a hexagonal desk, used to discuss the various works of literature that filled his book shelves. 

According to the BBC documentary last night, the duke ‘read a lot so he could converse with other people. He liked to engage, he liked to challenge’. 

The Duke had a love of literature and upon his death the Duchess of Cornwall shared a tribute with ‘great fellow reader’ Prince Philip as she launched the second season of her online book club. 

The Duke of Edinburgh, an avid reader, was the proud patron of Booktrust, the UK’s largest children reading charity, for several years before passing the role on to Camilla in 2011.  

7) Cookery books 

In Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers the Countess of Wessex revealed that the royal loved the Hairy Bikers cookery show and spoke about his love of barbecuing. On the left side of his book shelf, the duke kept cookery books

In last night’s documentary, senior members of the Royal Family came together to share memories that reveal Prince Philip’s domestic side – including his keen interest in cookery shows. 

So it’s no surprise that his library features various cookery books including one by Observer food columnist Nigel Slater. In Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers the Countess of Wessex revealed that the royal also loved the Hairy Bikers cookery show and spoke about his love of barbecuing. 

‘Cooking is something that I love talking to him about and he loves watching cookery programmes. Hairy Bikers I think is one of his favourites.’

‘He adored barbecuing and he turned that into an interesting art form,’ said Prince Charles. ‘And if I ever tried to do it, he… I could never get the fire to light or something ghastly so [he’d say] ‘Go away.’ ‘

‘Every barbecue I’ve ever been on, the Duke of Edinburgh has been there cooking,’ added William. ‘We go on barbecues and there’s no chef, there’s not anyone else… He’s definitely a dab hand at the barbecue. 

8) World War Two books

Prince Philip’s attachment to the Armed Forces predated even his 73-year marriage to his beloved wife the Queen and it’s no surprise that his library is littered with books about the Second World War. The duke had a collection of political figurines including L-R; Neville Chamberlain; Earl of Kilmuir; Churchill and Clement Attlee

Prince Philip’s attachment to the Armed Forces pre-dated even his 73-year marriage to his beloved wife and it’s no surprise that his library is littered with books about the Second World War.  

The Duke joined the Royal Navy in 1939 – the year the Second World War broke out – when he was still a teenager. By 1942, he had risen to the rank of First Lieutenant after bravely fighting in the Battle of Crete and the conflict at Cape Matapan.

His glittering career saw him amass a chestful of medals which he proudly displayed at numerous functions. The awards included decorations for bravery in the 1939-45 war, where he distracted Nazi pilots during a 1943 bombing raid by launching a raft with smoke floats. 

He was also Mentioned in Dispatches for his ‘alertness’ in helping to spot enemy ships. And in 1945, Philip helped to rescue servicemen who had to ditch into the ocean after their Avenger bomber was hit by enemy fire. 

But after the Queen acceded to the throne in 1952, four years after their wedding, Philip had to painfully give up his career in the Navy. 

9) Political books 

Demonstrated by his collection of political figurines (L-R; Geoffrey Howe, Nye Bevan, Rab Butler, General Montgomery) the duke had a keen interest in politics and has been outspoken throughout the years and read widely on the subject 

Demonstrated by his collection of Prime Minister figurines, the Duke had a keen interest in politics and has been outspoken throughout the years and read widely on the subject. 

‘He’s spoken frankly that the purpose of monarchy is to serve the people, not the other way around,’ royal expert Carolyn Harris told Town and Country magazine.  

While he had an interest in politics, the duke was not always politically correct – and he was known to the public for his unashamedly non-PC comments.  

The Duke realised his own capacity for making gaffes, and even had a word for it, ‘Dontopedalogy’. This he described as, ‘The science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science which I have practised for a good many years . . .’

10) Model of HMS Magpie 

On his bookcase sits a model of the HMS Magpie, the only vessel commanded by Prince Philip, who took command at the age of just 29 and was nicknamed ‘Dukey’ by his men

On his bookcase sits a model of the HMS Magpie, the only vessel commanded by Prince Philip, who took command at the age of just 29 and was nicknamed ‘Dukey’ by his men. 

Following his marriage in 1947 he was stationed in Malta and given command of the frigate HMS Magpie three years later. He was promoted to commander in 1952, though his naval career ended in 1951. 

Philip had gone from naval college to his own command in just 12 years, but by 1951 George VI was so ill that it was clear Princess Elizabeth’s life was about to undergo a fundamental change. She would need her husband’s full-time support. 

But Philip couldn’t bring himself to quit the Navy completely. When he gave up active service in July, 1951, it was called ‘indefinite leave’. He was still on it at his death. 

11) Side table with portrait of the Queen  

The duke kept a photograph of his wife, whom he enjoyed 74 years of marriage with, Her Majesty The Queen on a side table in his library

The Duke kept a photograph of his wife, whom he enjoyed 74 years of marriage with, Her Majesty The Queen on a side table in his library. 

Princess Elizabeth and Philip reportedly first met in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark and Prince George, the Duke of Kent, and fell in love five years later, at a pivotal meeting at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited with their two daughters. 

Their engagement of was officially announced on July 9, 1947 and the wedding took place just four months later on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey. 

In a letter to her cousin and lifelong friend the Honourable Margaret Rhodes, the Queen said of her life as a newlywed: ‘I’m blissfully happy, in case you weren’t aware of the fact and I’m enjoying being married to the best and nicest man in the world.’  

12) Figurines of political figures from the 40s and 50s 

In typical humorous fashion, the Duke owned large figurines of politicians and other high-profile figures, from the 1940s and 1950s, with large oversized heads including L-R; Neville Chamberlain; Earl of Kilmuir; Churchill and Clement Attlee

In typical humorous fashion, the Duke owned large figurines of politicians and other high-profile figures, from the 1940s and 1950s, with large oversized heads.

The figures, which can also be found in the Duke’s private study, include Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain and Clement Attlee.

The Duke was known for his cheeky sense of humour, and in his 70 years of public duty always brought a sense of fun, making members of the public, foreign dignitaries and his own family laugh and smile during outings.

Even as his health worsened, His Royal Highness never lost his sense of humour and was often pictured pulling very expressive faces and laughing and joking with his wife, children and grandchildren.

Source: Read Full Article