Here’s What Prince Philip Really Did In The Royal Navy

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s wedding in November 1947 was a huge global event, with over 2,000 guests attending in person and countless millions listening to the service on radios around the world (via The Oprah Magazine). When the two announced their engagement, The Guardian praised their pairing as a genuine love match. “It is clearly a marriage of choice, not of arrangement… There have been many royal engagements in the past, but it would be hard to find a precise parallel for that of an Heiress Presumptive and still more for her choice as partner of one who is, technically at least, a British commoner.”

Before marrying the future Queen, Prince Philip enjoyed his own thriving career in the military. In fact, the Daily Beast shared that he served in World War II and participated in active duty; he was even awarded a medal owing to his ability to use searchlights in a way that “contributed to the devastating results.” Prince Philip was reportedly asked specifics about what action he took to merit the medal, telling his cousin that, “It was as near murder as anything could be in wartime. The cruisers just burst into tremendous sheets of flame.”

Prince Philip's time in the military was important to him

Prince Philip also helped defend his own ship during the Allied invasion in 1943. When a Luftwaffe bomber appeared to be on course to devastate the ship he and his crew mates were on, the Prince had an idea that required the crew to “throw overboard a wooden raft with smoke floats that would create the illusion of debris ablaze on the water” (via The Guardian). The ruse worked; the Germans began to attack the raft instead. 

Harry Hargreaves, who served alongside Prince Philip that day, recalled the scary incident. “There was no question but to accept that on the next run or the one after that we had little chance of survival. I had been through so much that the feeling of anger and frustration was as great as the fear I and everyone else felt … The first lieutenant [Philip] went into hurried conversation with the captain, and the next thing a wooden raft was being put together on deck,” he revealed. “Within five minutes they launched a raft over the side — at each end was fastened a smoke float. When it hit the water the smoke floats were activated and billowing clouds of smoke interspersed with small bursts of flame gave a convincing imitation of flaming debris in the water.”

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