Posted by: SJS | April 9, 2021

Prince Philip — WWII service in the Royal Navy

Prince Philip in WWII

The world woke up to the news today that England’s Prince Philip–the husband of Queen Elizabeth–had passed away at age 99. He lived a long life, most of which was overshadowed by his role in the English royal family. I knew that Philip had served in the British navy during WWII and the news of his death prompted me to take a closer look at his naval career.

As it turns out, Philip was a highly capable and courageous officer in the Royal Navy. His ability to utilize searchlights to target enemy vessels gave his crewmates an advantage during nighttime encounters.

In one celebrated incident in 1943, he defended his ship from a Luftwaffe bomber that clearly had his vessel in its sights. Demonstrating enormous grace under pressure, Philip led his crewmates in hauling a wooden raft across the deck and throwing it overboard with a smoke floater on it, billowing clouds of thick, dense smoke. When the raft hit the water, it burst into flames. The flaming raft drew the attention of the approaching German bomber, distracting it from an attack on the ship.

In the accounts I read, Philip had hoped to make a lifetime career in the Royal Navy. The ascension of his wife to the English throne in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI, however, caused a major change in plans. Philip and Elizabeth had been married since 1947. As the husband of the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth, Philip’s duties became focused exclusively on the ceremonial aspects of life in the royal family.

I’m sure that there were more than a few times over the past 69 years that Philip wished he were on a naval vessel far, far away from life at Buckingham Palace.

Philip’s wartime service in the Royal Navy was admirable and earned him the respect and esteem of his crewmates. Philips naval career is a potent reminder of the valiant work performed by all the sailors who served in the Allied naval forces during World War II.

May he rest in peace.

Prince Philip in later years


  1. Great tribute to a man we know so little of…

  2. Very nice tribute.

  3. Nice recap of the Prince’s career Steve. Great stories (the decoy burning raft!) I’d never heard before. We’ve been watching the Netflix series ‘The Crown’ snd didn’t see mention of it there either! Good sleuthing my friend! Keep on writing! Jay

  4. […] Prince Philip — WWII service in the Royal Navy — PT Boat Red […]

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