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King George VI’s deteriorating health in the 1950s left Prince Philip struggling to “reconcile” to the two directions of his life. The Duke of Edinburgh was forced to choose between his desire for a military and naval career and his duty to his wife, the soon-to-be queen. Royal commentators discussed the important moment in the senior royal’s life on a new Channel 5 documentary: ‘Philip: The King Without A Crown’.
Historian Professor Kate Williams said: “What he really wanted was to continue his highly successful naval career, and that meant a stint as an instructor.
“He found himself teaching in the aftermath of the war.
“That really wasn’t his thing, he wanted to be out there, commanding an active service.
“Desk jobs, teaching, administration, that really wasn’t the job he wanted.”
Royal biographer Hugo Vickers gave further insight: “The king’s health broke down very soon after the war.
“There were state visits when Princess Elizabeth had to make his speech.
“Visits when the Queen Mother would be greeting, as it were, the king of Norway, and the king didn’t even leave his room.
“So the ill health of the king curtailed Prince Philip’s naval career.”
Narrator Glynis Barber added: “Philip tried to reconcile being pulled in two directions at once between a desire to continue with the naval career he obviously loved and the duty to support his wife.
“As the king’s health worsened, Philip’s dual role became increasingly difficult to balance.
“It was decided that the young couple should undertake a tour of Commonwealth in place of the king.”
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Prince Philip joined the British Royal Navy in 1939 and married the Queen in November 1947.
When his wife ascended to the throne in 1952, he was forced to leave active military service.
The Duke had reached the rank of commander by that time.
He is the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch in history.
The retired royal is also the oldest-ever male member of the Royal Family.
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