Prince Philip turns 90

June 9, 2011 at 11:50 PM
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LONDON, June 9 (UPI) -- Prince Philip, the duke of Edinburgh, turns 90 this week, 64 years after his marriage to the future Queen Elizabeth II of Britain.

Prime Minister David Cameron paid an early tribute to the prince Wednesday in the House of Commons, the BBC reported. He praised Philip's service in the Royal Navy during and after World War II and his work as head of the World Wildlife Fund.

The prince planned to spend his birthday Friday hosting the Royal National Institute for Deaf People at Buckingham Palace. A private thanksgiving service is set for Sunday at Windsor Castle.

Cameron said the British people find Philip's blunt tongue "endearing," even when media reports describe his remarks as "gaffes." He quoted Philip on overly long church services: "The mind cannot absorb what the backside cannot endure."

In an interview with the BBC, Philip said he has "done his bit" and plans to cut back on his schedule. He still travels extensively with the queen, most recently to Ireland for her historic four-day visit.

While Philip's life since his marriage has been stable, his early years were anything but. He was born on the island of Corfu to Prince Andrew of Greece, but his father went into permanent exile when he was a toddler.

The Greek royal family was of Danish and German descent and Philip grew up without speaking Greek. He had no real home until his marriage, barely saw his mother during his childhood and went to schools in Paris, England and Germany before becoming a pupil at the Gordonstoun School in Scotland.

Philip met Princess Elizabeth, his third cousin and second cousin once removed, while he was at the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in 1939. They married in 1947, when he was 26 and she 21.

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