Every visit to Windsor Castle is special but now more than ever with the current display, Prince Philip: A Celebration. We recently visited the exhibition which commemorates the remarkable life and legacy of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Britain’s longest serving consort.
Through more than 120 objects, Prince Philip: A Celebration charts significant events and achievements in The Duke of Edinbugh’s life, including his early life and naval career, his role as consort, his support for the sovereign at home and abroad, and his wide-ranging patronages and associations.
The display is located in St. George’s Hall and the Lantern Lobby. Looking back at the devastating fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, we are reminded of Prince Philip’s extraordinary achievements as Chair of the Restoration Committee. He was instrumental in helping Windsor Castle rise up from the ashes and poetically, there is a large fragment of a burnt wooden beam on display which was salvaged from the debris by His Royal Highness.
On public display for the first time, is a striking portrait of Prince Philip painted by Ralph Heimans in 2017, the year of His Royal Highness’s retirement from public engagements. The painting, shows His Royal Highness standing in the Grand Corridor at Windsor Castle.
A highlight of the display is a section bringing together for the first time items relating to Prince Philip’s role in The Queen’s Coronation of 1953. The Coronation Robe and Coronet worn by Prince Philip during the service is on display, alongside His Royal Highness’s Chair of Estate (usually located in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace).
Prince Philip was always a progressive thinker, whether it be technology, engineering or furniture, and he was passionate about modern design. In 1956 he invited the architect Sir Hugh Casson to redesign his study at Buckingham Palace, incorporating contemporary furniture, a modern television set, a tape deck, turntable and radio, and automated curtains, and it’s truly fascinating to see these original design sketches.
Gifts presented to Prince Philip during State Visits, overseas tours and official engagements demonstrate the extent of His Royal Highness’s travel in support of Her Majesty The Queen. Examples include a First Nations feather headdress presented to The Prince during a Commonwealth visit to Canada in 1973; a wine cooler in the shape of a giant grasshopper presented by President Pompidou of France in 1972; and the steering wheel from the Lotus 79 driven to victory by Mario Andretti in the 1978 F1 World Championship, presented to His Royal Highness during a visit to Lotus Cars in 1979.
To accompany the exhibition, there is also a beautiful souvenir publication Prince Philip 1921–2021: A Celebration. The book explores the major events in Prince Philip’s life, from his birth in Corfu, his education and wartime service, to his marriage to The Queen and his patronage of more than 750 organisations.
Poignantly, the exhibition was originally intended to mark Prince Philip’s 100th birthday on June 10, sadly a milestone he did not reach. A fitting tribute not to be missed.