Prince Philip: War Hero And Youth Ambassador

Hollie Thomas

As the news breaks that Prince Philip is to retire from public duties later this year, many will reflect upon his role as the Queen's consort and husband. Nonetheless, the Duke of Edinburgh is also a war hero, potentially saving many lives during the Allied Invasion of Sicily, and he has tirelessly pursued young people's development both at home and abroad.

When Clarence House announced the Duke of Edinburgh's retirement this morning, much of the media's attention turned to the Duke's sometimes controversial comments and public gaffes. The Duke of Edinburgh was, however, a First Lieutenant in the Royal Navy by the tender age of 21, and he can also be credited with thwarting the attempts of a Luftwaffe bomber to destroy the HMS Wallace during the Allied Invasion of Sicily.

As the Observer notes, Prince Philip's astute and cunning plan duped the enemy into bombing a burning raft instead of the HMS Wallace.

"It was then Philip conjured up a plan to throw overboard a wooden raft with smoke floats that would create the illusion of debris ablaze on the water. As he hoped, the German plane was fooled into attacking the raft while the Wallace sailed to safety under cover of darkness."
"Prince Philip saved our lives that night. I suppose there might have been a few survivors, but certainly the ship would have been sunk. He was always very courageous and resourceful and thought very quickly. You would say to yourself 'What the hell are we going to do now?' and Philip would come up with something."

Prince Philip Salutes As He Resumes His Attendance At The Officers Royal Naval School In 1947. [Image PNA Rota/Keystone/Getty Images]

Although originally intended to provide constructive activities for young people and to foster a sense of social responsibility among that age group, the award scheme also assisted many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

By 1980, the Duke of Edinburgh Award had extended the scheme to 25-year-old men and women, and the organization offered help and assistance to those young people who wished to start their own business. Today, the scheme assists young people from around the world, operating in more than 140 countries.

When participants have achieved the Gold Award, they are personally invited to St. James's palace, where Prince Philip presents them with their awards. Prince Philip has demonstrated steadfast support for young people's development for more than 60 years, irrespective of their nationality or position in society.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme saluted Prince Philip's devotion to the world's youth.

"HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has remained committed to the Award since its birth over 50 years ago. He continues to be involved, particularly in recognising the achievements of Award participants and the adults who support them."

(Featured Image by David Crump/Getty Images]