An exhibition opens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh next week with official and personal objects telling the story of the life and achievements of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The duke died on April 9 this year, two months before what would have been his 100th birthday. It’s likely that a celebration of this kind would have happened to mark that milestone.

A linked exhibition opened at Windsor Castle last month, with each looking at aspects of the duke’s life that are particular to each location.

There are more than 150 objects across both sites, with Holyroodhouse exhibiting objects commemorating his naval career, the Royal Yacht Britannia, his marriage to the then Princess Elizabeth, his connections to the city of his dukedom, and his collection of Scottish contemporary art.



From the days before he had any notion that he would become the longest-serving consort, this midshipman’s log comes from the period when he served on the HMS Valiant off the coast of Greece.

He joined Valiant at the end of 1940, a battleship that saw action off North Africa. It’s known for the victory over the Italian Fleet at Cape Matapan in March 1941.

He was mentioned in Despatches for “bravery and enterprise” in that victory, for controlling the battleship’s searchlights in the night action, and in this midshipman’s log book, he describes that role.

It is part of a wider section that looks at Prince Philip’s naval career, which began at the age of 17 when he arrived at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon.

His final public engagement was to review a parade by Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace in August 2017.



This painting was purchased by Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip in 1984.

Orr died in 2019 aged 87, and spent much of his later life in Ayrshire, having been born in Glasgow. He was known for his paintings of Scotland and Mallorca and exhibited through the UK and around the world.

Prince Philip was a keen collector of contemporary Scottish art, and between 1958 and 1996 he acquired a large number of works from the annual exhibitions of the Royal Scottish Academy.

Paintings from that collection, including works by Robin Philipson and this by James Orr, will be on display. Many reflect his interests in Scottish landscapes and wildlife.



"Looking back over 44 years we can all reflect with pride and gratitude upon this great ship which has served the country, the Royal Navy and my family with such distinction."

This is how The Queen said an uncharacteristically teary farewell to Britannia when it was decommissioned in 1997.

You can imagine, then, how the royal couple treasured this silver model of HMY Britannia produced by Garrard & Co and presented to The Queen and Prince Philip by Lloyd’s Register of Shipping in 1972.

With his naval background, Prince Philip took particular interest in this, the first royal yacht. It was a royal residence and entertained guests on foreign trips, but also hosted several royal honeymoons.

Britannia, now a popular tourist attraction in Leith, was built by Clyde shipbuilder John Brown & Co, and the name was kept secret until the Queen launched her with a bottle of Empire wine in 1953.



This stylish design for the sun lounge of the Royal Yacht Britannia is one of the sketches by Sir Hugh Casson on show at the Holyroodhouse exhibition.

A friend of the family, renowned architect Casson was commissioned to design the yacht’s entire interior. He also designed interiors for Buckingham Palace, Balmoral and Windsor Castle. He also designed sets for theatre and worked closely with Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

Born in 1910, Casson worked in architecture throughout his life and aside from his royal commissions, was appointed Director of Architecture for the Festival of Britain in 1951. The practice in which he was senior partner, Casson Conder, designed the Cambridge University Arts Faculty buildings and the Elephant House at London Zoo. Simultaneously he created and ran the school of Interior Design at the Royal College of Art in London.



Part of the Holyroodhouse exhibition is dedicated to the wedding of HRH The Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Mountbatten on November 20, 1947.

The invitation, order of service, and wedding breakfast menu are all on show, particularly relevant as this was the occasion when Prince Philip was granted the royal dukedom of Edinburgh. There are exhibits that illustrate the close links he felt with the city.

Always credited as being a keen moderniser of the family, it’s said that he was heedful of the fact that the country was still on rations. As far as is possible with a royal wedding in Westminster Abbey with 2500 guests, he was keen to keep spending to a minimum. He wore his naval uniform and it’s said his socks were darned for the big day.

The then Princess Elizabeth was given an extra 200 clothing coupons to make her dress.

Prince Philip: A Celebration is at the Palace of Holyroodhouse from July 23 until October 31. The palace is open five days a week, from Thursday to Monday. Visits must be booked. Tickets from 0303 123 7300. Adult £16.50, Disabled £9.50. Over 60 and student £14.90, Child (5-16 years) £9.50, Under 5 free. Tickets included in standard admission price to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

All pictures: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty the Queen 2021