There is a second in the first season of “The Crown” when the actor Matt Smith, as the perennially tetchy consort of Queen Elizabeth II, bristles at the constraints of his job. With a case of lockjaw extreme sufficient to trigger concern for his molars, Mr. Smith portrays the Duke of Edinburgh (whom the queen wouldn’t make a prince till 5 years after she succeeded to the throne) as an arch complainer, a person who views the 20th-century monarchy as little greater than “a coat of paint” on a crumbling Empire.
“If the costumes are grand enough, if the tiaras sparkle enough, if the titles are preposterous enough, if the mythologies are incomprehensible enough, then all must be fine,” says Mr. Smith, enjoying the man who would develop into Prince Philip. And, because it seems, the script obtained it largely proper. Prince Philip, who died at age 99 on April 9, could have been wrapped in a cloak of dramatic hooey to develop into a personality in the hit Netflix collection. Yet the function, as written, is rooted in established truth.
Headstrong by popularity, opinionated, notoriously brusque (and sometimes, in public, misogynistic and racist), Prince Philip was additionally in essential methods the mannequin of an organization man. By the time he stepped down from his official royal duties in August 2017, he had spent seven a long time obediently working for the Firm, a time period for the royal household credited to the Queen’s father, King George VI. Fulfilling the necessities of a job for which there isn’t a exact commonplace, except you take into account second fiddle a job description, the prince slogged by a staggering 22,219 solo public engagements over his lengthy lifetime. In doing so, he navigated the most difficult of company gown codes for greater than 65 years.
The transient was clear from the outset: The queen’s consort ought to be impeccable but unassuming, irreproachable in type with out drawing your eye away from one of the richest, and positively the most well-known, ladies on earth. If the garments Queen Elizabeth II wore in public have been engineered to fulfill programmatic necessities — vivid colours and lofty hats to make this diminutive human simple to identify; symbolically freighted jewellery (the Japanese pearl choker, the Burmese ruby tiara, the Obama brooch!); symbols and metaphors embroidered onto her robes — these of Prince Philip have been tailor-made to maintain him faultlessly inconspicuous.
As a clotheshorse, he had sure pure benefits, of course.
“He was staggeringly good-looking, tall and athletic,” stated Nick Sullivan, the inventive director of Esquire. “That never does any harm when it comes to wearing clothes.”
Beyond that, although, have been a collection of assured and realizing selections. For a long time, the prince’s fits have been made for him by John N. Kent, a Savile Row artisan who started his tailoring apprenticeship at 15. The prince’s shirts got here from Stephens Brothers, his bespoke footwear from the century-and-a-half previous boot maker John Lobb. In the neatly folded white handkerchief Prince Philip habitually squared off in his breast pocket (one other was saved in his trousers) may very well be seen a telling distinction with the dandyish puff of silk favored by his eldest son.
Unlike different members of the royal household whose tastes run to pricey baubles and superb Swiss timepieces, Prince Philip habitually wore “a plain watch with a brown leather strap,” as the Independent as soon as reported, and a copper bracelet meant to ease arthritis. He left his giant arms free of jewellery and roughly manicured.
If he seemed finest in sporting garments, it was as a result of he was a real sportsman, captain of each the cricket and hockey groups at boarding faculty in Scotland, a polo participant nicely previous his 40s, an lively participant in worldwide teaching competitions till late in life.
He was additionally the solely member of the Firm’s inside circle earlier than Meghan Markle to have been foreign-born. This, too, could have given him a method benefit since it’s typically true that outsiders can convey a contemporary eye to staid sartorial conventions, each enlivening and enhancing them. (It took the Japanese to elucidate denim to Americans and the Neapolitans to exhibit for the English tips on how to good English type.)
Search on-line and you’ll not discover a picture of Prince Philip committing a method solecism. There is rarely a novelty tie or a humorous hat. For that matter, and besides on compulsory state events, there’s little sufficient of the comedian operetta regalia beloved of Prince Philip’s uncle, Louis Mountbatten, the First Earl Mountbatten of Burma — no braiding, no frogging, no sashes or fringed and gilded epaulets.
The paradox of Prince Philip’s life could have been that, as the husband of a queen and father of a future king, he was important to energy though insignificant to its workings. And he typically jokingly disparaged himself as the “world’s most experienced plaque unveiler.” Yet it was in all probability in that function that he did his finest work for the household enterprise, since a glimpse of this elegant and diffident man was the closest most Britons would ever come to royalty’s attenuated realities and burnished grandeur. In that sense, Prince Philip was by no means “dressed,” in any standard method a lot as he was outfitted for objective.