The Duke of Edinburgh and the Armed Forces

The Duke of Edinburgh had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy from joining at Dartmouth in 1939 where he won the prize for best cadet, then swiftly rising through the ranks to serve as First Lieutenant during the Second World War. Find out more about His Royal Highness's Naval Career.

Although Prince Philip gave up his active naval career in July 1951, he remained closely connected to, and actively interested in, every branch of Service life. 

In 1952 he was appointed Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps. 

The following year His Royal Highness was appointed to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet and appointed Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. 

He was also Captain-General of the Royal Marines and Colonel-in-Chief, or Colonel, of a number of British and Commonwealth regiments. 

Throughout his public life, His Royal Highness regularly visited these Regiments both at home and on operational duties overseas, showing his support for servicemen and women of all ranks, and their families.


From 1974 until 2015 he was Grand President of the Royal Commonweath Ex-Services League.

The Duke of Edinburgh formally opened The Royal British Legion's annual Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey for a number of years. His Royal Highness met veterans from conflicts past and present as well as family members who had lost loved ones in service of their country.

In 2011, to mark his 90th birthday, The Duke of Edinburgh was appointed Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy by Her Majesty The Queen.

In 2016, in celebration His Royal Highness’s 95th birthday, The Massed Bands of the Royal Marines performed their world-renowned Beating Retreat on London's Horse Guards Parade. The Duke was their Captain General.