Is Prince Philip the Royal Family’s ultimate feminist?

The Duke of Edinburgh isn't someone who immediately springs to mind when it comes to being an advocate for feminism within the royal family. When Prince Philip married then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947, the world was a very different place.

When she acceded the throne in 1952, the Queen was surrounded by men in positions of power — in government, her staff and her advisers. While the country has changed beyond recognition, Her Majesty has remained a constant, and she was a world leader before any women were leading in the world. To many she is seen as a feminist icon because of that.

The fact that the duke has walked a few steps behind one of the most famous monarchs in history for nearly seven decades has made him somewhat of an "accidental feminist," asthe Times of London once described him.

The sudden death of King George VIin 1952 meant Elizabeth ascended the throne much earlier than expected. She and Philip were only five years into their marriage with two young children, Charles and Anne.

Everything changed for not only the then 25-year-old Elizabeth, but Philip too, who had worked his way up the ranks through the Navy, serving in the Second World War. While he was promoted to commander of the Royal Navy in 1952, his active naval career ended in 1951.

As well as giving up his career,Philipalso wasn't ableto pass his surname to his children. He had hoped that when his wife took the throne, his adopted last name, Mountbatten, would become double-barreled with Windsor.

But Winston Churchill insisted the royal familyshould remain the House of Windsor, although this was to be amended later. Philip reportedly said: "I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children."

After the Queen's coronationin 1953, Philip supported his wife in her duties as sovereign and did so until his retirement at the age of 96 in August 2017. Since 1952,he has completed 22,219 solo engagements. Because of the duke's steadfast devotion, some royal watchers now regard him as an unlikely early adopter of feminism.

Speaking on Yahoo UK's The Royal Box,Roya Nikkhah, royal correspondent for the Sunday Times, says: "I have to say, a man who in the early 1950s, who was soaring up to the top of the Navy and would have gone all the way to the top of the Navy, had he not had to give up his naval career, who wasn't even able to give his own surname to his children, who has literally stood behind his wife for pushing 70 years.

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FILE - In this Aug. 1951 file photo then Princess Elizabeth stands with her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne at the couple's London residence at Clarence House. Britain's Prince Philip on Wednesday Aug. 2, 2017 retires from solo official duties. Over the decades he has become renowned for his stalwart support of his wife, Queen Elizabeth II. (AP Photo, File)
The Duke of Edinburgh and his wife Princess Elizabeth leave the Guildhall, where he received the Freedom of the City of London.
Princess Elizabeth and Lieut. Philip Mountbatten, whose engagement was announced, pose for their first engagement pictures at Buckingham Palace.
Queen Elizabeth II, with the Duke of Edinburgh, takes the salute as 1,200 members of the Boys Brigade Council march past at Balmoral Castle.
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, walks through the Royal Gallery from the Robing Room to the Chamber of the House of Lords at the State Opening of Parliament. It was the first time photographs of the ceremony were permitted and it was also televised for the first time.
Queen Elizabeth II walks through the Royal Gallery accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh for the State Opening of Parliament.
January 17, 2019 - Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh was not injured in a two-car crash as he was driving his Land Rover near Sandringham Estate. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-107/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 6/24/18 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Windsor Cup Final at the Guards Polo Club and the British Driving Society Annual Show at Smith's Lawn in Windsor Great Park. (Windsor, Berkshire, England, UK)
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh board their Trident airliner of the British European Airways at Heathrow Airport, on their way to Malta for a four-day visit.
The Royal Family in the grounds of Frogmore House, Windsor, Berkshire. Left to right: Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh view the model vintage cars presented to them for their sons, Prince Edward and Prince Andrew, at the Royal world premiere of the film 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave to the crowds from the Royal Yacht Britannia as it leaves Tortola in the Virgin Islands, during the Silver Jubilee tour of the Caribbean.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on the jetty at Maseline harbour during their visit to the island of Sark, Channel Islands.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh (in uniform as a Marshal of the RAF) driving in an open field car along the lines of aircraft and crews at the Royal Review of the Royal Air Force, at RAF Finningley, during her Silver Jubilee tour of Great Britain
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in the open landau as they drive on the return processional drive to Buckingham Palace after lunch at the Guildhall to celebrate the Silver Jubilee.
Left to right; Princess Michael of Kent with her daughter Lady Gabriella Windsor, the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, and Princess of Wales. Foreground; Prince Harry, Prince William and the Earl of Ulster.
Members of the Royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, to watch the fly-past after the Trooping the Colour ceremony. Baby Prince Harry wriggles in the arms of his father, the Prince of Wales, who is flanked by the Princess Anne (l) and the Princess of Wales. Children in the front row (l-r) are Prince William of Wales, Lady Davina Windsor, the eight-year-0old daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales with butler Paul Burrell, riding at the back of the carriage, at Ascot in June, 1987.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh talk to Chancellor Gordon Brown (right), tonight (Weds), as 350 representatives from various City organisations gathered at a reception at Buckingham Palace. See PA Story ROYAL City. Photo by Fiona Hanson. WPA Rota.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh with their grandchildren Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie (right) leaving Balmoral castle this morning (Monday) en route to Crathie Kirk church for memorial in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales. Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA. See PA story DIANA Anniversary
January 17, 2019 - Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh was not injured in a two-car crash as he was driving his Land Rover near Sandringham Estate. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 5/11/18 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh at The Royal Windsor Horse Show. (Windsor, Berkshire, England, UK)
January 17, 2019 - Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh was not injured in a two-car crash as he was driving his Land Rover near Sandringham Estate. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-492/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 8/19/18 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is joined by Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, Charles The Prince of Wales and Camilla The Duchess of Cornwall as she attends the Sunday Church Service at Crathie Kirk - the regular place of worship of the British Royal Family when they are on holiday at Balmoral Castle. (Crathie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip wait for the arrival by open carriage of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank following their wedding in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, near London, England, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary on 11/20/18. They were married at Westminster Abbey on November 20th, 1947. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-492/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 8/19/18 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh attend the Sunday Church Service at Crathie Kirk - the regular place of worship of the British Royal Family when they are on holiday at Balmoral Castle. (Crathie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK)
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive for the wedding of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, near London, England, Friday Oct. 12, 2018. (Jonathan Brady, Pool via AP)
Photo by: zz/KGC-107/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 6/24/18 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Windsor Cup Final at the Guards Polo Club and the British Driving Society Annual Show at Smith's Lawn in Windsor Great Park. (Windsor, Berkshire, England, UK)
Photo by: KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 5/19/18 The royal wedding ceremony of Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle The Duchess of Sussex held at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle on May 19th, 2018. Members of The Royal Family included Prince William The Duke of Cambridge, Princess Catherine The Duchess of Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles of Wales, Duchess Camilla, Princess Charlotte, Sarah Ferguson The Duchess of York and Prince Andrew The Duke of York. Guests included mother of the bride Doria Ragland, Pippa Middleton Matthews, George and Amal Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham, Sir Elton John and David Furnish, Priyanka Chopra, Serena Williams, James Corden and Idris Elba. (Windsor, England, UK)
Photo by: KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 2/4/18 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend Sunday Service with Reverend Jonathan Riviere at St Peter and St Paul Church in West Newton, Norfolk.
Photo by: KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 1/21/18 Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie arrive at St Lawrence Church in Castle Rising, Norfolk, England.
Front from left: Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Rear From left, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Price William, Meghan Markle, and her fiancee Prince Harry, right, as they wait for the Queen to leave by car following the traditional Christmas Day church service, at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh leave together after attending a church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England, Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)
Photo by: KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2017 12/21/17 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Kings Lynn train station to begin their Christmas holiday at Sandringham.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip wave as Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia leave Buckingham Palace, London, Friday July 14, 2017, after their three day State visit. (Chris Jackson/Pool via AP)
Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip, Spain's King Felipe and his wife, Queen Letizia, pose for a group photograph before a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The king and queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip leave after attending the funeral service of Patricia Knatchbull, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma at St Paul's Church in Knightsbridge, London, Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, waves to the crowd with Prince Philip at right, as they arrive by open carriage to the parade ring on the first day of the Royal Ascot horse race meeting in Ascot, England, Tuesday, June 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
FILE- In this file photo dated Saturday, June 17, 2017, members of the British royal family with from left, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Harry, Princess Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, with children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, Prince William, gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, after attending the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony in London. In an interview with Newsweek magazine published Thursday June 22, 2017, Britain’s Prince Harry has suggested that no one in the royal family really wishes to rise to the throne, and that it is duty, rather than desire, that prompts them to continue serving the British people. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, FILE)
Photo by: KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2017 6/15/17 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend a Memorial Service at All Saints Church during an official visit to Tower Hamlets in London, England.
Photo by: KGC-178/starmaxinc.com STAR MAX ©2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Telephone/Fax: (212) 995-1196 6/13/17 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend Evensong in celebration of the centenary of the Order of the Companions of Honour at Hampton Court Palace in London.
Photo by: KGC-375/STAR MAX/IPx 2017 5/24/17 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend a service to mark the 100th anniversary of the Order of the British Empire at St Paul's Cathedral in London.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip observe a minute's silence, at the start of a garden party at Buckingham Palace in London, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Tuesday for the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande show that left over 20 people dead and dozens injured. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth, right, and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, London, for an Order of Merit service, Thursday May 4, 2017. Prince Philip, the consort known for his constant support of his wife Queen Elizabeth II as well as for his occasional gaffes, will retire from royal duties this fall, Buckingham Palace said Thursday. (John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP)
Photo by: KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2017 4/13/17 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend the Royal Maundy service at Leicester Cathedral in Leicester.
Photo by: KGC/STAR MAX/IPx 2017 4/11/17 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, feed Donna a 7 year old Asian Elephant during a visit to open the new Centre for Elephant Care at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
FILE - In this April 22, 2016 file photo President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are greeted by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip as they arrive on Marine One at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. With his departure from Berlin on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 Obama will leave Europe for the last time as U.S. President. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)
FILE - In this May 24, 2011 file photo President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip pose for photographers prior to a dinner hosted by the queen at Buckingham Palace in London. With his departure from Berlin on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 Obama will leave Europe for the last time as U.S. President. (Larry Downing/Pool photo via AP, file)
FILE - A Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 file photo of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip walking out to take part in the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in London. Queen Elizabeth II will not personally place a wreath on The Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday this year. The aging monarch and her husband Prince Philip will instead watch the ceremony from a balcony at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
2016 AP YEAR END PHOTOS - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waves as she watches the flypast, with Prince Philip, to right, Prince William, centre, with his son Prince George, front, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge holding Princess Charlotte, centre left, with The Prince of Wales standing with The Duchess of Cornwall, and Princess Anne, fourth left, on the balcony during the Trooping The Colour parade at Buckingham Palace, in London, on June 11, 2016. Hundreds of soldiers in ceremonial dress marched in London in the annual parade to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. The Trooping the Colour tradition originates from preparations for battle, when flags were carried or "trooped" down the rank for soldiers to see. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attend a National Service of Thanksgiving to mark the 90th birthday of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul's Cathedral in London, Friday, June 10, 2016. Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her official 90th birthday with a three-day series of festivities starting Friday, on what is also her husband Prince Philip's 95th birthday. The queen's real birthday is in April. (Ian Vogler/Pool Photo via AP)
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"But who, as the queen will say herself, is her bedrock, who is still very much the head of the family.

"A man who has supported his wife in a way, to a very successful reign, I think is an amazing achievement for him, and he has supported, probably the most famous woman in the world for seven decades. If that's not being a feminist role model, I don't know what is."

Historian Anna Whitelock adds: "I think history will look back on Prince Philip and commend him in a way that perhaps contemporaries don't.

"Perhaps we sneer at some of his indiscretions, but he was huge modernizer of monarchy; I mean, he's had a huge impact on the monarchy in a way that is just not often credited.

"He's impressive, is kind of an understatement in terms of what he's done, what he's achieved and simply by being with the queen for all those years, in such periods of political and social change is absolutely remarkable and unprecedented."

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