A lot changed in the Duke’s 99 years: the Beatles, the Pill, Google and Brexit. Philip was a rare constant, which is one of the basic strengths of the monarchy. Prime ministers come and go – Elizabeth II has seen 14 during her reign so far – but princes are for life, and that life becomes a way of measuring the story of our own. Monarchy was going out of style when Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born in Corfu on June 10, 1921. Europe had been through war and Spanish flu; Greece was fighting over the remains of the Ottoman Empire. Defeat in that conflict forced Philip’s uncle, King Constantine I of Greece, to abandon his throne. The family fled to Britain by ship, a fruit box doubling as a cot for Philip. Contrary to the coziness of Downton Abbey, the 1920s was really an age of revolution. Britain still had an empire, but Ireland won independence and India sought it. America was emerging as an economic power. Russia had fallen to the Reds. In 1937, when his sister and most of her family were killed in a plane crash, Philip travelled to Germany for the funeral, to find himself surrounded by swastikas. The German people saw Hitler as “attractive”, he later rationalised, because he offered false “hope” after the misery of the Great Depression. His own, utter rejection of fascism was proven in battle: only a few years later, he was fighting in the Mediterranean. Britain emerged victorious from the Second World War, but at a price. When Philip married Princess Elizabeth in 1947, the country was desperately poor, and their wedding, much like the coronation of 1953, was a glamorous distraction from the grim reality of everyday life. The monarchy, however, couldn’t just be a throwback to Medieval splendour: the Prince was among those who knew it must change to survive. Rituals that were once the preserve of the establishment were now broadcast on TV, and the Royal Family, which had hitherto refused to let daylight upon the magic, consented to a fly-on-the-wall documentary in 1969. Some felt it went too far: in one of its most charmingly awkward scenes, the Queen and Prince Philip swapped framed photographs with Richard Nixon on a visit to the UK.