Prince Philip, a sports fan and crowned horseman


The United Kingdom buries Saturday, April 17 the one who will have accompanied Queen Elizabeth II for nearly 75 years. Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, who died at the age of 99 on Friday April 9, was passionate about sport in general, and a great specialist in equestrianism in particular. For the occasion, many sporting events have been postponed to respect the time of the funeral.

The story goes that the Queen fell in love with Prince Philip as he stepped over the net of a tennis court during a match. However, he was more comfortable in the saddle than with a racket in his hand. President of the International Equestrian Federation between 1964 and 1986, he first excelled in polo, before shining in driving.

Although he practiced cricket for a long time as a teenager, Prince Philip then turned to polo, a passion inherited from his uncle, Count Louis Mountbatten. He notably formed the Windsor Park team, with which he won several major trophies, including the British Open Gold Cup in 1957 and 1966, and participated in the prestigious Hurlingham Open, in Argentina, in 1966.

In 1955, he also founded the Guards Polo Club, the cavalry officers’ club, which would become one of the most prestigious teams in the world. He was its president until his death. The club canceled its scheduled meetings during the period of mourning, and paid tribute to him: “His Royal Highness had been an avid polo enthusiast at the Guards Polo Club for over six decades and his valuable advice will be missed by our President, Board of Directors, players, members and staff.“.

Prince Philip has won several prestigious polo competitions.

© ZUMAPRESS

World driving champion in 1980

In 1971, Prince Philip, who suffered from arthritis, decided to retire from polo at the age of 50. Passionate about riding, like his wife, he chooses to devote himself to driving, a sport in which he has greatly participated in the development and the elaboration of certain rules. The Duke of Edinburgh was selected several times with the British selection at the world and European championships and he even won the team gold medal at the world championships in 1980.

The Duke of Edinburgh participated in the development of the rules of the coupling.
The Duke of Edinburgh participated in the development of the rules of the coupling.

© FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA / EPA / Newscom / MaxPPP

He in turn passed on his passion for horseback riding to his daughter, Anne, crowned European eventing champion in 1971, who competed in the Montreal Olympics in 1976, and to his granddaughter, Zara Phillips, Eventing world champion in 2016 and Olympic team vice-champion in 2012. The Prince Consort is also at the initiative of the Pony-Games, a competition between the pony clubs whose trophy bears her name.

Interest in sailing and rugby

Admiral in the Royal Navy, Prince Philip was also a sailor. He participated twice in Cowes Week, a famous sailing competition held off the Isle of Wight, in 1957 and 1962.

He was also a rugby fan and had attended the 2015 World Cup final in Twickenham, pitting the All Blacks against Australia. And in 2017, the famous referee Nigel Owens, invited to Buckingham Palace, was amused to see the prince ask him “if the melee introductions were going to be arranged“.

The opening of the Melbourne Olympics 1956

In 73 years of marriage to Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip has represented his bride on numerous occasions at events. In Melbourne, in 1956, he declared open the first Olympic Games organized in the southern hemisphere, in front of a crowd of 100,000 people. He has also presented numerous awards and trophies, often in the company of the Queen, such as the only FIFA World Cup won by England in 1966 at Wembley. In 2012, the royal couple also hosted the Olympic torch relay in Windsor before the London Games.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip hosted the Olympic Torch Relay in 2012.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip hosted the Olympic Torch Relay in 2012.

© BEN STANSALL / AFP



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