A man of many talents: Prince Philip's passion as a painter


Prince Philip's oil painting 'The Queen At Breakfast' (1965). Photos: Royal Collection Trust

It is no surprise that the late Prince Philip, who died peacefully at Windsor Castle in Britain on April 9 - just two months short of his 100th birthday - was the subject of numerous portraits by artists and photographers of the past decades.

In fact, his retirement from public engagements in 2017 was marked with a portrait painted by Austrian artist Ralph Heimans.

But did you know that Prince Philip, who was officially the Duke of Edinburgh, was a painter too?

One of Prince Philip's most well-known paintings is an informal portrait of his wife Queen Elizabeth II enjoying her breakfast while reading the newspaper in the dining room at Windsor Castle.

Painted in 1965, this artwork was featured in The Royal Portrait: Image And Impact book published in 2010.

The couple has celebrated more than 73 years of marriage - the longest of any British monarch.

Another painting by Prince Philip, of his friend English artist Edward Seago (1910-1974), was shown together with Seago’s portrait of the prince working with oil paints, at the Portrait Of The Artist exhibition at Buckingham Palace in 2016.

Prince Philip’s sketches for the stained glass windows for a private chapel at Windsor Castle.Prince Philip’s sketches for the stained glass windows for a private chapel at Windsor Castle.

His friendship with Seago proved deeply formative, both to his artistic style and his appreciation of the arts.

In another exhibition, a description in his painting of Duart Castle From The Sound Of Mull in the Western Isles mentions that Prince Philip - who is interested in art and design, both as a patron and collector, and as an artist himself - is said to paint mostly landscapes in oils.

The Royal Collection Trust notes of this painting that “the atmosphere and light show the influence of his friend, the artist Edward Seago.”

Over the years, the Duke Of Edinburgh’s interest in art and design spanned many projects and commitments, including being part of the restoration committee after a fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, where he was involved in the restoration process as well as the design of stained glass windows for a new chapel.

As president of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee from 1952 to 1999, he helped oversee the designs for coins, medals and seals. This included the newly-designed coinage in 1952 to mark the beginning of the queen’s reign.

Prince Philip also collected books and had a personal library of 13,000 titles, mostly non-fiction, including a specialist collection of around 2,000 books on wildlife.

As a keen photographer of birds, he published Birds From Britannia in 1962, a collection of photos from trips to the Antarctic and the Indian Ocean, among others.

In this 1957 photo, Prince Phillip feeds a colony of penguins during a visit to the Antarctic. Photo: AP In this 1957 photo, Prince Phillip feeds a colony of penguins during a visit to the Antarctic. Photo: AP

He authored 21 books in total, including A Question Of Balance, 30 Years On And Off The Box Seat and Driving And Judging Dressage.

Prince Philip - often known to be irascible and tough-minded - also had a tender and romantic side.

For the Queen's fifth wedding anniversary gift, he designed a gold, diamond, sapphire and ruby bracelet for his wife, realised by none other than renowned French jewellery house Boucheron. The bracelet featured links composed of interlocking "E"s and "P"s.

Prince Philip’s funeral - significantly scaled back, with no public processions - will take place inside the grounds of Windsor Castle on April 17.

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