Tuesday 25 September 2012

Prince Philip's Birthplace in Corfu

Current Location: Corfu, Greece

Quotable Quotes

Judy the Stoker commenting on the number of smokers in Europe: "Europe's an ashtray. Rothmans has nothing to fear."
Merran the Rear Seat Navigator comments on a Corfu road:"Wow, this is cool. I hope it doesn't turn perilous."
Judy the Stoker gets her marinelife confused:"And then (divers) dropped down on all these mantra eels." How about manta rays?

Mon Repos Palace - where Prince
Philip was born.
Growing up in New Zealand in the 1950s and 60s I can remember the days when Prince Philip was sometimes referred to as “Phil the Greek”. At the time I thought nothing of it, but reflecting on it now I suspect it was part racial slur and partly an unspoken view that the Queen had married beneath her status. But in those simple days, no-one would have dared to say the latter in public – we were very pro the monarchy and I can remember lining up with all my school mates to catch a glimpse of the Queen during her Royal visit in 1963 (and missing the critical with my Kodak camera).

The phrase “Phil the Greek” came to mind the other day, when I discovered that he was born here on the Greek Island of Corfu in 1921.

Much of the Mon Repos Estate looks
in need of a wealthy benefactor
His birthplace was at Mon Repos Palace, not far from Corfu’s old city,  and with a rental car and a drive in mind our party of three (my daughter Merran was with us) we set off to visit the south of the island and maybe find the palace. It wasn’t to be that day – although at one point we were close enough to see what looked like a long pedestrian causeway which might have taken us there.
Interior Mon Repos Palace

A couple of days later, we were thrown off the scent when a waiter at a restaurant where we were dining in the heart of the old city claimed that the Palace of St Michael and St George - a stone’s throw from where we were seated - was Prince Philip’s birthplace.
We lost interest until Judy and I were returning from the airport, having delivered Merran there for a flight to London. We took a wrong turn and suddenly there was a sign – Mon Repos Palace.

Did Prince Philip's older siblings ever
come home with handfuls of treasure?
The Palace's atrium serves
as a reference point for the
botanical gardens at Mon Repos.
The gardens were badly in need of a prune, some replanting and a major tidy up but it was a pleasant walk – lizards rustling through the leaves, the smell of pines and a lone snorkeler floating on the blue Ionian waters below us. It would have been the perfect place for a game of hide and seek, if members of the Greek Royal family ever indulged in such frivolous pastimes.  There is a Doric temple lying in ruins, and archaeologists have been at work on several sites in the grounds unearthing treasures – some of which are now in a museum inside the palace. Philip would have been too young, but did his older sisters ever come home with handfuls of silver coins they’d found while fossicking?
Part of a permanent photo exhbition,
the work of a British naval officer
stationed in Corfu.

Sir  Frederick Adam, High
Commissioner of the
Ionian Islands
The palace itself was built in 1824, on the orders of the British High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, Sir Frederic Adam, who seems to have been prepared to go to considerable lengths to satisfy his Corfiot wife’s desire.
When Corfu and the other islands were returned to Greece in 1864, the Greek royal family were given it to use as a summer home, and that’s how the baby Philip came to be born there. However, his holidays there were short lived.  Within a year or two, his family went into exile.


Some Other Stuff about Prince Philip – from Wikipedia
He was the fifth and final child in his family, the others were girls.
When his family was exiled, he was transported to safety in a cot made from a fruit box.
He began corresponding with Princess Elizabeth when she was 13 and he was 18. Love blossomed.
His three surviving sisters were not invited to the wedding. They had married German noblemen and in 1947 in post-war Britain their presence would not have been acceptable.

His mother was placed in an asylum after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

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