There is a second within the first season of “The Crown” when the actor Matt Smith, because the perennially tetchy consort of Queen Elizabeth II, bristles on the constraints of his job. With a case of lockjaw extreme sufficient to trigger concern for his molars, Mr. Smith portrays the Duke of Edinburgh (whom the queen wouldn’t make a prince till 5 years after she succeeded to the throne) as an arch complainer, a person who views the 20th-century monarchy as little greater than “a coat of paint” on a crumbling Empire.
“If the costumes are grand enough, if the tiaras sparkle enough, if the titles are preposterous enough, if the mythologies are incomprehensible enough, then all must be fine,” says Mr. Smith, taking part in the person who would turn into Prince Philip. And, because it seems, the script obtained it principally proper. Prince Philip, who died at age 99 on April 9, could have been wrapped in a cloak of dramatic hooey to turn into a personality within the hit Netflix collection. Yet the function, as written, is rooted in established reality.
Headstrong by fame, opinionated, notoriously brusque (and sometimes, in public, misogynistic and racist), Prince Philip was additionally in vital methods the mannequin of an organization man. By the time he stepped down from his official royal duties in August 2017, he had spent seven a long time obediently working for the Firm, a time period for the royal household credited to the Queen’s father, King George VI. Fulfilling the necessities of a job for which there isn’t any exact customary, except you take into account second fiddle a job description, the prince slogged by means of a staggering 22,219 solo public engagements over his lengthy lifetime. In doing so, he navigated probably the most difficult of company costume codes for greater than 65 years.
The transient was clear from the outset: The queen’s consort ought to be impeccable but unassuming, irreproachable in fashion with out drawing your eye away from one of many richest, and definitely probably the most well-known, girls on earth. If the garments Queen Elizabeth II wore in public had been engineered to satisfy programmatic necessities — brilliant colours and lofty hats to make this diminutive human straightforward to identify; symbolically freighted jewellery (the Japanese pearl choker, the Burmese ruby tiara, the Obama brooch!); symbols and metaphors embroidered onto her robes — these of Prince Philip had been tailor-made to maintain him faultlessly inconspicuous.
As a clotheshorse, he had sure pure benefits, in fact.
“He was staggeringly good-looking, tall and athletic,” mentioned Nick Sullivan, the artistic director of Esquire. “That never does any harm when it comes to wearing clothes.”
Beyond that, although, had been a collection of assured and figuring out decisions. For a long time, the prince’s fits had been made for him by John N. Kent, a Savile Row artisan who started his tailoring apprenticeship at 15. The prince’s shirts got here from Stephens Brothers, his bespoke footwear from the century-and-a-half previous boot maker John Lobb. In the neatly folded white handkerchief Prince Philip habitually squared off in his breast pocket (one other was stored in his trousers) could possibly be seen a telling distinction with the dandyish puff of silk favored by his eldest son.
Unlike different members of the royal household whose tastes run to pricey baubles and tremendous Swiss timepieces, Prince Philip habitually wore “a plain watch with a brown leather strap,” because the Independent as soon as reported, and a copper bracelet meant to ease arthritis. He left his giant arms free of jewellery and roughly manicured.
If he regarded finest in sporting garments, it was as a result of he was a real sportsman, captain of each the cricket and hockey groups at boarding faculty in Scotland, a polo participant nicely previous his 40s, an lively participant in worldwide teaching competitions till late in life.
He was additionally the one member of the Firm’s interior circle earlier than Meghan Markle to have been foreign-born. This, too, could have given him a mode benefit since it’s typically true that outsiders can convey a contemporary eye to staid sartorial conventions, each enlivening and enhancing them. (It took the Japanese to elucidate denim to Americans and the Neapolitans to show for the English the best way to good English fashion.)
Search on-line and you’ll not discover a picture of Prince Philip committing a mode solecism. There is rarely a novelty tie or a humorous hat. For that matter, and besides on compulsory state events, there may be little sufficient of the comedian operetta regalia beloved of Prince Philip’s uncle, Louis Mountbatten, the First Earl Mountbatten of Burma — no braiding, no frogging, no sashes or fringed and gilded epaulets.
The paradox of Prince Philip’s life could have been that, because the husband of a queen and father of a future king, he was important to energy though insignificant to its workings. And he typically jokingly disparaged himself because the “world’s most experienced plaque unveiler.” Yet it was most likely in that function that he did his finest work for the household enterprise, since a glimpse of this elegant and diffident man was the closest most Britons would ever come to royalty’s attenuated realities and burnished grandeur. In that sense, Prince Philip was by no means “dressed,” in any standard method a lot as he was outfitted for objective.