From the Archives

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh 

The following article celebrates the colourful life of this leading figure in the British Monarchy and his associations with Roehampton Club. It also seems appropriate in these difficult times to reflect on the life of someone who has faced even greater adversity in his time, surviving a World War and managing the outcomes of several family tragedies. Rising above these challenges, he has influenced the lives of so many people around the world with his sense of duty, his compassionate approach to worthy causes and his playful sense of humour.

He was born on the island of Corfu nearly 100 years ago in the former residence of the British Lord High Commissioner of the United States of the Ionian Islands just south of Corfu Town. At the time of his birth, the property had become the summer home for the Greek Royal Family and had been renamed, Mon Repos. It was here on 10th of June 1921 that Prince Philip arrived in this world as the fifth child but only son of the Greek and Danish Royal Family. His father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and his mother was Princess Alice of Battenburg. It was only after the announcement of his engagement to the future Queen Elizabeth II that he discarded his Greek and Danish titles and adopted the name of Mountbatten from his mother’s side of the family.

It was his uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma who had introduced Prince Philip to the game of Polo in the 1940’s. Lord Mountbatten had previously joined Roehampton Club in 1919 and was a regular polo player at the Club after he himself had discovered the game in India during a royal tour of the country in 1921 with Edward VIII. His frequent visits to the Club are featured in correspondence held in the Mountbatten archives at the University of Southampton. One of his many victorious moments in the game was captured on film by Pathe News in 1939 when he led the Asdean Team to win the Whitney Cup at Roehampton. An excellent photograph of the presentation ceremony appears in the Roehampton Club Centenary Book by Elizabeth Hennessy showing Lady Mountbatten presenting the Cup to her husband.

Prince Philip also features in a later chapter of the book reminiscing about the nostalgic memories of the old clubhouse. Although much smaller than the present layout, the design of the previous clubhouse was held with deep affection by Members and visitors alike. A description in the book refers to the location of the Men’s Changing Rooms and its proximity to the Members Bar through a serving hatch which according to the author was ‘much appreciated by Prince Philip on his polo-playing visits when he often gratefully accepted the offer of a beer to be drunk in the shower!’

Another photograph of a presentation ceremony of special interest to the Club appeared in the Tatler in May 1950 as part of a double-page feature titled ‘A Fortnight of Flying Hooves at Roehampton in the best Polo Rally since the Revival’. The article includes a series of images from two-weeks of Polo competition at the Club. The event was staged to decide four trophies including the Roehampton Trophy – the oldest Polo Trophy in the UK still played to this day at Ham Polo Club. The occasion was graced with the presence of the future Queen Elizabeth II in her role at the time as Princess Elizabeth who is seen presenting the Roehampton Trophy to the Captain of the winning Sussex Team, Mr J Larkin.


Since his passing, many references have been made to the hundreds of organisations in which HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was involved. There is one however, in which Roehampton Club Members were involved at the very beginning. The National Playing Fields Association was set up in 1925 with help and support from Club Members (pictured), Lady Astor and Lord Wodehouse, who were passionate advocates of improving the provision of playing fields as distinct from public parks, gardens, and commons.

Prince Philip was appointed President of the Association in 1947 – a position he held until 2013 when he stepped down in favour of his grandson Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. The Charity has a role in the protection of more than 2700 parks, playing fields and nature reserves across the UK. 

The nearest of these sites to Roehampton Club are Palewell Park in East Sheen and Barn Elms – former location of the Ranelagh Club. Golfing Members of Roehampton Club will be aware of the competition of the same name which started in 1997 with the winners proudly shown on the Honours Board in the corridor by the lift on the first floor of the clubhouse. 

Steve Riedlinger | Club Archivist