Feature · fashion
The Duke of Edinburgh’s classic sartorial legacy
Throughout his life, the late Prince Philip proved to be a master of quintessentially British dress codes.
While he might not have been the most talked-about royal style icon in recent years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s fashion choices were those of a confident dresser, dedicated to channeling classic British style.
The duke had a look thoroughly appropriate for every occasion. He moved seamlessly from formal navy uniform and black-tie attire to laid-back outfits better suited to family shooting weekends at Balmoral castle in Scotland.
His gentlemanly approach to fashion meant that over 73 years of his marriage to Queen Elizabeth II, his ensembles complemented but never overshadowed her.
Prince Philip, looking dapper at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images
Her Royal Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip at Guards Polo Club in Windsor. Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images
To Dylan Jones, editor-In-chief of GQ and menswear chairman of the British Fashion Council, the duke was a “true sartorial connoisseur” who “always dressed according to the rules.”
“He had dignity, style and decorum,” Jones wrote via email.
Throughout his life Prince Philip would call on the services of many of the established and palace-approved ateliers on London’s Savile Row. Perfectly cut suits, often fitted by his longtime tailor John Kent, were of course a staple in his wardrobe. His robemaker was London’s oldest tailor, Ede & Ravenscroft, which was established in 1689, while Davies & Son handled his military attire and Gieves & Hawkes his naval dress. For kilts, the Prince Philip regularly enlisted the services of Kinloch Anderson in Edinburgh.
Prince Philip poses for a portrait in Buckingham Palace in 1958. Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
While his impeccable standards are what defined his style, older photos of a young Philip show he wasn’t afraid to have fun with his sartorial choices.
Most British men in the 1940s preferred a clean-shaven look, but a candid portrait taken during a naval visit to Australia in 1945 reveals a bearded Philip in his mid-20s, smiling mischievously into the camera. Six years later, while on a royal tour in Canada, the duke danced at a traditional hoedown in blue jeans, a plaid shirt and a neckerchief to complete the look.
Prince Philip during a naval visit to Melbourne, Australia in 1945. Credit: AP
Prince Philip is pictured dancing at a traditional hoedown held in the honour of the Royal Couple at Rideau Hall, Ottawa, during a five-week visit of Canada in 1951. Credit: Frank Royal/NFB/Getty Images
Prince Philip plays in a polo match Credit: Alamy
A fan of cricket, polo and various water sports, he was often spotted in sportswear. A black-and-white photo taken in Turkey in 1951 during a summer cruise with the Royal Navy shows a svelte Prince Philip jumping off a set of water skis onto dry land, one of many action shots snapped of the handsome royal throughout his younger years.
Prince Philip at a beach at Marmarice in Turkey during the Mediterranean Navy Fleet’s summer cruise. Credit: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis/Getty Images
Prince Philip’s preferred color palette was mostly muted, but his outfit for his 25th wedding anniversary with the Queen offered a rare splash of color. Their silver wedding celebrations took place in 1972 aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, and in one photograph, the smiling couple are in visible holiday-mode, sunglasses and all. The Queen is pictured smiling brightly at her husband who is dressed in a boldly printed blue short-sleeved shirt and chinos.
As the longest serving consort in British history, Prince Philip was dutiful in life and style and will be remembered for his astute choices and his ability to use fashion to honor the spirit of almost any moment.
Prince Philip with the Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) and their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne. with his young family. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Credit: Keystone/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
He was recognized for that ability in 2016, when he made it onto GQ’s “50 Best-Dressed Men in Britain” list at the age of 94. Coming in at number 12, he even outranked his grandson Prince Harry who was placed 38th.
When asked what secured the duke’s spot high on the list, Jones said, “His attention to detail and for always dressing like a gentleman. He had an innate gift for always looking appropriate.”