On Thursday, Buckingham Palace announced Prince Philip will retire from public life.
As well-known details of his life since his wife became queen in 1952 dominated the headlines, the Palace also revealed a less celebrated fact: the Duke of Edinburgh is the author of 14 books.
A swift search suggests the 95-year-old’s literary career focussed on some of his esoteric interests and concerns. Here are some of the most striking titles:
Competition Carriage Driving
The preserve of certain echelon of society, competition carriage driving involves dressage, driving through cones and a cross-country marathon obstacle course.
It’s a sport Prince Philip has competed in for decades, and he regularly starred in the World Pony Driving Championships.
His book, 1994’s Competition Carriage Driving, only receives two reviews on Amazon, but one suggests the tome is compelling on the basis of the author alone:
“Really, who cares about this subject, or even knew it existed, but anything written by HRH Prince Philip has to be somewhat interesting. Grab it.”
Another work on the subject written ten years later, 30 Years On and Off The Box Seat, apparently details how he helped compile the rules for the sport.
Doomsday Book of Animals
“A little dated now, but still this volume is a worthy addition to any collection of extinct or endangered literature,” notes one Amazon review.
A Question of Survival for the Indians of Brazil
The Duke of Edinburgh wrote the foreword to the 2005 book chronicling the plight of the indigenous people of Brazil.
A description of the book, written by Robin Hanbury-Tenison, says it records the author’s consternation that the “Amazonian Indians’ lot” had not been improved by the Brazilian Government.
“In return for their gift to the world of cocoa, peanuts, tomatoes, cashew, avocado and quinine, which are all of Amerindian origin, Indian tribes have received only disease, expropriation and death.
“They have no natural immunity to many of the diseases carried by the white man.
“Civilization is fast approaching the few remaining uncontacted tribes, and A Question of Survival poses the dilemma which faces Western Civilization and all who adhere to its philosophies.”
Men, Machines and Sacred Cows
Probably the magnum opus. A collection of essays, lectures and speeches by Prince Philip, focussing on science, technology and design.
“It gives Prince Philip a chance to cast a sardonic eye on his own foibles as well as those of others,” wrote the New York Times
The book apparently includes this sensational observation on his four-legged friends:
“Some optimists tend to assume that once you have learned the lesson that horses bite at one end and kick at the other, there is nothing further to worry about. No such luck, I’m afraid.
“The horse is a great leveller and anyone who is concerned about his dignity would be well advised to keep away from horses.
“Apart from many other embarrassments there is, for instance, no more ridiculous sight than a horse performing its natural functions with someone in full dress uniform mounted on its back.”