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Prince Philip

Prince Philip: 99 years of collecting the weird and the bizarre

Somewhere behind the closed doors of the Royal Residences lays the Duke of Edingburgh’s vast and unusual collections.

Prince Philip has had 99-years to build his collections, and without a doubt, he has some of the very best in the world.

As a child, the Duke recalled first collecting penknives. Fast forward nine decades and Philip now collects art as well as political cartoons that appear in newspapers.

Frequently depicted in royal cartoons himself, the Duke of Edinburgh is reported to collect both political and royal funnies, many by Giles. When Matt Pritchett of The Telegraph celebrated his 30th anniversary, the Duke was the first to send the cartoonist a congratulatory message.

Likewise, when Prince Philip retired from royal duties in 2017, Matt drew a cartoon especially for the Duke. It showed a plaque with the curtains drawn around it that read, “Unveil your own damn plaque.”

While Prince Philip’s cartoon collection is displayed at Sandringham, King George III and King George IV also had the same hobby. Both their collections are being kept safe by the Library of Congress.

The prince is also a fan of contemporary art which decorate the upper floors of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. When he and The Queen first went to stay at Holyroodhouse, it had only recently been restored and re-furnished in the time of King George V and Queen Mary.

While the main public rooms had some splendid pictures, the upstairs rooms and corridors were mainly hung with prints. For a number of years The Duke used to look in on the Royal Scottish Academy’s Summer Exhibition and buy two or three pictures by contemporary artists.

His collection now stands at around 140 pieces of art.

Other collections include commissioned pieces from artists to paint areas around Windsor Castle and some of the ‘family’ castles in Germany.

The Duke is also a ‘twitcher’, someone who travels long distances to check a specific bird off of their list.

Prince Philip would ‘collect’ these rare birds by photographing them when on the Yacht in the South Pacific and South Atlantic Oceans, and during his many tours on behalf of WWF.

In 1962, Prince Philip published ‘Birds from Britannia’ from photos he took on his trip.