Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died on Friday (9) at the age of 99.
He was married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years and was the longest-serving husband in British royalty.
Let’s go over the basics for understanding the British Royal Family.
Who is part of the royal family?
The Queen has been the head of the United Kingdom since 1952, when her father, King George 6th, died. She has been in power longer than any other British monarch and is also the head of state of 15 other Commonwealth countries (the British Commonwealth, which is a group of former colonies).
The 94-year-old Queen and her late husband Prince Philip have four children (Edward, Andrew, Anne and Charles), eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
They are also members of the British Royal Family:
The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles), 72, married to the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) – he is the Queen’s eldest son and next to the throne; The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), married to the Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine) – he is the eldest son of the Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales; The Duke of Sussex (Prince Harry) is William’s brother and married to the Duchess of Sussex (Meghan); Last year the couple announced their departure from the Royal Family, and today they live with their young son, Archie, in Los Angeles (USA).
How to access royalty?
A person who marries a royal member also becomes a member of the royal family and obtains a title.
For example, Lady Diana Spencer became Princess of Wales when she married Prince Charles in 1981.
However, to become king or queen, one must be born into the royal family.
Prince Charles is the first in the line of succession; his eldest son, Prince William, is the second; and William’s eldest son, Prince George, is the third.
How are royal weddings?
The ceremonies usually take place in traditional and grandiose venues, drawing crowds around them.
The Queen and Prince Philip were married in 1947 at the very old Westminster Abbey in London.
More than six decades later, in 2011, crowds took to the streets around the abbey to celebrate the wedding of William and Catherine Middleton, who then became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Other members of the royal family, like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, have been married at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, which has been in existence for more than 900 years.
Several members of the royal family were born at St. Mary’s Hospital in London.
It was there that Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William and Prince Harry, and where the Duchess of Cambridge had her three children: Prince George, now 7 years old; Princess Charlotte, 5; and Prince Louis, 2.
What is the royal family doing?
The British government is called Her Majesty’s government, but the Queen has virtually no political power.
She meets with the Prime Minister once a week, to remind him of her place in government, but the Prime Minister does not need her approval to make decisions.
The Queen and other royalty also fulfill official engagements – these often represent her. For example, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid an official visit to the Republic of Ireland last March.
Many are patrons of charities and some have started their own initiatives, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Youth Incentive Program.
Members of the royal family also have close ties to the armed forces. Prince William served in the Royal Air Force and Prince Harry served in the military.
Do members of the royal family still make official commitments?
No. Last year Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, announced that they had stepped down as royals, planning to work to become financially independent.
Buckingham Palace has confirmed the couple have waived honorary military appointments and royal sponsorships, which will be redistributed to royal family officials.
The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, stepped down from royal duties in 2019 after giving an interview with the BBC in which he opened up about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, convicted of sexual abuse.
How is the royal family supported?
Each year, the British government makes a one-time payment to the Queen, known as the Sovereign Grant (“Sovereign Grant”).
The amount is based on 25% of Crown estate income two years earlier. Crown Estate is an independent trading company – it includes ownership of Windsor Royal Park and Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, but is primarily comprised of residential and commercial properties.
The Sovereign Grant, which was £ 85.9million for 2020-2021, funds official royal functions and royal palaces.
Prince Charles also derives income from the Duchy of Cornwall – a vast portfolio of properties and financial investments, which brought in £ 22.3million last year.
Where do the members of the royal family live?
The Queen’s official residence is Buckingham Palace, London.
She typically spends weekends and the Easter month at Windsor Castle in Berkshire. During the coronavirus pandemic that began in 2020, she lived there – and it was in Windsor that Prince Philip died.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall live at Clarence House, less than half a mile from Buckingham Palace.
Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, also live nearby at Kensington Palace.