Prince Philip's belated birthday present from Queen Elizabeth

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth gave her husband the Duke of Edinburgh the title and office Lord High Admiral of the Navy yesterday (23.11.11).

The post – the titular head of the Royal Navy – had been held by the monarch since 1964 but she passed it on to her spouse as a 90th birthday gift in June.

However, it was only yesterday that Prince Philip formally received the letters patent as the holder of the title at Admiralty House in Whitehall.

The ceremony was hosted by Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff and the royal couple were treated to a display of precision drumming by five members of the Royal Marines Corps of Drummers.

They also attended a reception for senior naval officers and ordinary servicemen before hearing a speech about the history of Philip’s new title.

The prince burst into laughter after hearing about the queen’s predecessor, the Duke of Clarence, later William IV.

The royal had rowed with his advisory council “and when in 1828 he led a squadron out without consulting either his council, the King or the Duke of Wellington and was gone, no one knew where, for 10 days it proved too much and he was asked to resign”.

It is believed the queen’s birthday gift to her husband is in recognition of the fact he gave up a promising naval career – even tipped to be First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy – to dedicate himself to royal duty.

Asked recently how he felt about giving up his job in the Navy, he said: “I don’t know how difficult it was, it was naturally disappointing.

“I had just been promoted to commander and the fact was that the most interesting part of my naval career was just starting.”