The 3 hidden details in Prince Philip's portrait you probably missed

This final portrait of the Prince marked his retirement from public service

Prince Philip At The Royal Windsor Horse Show
(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

In 2017, Prince Philip sat for one hour while his portrait was painted, marking his final act of public service. From there, his public appearances decreased as he enjoyed retirement.

Ralph Heimans was tasked with capturing the features and life of Prince Philip in a portrait that would mark the end of his public service. The final reveal of the portrait occurred towards the end of 2017 and was even shared on the official Royal Family Twitter account. 

In it, we see Prince Philip dressed in his formal attire standing in a long corridor at Windsor Castle. There's no denying his regal appearance, but upon closer inspection, you will notice slight nods to his Danish roots and family.

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According to Insider, Ralph intentionally put these details in (with collaboration from the Duke of Edinburgh himself). The goal was to fully capture the essence of who Philip was and his history. 

In fact, if you look closely, the corridor depicted in the painting actually leads to the room where Philip's mother and grandmother were born, which Ralph explained. 

"At the end of that corridor was a room where his mother and his grandmother were born," he said. This was in reference to Princess Alice of Battenberg (who gave birth to Philip in Corfu in 1921) and Alice's mother, Princess Victoria of Hesse.

The grand corridor was also located in the Prince and Queen's private quarters of Windsor Castle, which the two shared during their 73 years of marriage. The location was also the same place where Prince Philip eventually passed, which Ralph believes to be symbolic of his life.

"In some ways, that corridor itself represents his life span," the artist said. "There's something very powerful and symbolic about that space that I think has added to the strength and the poignancy of the portrait."

As a nod to his Danish roots, he even made sure to include a portrait of Queen Victoria with the Danish royal family, which includes Philip's mother as a young girl.

During that hour-long interaction, Ralph recalled Philip's personality and how "distinct" it was from the start.

"He has this charisma which is quite striking," he told Insider. "His sharp wit, humor, and his forthright nature are all qualities you can imagine but when you meet him you really do get a flavor." 

He acknowledged that the corridor was meant to encapsulate Philip's life and ties to British royalty. It was also important though that the Prince's Danish roots were included in it as well. That's why the artist recommended that Philip wear Windsor attire mixed with something that would connect him back to his roots.

"In terms of what he would wear, I suggested a Windsor attire with the Order of the Elephant, which is the Danish highest order, to say something about his origin, which they were very happy with," Ralph added.

When you examine the details, you'll notice that the elephant ornament is positioned in a way to imply that the Prince is about to walk away (a "conscious sense" of finality the artist told Insider). 

"I wanted to convey that sense of farewell," he said. "If you're standing in that corridor, it's as though he's glancing at the viewer, and you can imagine if it was cinematic that the next scene would be him walking away down that corridor."

Rylee Johnston

Rylee is a U.S. news writer who previously worked for woman&home and My Imperfect Life covering lifestyle, celebrity, and fashion news. Before joining woman&home and My Imperfect Life, Rylee studied journalism at Hofstra University where she explored her interests in world politics and magazine writing. From there, she dabbled in freelance writing covering fashion and beauty e-commerce for outlets such as the TODAY show, American Spa Magazine, First for Women, and Woman’s World.