Uncovered: the neurosis of Prince Philip, made in France

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The British Queen Elizabeth II is in France for the D-Day commemorations, in what may prove to be her last trip to the country. At her side as usual – or rather, two paces behind – is her consort Prince Philip. Mediapart's Antoine Perraud takes a look at Philip's close connections with France as a child and comes up with a theory about why the gaffe-prone consort behaves and talks as he does. According to this theory Prince Philip has sought – not always entirely successfully – to suppress his colourful and varied family roots in order to conform to the demands of the British monarchy. And now, argues Perraud, Prince Philip has himself become a symbol of a once diverse and dynamic Europe that has lost its way.

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It may well be the last time they are seen in France. The British Queen Elizabeth II, aged 88, and Prince Philip, who will be 93 next week, have been on French soil this week as part of the commemorations for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. She with her fixed smile, a look filled with weary arrogance, her forehead etched with haughty concern, reigns and is an ever-present at the passage of history. Two paces behind, his hands often clasped behind his back, the prince simply follows his own destiny as consort. In other words, as nothing at all. Appalled at the idea that he was wanted by the Royal Family just for his “sperm”, as he is reported to have said more than 50 years ago, it has irked him that he was the only man in the United Kingdom who could not pass his surname onto his children.