Dining room table Prince Philip was born on now used in City boardroom

Jack Hardy
·3-min read
The Duke’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was said to have delivered the future consort to the British monarchy on the table at a villa in Corfu in 1921.  - Howe Robinson
The Duke’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was said to have delivered the future consort to the British monarchy on the table at a villa in Corfu in 1921. - Howe Robinson

A dining room table on which Prince Philip was said to have been born is now used in a City boardroom - and the Duke was once even invited to have lunch around it. 

The Duke’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was said to have delivered the future consort to the British monarchy on the table at a villa in Corfu in 1921

Its unlikely journey across the continent began in 1932, when the Greek royal family asked the British consul in Greece to sell their furniture from their summer villa.

The Duke had left Greece with his family ten years earlier after King Constantine, his uncle, was forced to abdicate and his father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, was banished from the country by a revolutionary court. 

John Vaughan-Russell, the British consul at the time, is believed to have taken possession of the dining room furniture for around 28,000 drachma and moved it to the consulate in Patras, before it later went into storage.

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There it remained until 1977, when Mr Vaughan-Russell’s son, who was working in Hong Kong at Jardine Matheson, the trading company, asked a friend if he wanted to buy it.

“My father always used to say that Prince Philip was born on this table,” Mr Vaughan-Russell was said to have told the friend, a director at the shipbrokers Howe Robinson. 

The company duly bought the large dining room table - along with 12 chairs, a sideboard, a carving table and the original receipts - only to discover it was too big to fit in their office. 

The original invoice of the sale of the Greek royal family's furniture is framed on the boardroom wall - Howe Robinson
The original invoice of the sale of the Greek royal family's furniture is framed on the boardroom wall - Howe Robinson

By the time they had moved offices in 1981, Richard Lund, then a director at the company, decided to alert the Palace that the Duke’s birthplace had, too, made it to London.

Mr Lund wrote in a letter to Buckingham Palace that the company had initially given little thought to the “unlikely tale” that the Duke was born on the table until a new biography was published. 

“To our delighted surprise on page 61 chapter 3...appears the fact that HRH Prince Philip was born on a dining room table, in Corfu,” the letter said.

“Elsewhere in the biography also states that the housekeeper’s name was Agnes Blower - our receipt is signed by Alfred Blower, presumably her husband.

“I therefore submit with respect that beyond reasonable doubt, this company owns the very table on which this event took place.”

It remains unclear the precise reason why Prince Philip was born on the table, but biographers have said the doctor who oversaw the birth suggested the bed was inappropriate and asked for his mother to be carried downstairs instead.

Mr Lund went on to invite the Duke for a private lunch around the table to mark the 100th anniversary of Howe Robinson in 1982. 

“In the follow-up correspondence, his private secretary said he wasn’t permitted under his royal duties to attend private lunches in the City,” Guy Hindley, a shipbroker with Howe Robinson, told the Telegraph

He added: “The royal equerry came back and said ‘I’m afraid he cannot confirm or deny its authenticity, because his memory of events is somewhat sketchy’.”

The table is still used for business and has full video-conferencing facilities so meetings can be conducted remotely. 

Mr Hindley said: “It’s faintly eccentric, I suppose, we’ve got a long history and have always remained private and under the radar so we quite like this fact.”

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