Prince Philip, who died on April 9 at the age of 99, held a number of titles: Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, garden designer, and grower of surprisingly impressive truffles.
The prince, an avid lover of the outdoors, used his green thumb to enhance several of the sweeping English estates where he lived. During the first four months of the pandemic, he hunkered down in Windsor Castle with the Queen, overlooking the East Terrace Garden, designed in the 1820s for George IV. Philip put his own imprint on the grand property in 1971, spearheading the redesign and planting of more than 3,500 rose bushes, dotted around an elegant bronze lotus fountain. The landscape would later serve as a backdrop for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s official wedding portraits.
Philip’s pursuits went beyond the horticultural. For 12 years, the prince embarked on an unusual attempt to grow black truffles at the Sandringham House, a property in Norfolk, England. The striking estate, frequented by the royals during the Christmas holidays, features 20,000 acres of land, and a royal fruit farm filled with apples, blackcurrants and gooseberries. The prince planted more than 300 truffle spores and waited over a decade for results.
Growing frustrated with the lack of growth, Philip called in truffle experts from Italy to assist him. He finally succeeded in 2018, becoming, what is believed to be, the first person to successfully harvest black diamond truffles in Britain. The fungus sell at almost $90 an ounce, but the prince wasn’t in it for the cash. “From what I gather, none has been sold,” Adrian Cole, from Truffle UK, reported to The Times. “They have gone to the house or family.”
When he wasn’t busy breaking national truffle-growing records, Philip spent time at Balmoral, a Gothic Revival castle nestled on the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Purchased by Prince Albert in 1852, the interiors boast marble fireplaces, a dark green aesthetic, floral drapes and walls of leather-bound books. Philip updated parts of the property’s staggering 50,000 acres of surrounding land, planting a vegetable garden, water garden and floral walkway. During summer trips to the estate, the prince would hunt, fish, and stalk deer. He’s thought to have the highest kill rate of game in the royal family, according to Express.
The prince’s love of hunting was so renowned that Edinburgh News noted he once received a silver tankard featuring etchings of Balmoral’s top deer-stalking spots. Known for his sometimes highly inappropriate one-liners, the prince reportedly remarked, “It’s unusual to get something useful.”
The Queen announced his death in a statement, saying in part, “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.” They were married for 73 years.