Inside their fairy-tale wedding
“This wedding, on a dark day of a troubled, distracted and most uncertain time, carried over six continents and seven seas a brightness so simple it was hard to understand,” Time wrote of the union of Princess Elizabeth, 21, and the newly titled Duke of Edinburgh, 26, whom one of the bridesmaids called, “God’s gift to girls.” . . . The jubilant roar of the crowd as Princess Elizabeth and her father, King George VI, rode down the Mall could be heard inside Westminster Abbey, where her bridegroom (buoyed by an early gin and tonic after his stag parties the night before — “I have a little date tomorrow morning,” he reportedly quipped as he slipped away just before midnight) awaited with more than 2,000 guests ... Philip broke into a smile when the king handed over his daughter’s hand, with “infinite gentleness,” Time reported, and as the couple recited their vows, 200 million people around the world listened, the first time the wedding of an heir to the throne was broadcast on radio. “Although she sounded like a young girl,” Life said of Elizabeth, “she already looked like a queen.” . . . “I was so proud of you & thrilled at having you so close to me on our long walk in Westminster Abbey,” King George later wrote to his daughter, “but when I handed your hand to the Archbishop I felt that I had lost something very precious ... I can see that you are sublimely happy with Philip.” By Eileen Finan
Excerpted from ‘Elizabeth and Philip: A Royal Romance,’ the book by WHO’S sister US publication PEOPLE.
Queen wears the crown, it is Philip who rules the roost. “Within the marriage, he was in charge of virtually everything to do with the children, the household, how the royal estates are run,” says Lacey. “He stamped his authority on the whole family.”
The couple have pulled together during the darkest days of their marriage, from seeing three of their children’s marriages end in divorce to the 1992 Windsor Castle fire to Princess Diana’s death in 1997. The Queen’s grandson, Prince William, recently spoke about her role in protecting him and his brother, Prince Harry, in the wake of Diana’s death. “At the time, you know, my grandmother wanted to protect her two grandsons, and my father as well,” William told the BBC in August, noting that he was thankful to her for “the privacy to mourn, to collect our thoughts, and to just have that space away from everybody.” Today, both the Queen and Philip delight in the continued growth of their family tree—including baby No. 3 on the way for William and Kate and the possibility of a new granddaughter-in-law in Harry’s serious girlfriend, Suits star Meghan Markle, whom the Queen has met. (As fifth in line to the throne, Harry needs the monarch’s permission to marry.) Crucially, the ascent of the younger royals also allows Elizabeth and Philip to hand off their public duties. For the first time in 18 years, the Queen will not lay the wreath for Britain’s fallen soldiers on Nov. 11 for Remembrance Day, instead joining Philip in the balcony while her heir Prince Charles assumes the role. “It is a sign of their partnership,” says Lacey. “She could have vowed to keep on doing it, and he is probably fit enough to do it, too, but the two of them are working together to allow Charles forward.”
Having outlived most of their friends, the couple are keenly aware of the advancing years. “They have had a lot of time to think about this,” the former staffer says of their inevitable parting. “They will be stiff upper lip in public and keep their own emotions behind it. They are both deeply religious people and it won’t take them by surprise.”
For now, however, they are by each other’s side, spending most of their days at Windsor Castle and Sandringham estate. Says royal biographer Ingrid Seward: “They know they’ve only got to stretch out and the other will be there.”
“As a team, they are faultless” —Former member of the household staff