EL­IZ­A­BETH AND PHILIP: 70TH AN­NIVER­SARY

THEIR 70TH AN­NIVER­SARY The fu­ture Queen was just 13 when she fell head-over-heels for the hand­some Navy cadet— and they have been in­sep­a­ra­ble ever since

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Queen El­iz­a­beth and Prince Philip cel­e­brate a mar­riage mile­stone.

On a warm English sum­mer day ear­lier this year, Queen El­iz­a­beth and Prince Philip drove to the mag­nif­i­cent Cum­ber­land Lodge, a few kilo­me­tres from their home at Wind­sor Cas­tle for a pre-lunch ap­point­ment with dear friends. Mov­ing com­fort­ably be­tween the as­sem­bled guests, the pair show­cased the ef­fort­less chem­istry they have honed through­out 70 years of mar­riage. Straight-talk­ing, quip-drop­ping Philip, 96—who had an­nounced his re­tire­ment from pub­lic du­ties in May— “was as jovial and switched on as ever,” says an at­tendee, while El­iz­a­beth, 91, reigned over the gath­er­ing with ease. “Part of the rea­son she keeps go­ing so steadily is that she has him there be­side her,” says the guest. “They’re a great team, and that’s still the case.”

With their land­mark plat­inum wed­ding an­niver­sary on Nov. 20, the cou­ple’s ex­tra­or­di­nary part­ner­ship re­mains un­wa­ver­ing, even as they face the losses and de­mands that ac­com­pany the twi­light of life. Yes, they are slow­ing down and relin­quish­ing many of their long-held du­ties, but they are hardly step­ping away. “They are find­ing their own pace,” says a for­mer house­hold staffer.

As for mark­ing their an­niver­sary, they will likely en­joy a quiet fam­ily cel­e­bra­tion. “She doesn’t want to be showy,” says the for­mer staffer. “They just want to be pri­vate about it.”

Of course, their love story be­gan

on the most pub­lic of stages. The thenPrincess El­iz­a­beth was just 13 when she met Philip, a dash­ing 18-year-old Royal Navy Cadet with “pierc­ing blue eyes,” as El­iz­a­beth’s gov­erness later de­scribed him. For young Lili­bet, as her fam­ily called her then, it was love at first sight. “She never looked at any­one else,” her cousin Mar­garet Rhodes later said.

The cou­ple’s wed­ding on Nov. 20, 1947, was the first grand pub­lic event in Bri­tain since the end of WWII (see box). The new­ly­weds had just wel­comed son Charles and daugh­ter Anne when El­iz­a­beth’s fa­ther, King Ge­orge VI, died in 1952, thrust­ing his el­der daugh­ter into the role she would oc­cupy for the rest of her long life: Queen. Her ac­ces­sion, in turn, pushed her hus­band into a role he had never pre­vi­ously played: sec­ond fid­dle. As the Queen’s “con­sort,” he adapted—at times, grudg­ingly—to oc­cu­py­ing a pub­lic place a few steps be­hind his wife. El­iz­a­beth her­self pained her hus­band when she sided with then-prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Churchill that their chil­dren—who would later in­clude sons An­drew, born in 1960, and Ed­ward, born in 1964—should bear her fam­ily name, Wind­sor, rather than Philip’s, Mount­bat­ten. “I am noth­ing but a bloody amoeba,” he re­port­edly railed.

Ru­mours of a wan­der­ing eye long dogged Philip, with the cou­ple of­ten spend­ing time apart. “There was his polo and car­riage driv­ing for decades, when he would quite reg­u­larly be away for the week­end,” says his­to­rian Robert Lacey, a con­sul­tant on Net­flix’s hit The Crown, while not­ing, “He was al­ways stay­ing in the home of mu­tual friends. The Queen’s friends are solid, moral peo­ple, and I don’t think there was any sug­ges­tion that friends were turn­ing a blind eye to things that the Queen wouldn’t ap­prove.”

In­sid­ers say that Philip’s bold con­fi­dence has long bal­anced his wife’s more ret­i­cent style. “Be­cause of the Queen’s slightly shy per­son­al­ity, com­bined with the solem­nity of her of­fice as head of state, peo­ple are quite over­awed,” says the for­mer staffer. “It’s very of­ten Prince Philip’s wry re­mark that breaks the ice and gets ev­ery­one go­ing. As a team, they are fault­less.” Oth­ers have said that while the

THEN & NOW The cou­ple re­vis­ited Broad­lands, an es­tate in the English coun­try­side, 60 years after their 1947 hon­ey­moon in the same spot (inset, above left).

Young love made of­fi­cial: the cou­ple’s 1947 en­gage­ment por­trait. The early par­ent­ing years, with Prince Charles and Princess Anne in 1950. At Bal­moral in 1972 with all four kids (from left): Ed­ward, An­drew, Anne and Charles.

“Within the mar­riage, [Philip] was in charge of vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing” —Crown his­to­rian Robert Lacey

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