Ten­nis court pro­vided set­ting for first stir­rings of teenagers’ royal ro­mance

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -


Philip’s cousin, Princess Ma­rina, later Duchess of Kent, and El­iz­a­beth’s un­cle, Prince Ge­orge, Duke of Kent. They were also both guests at the corona­tion of Ge­orge VI in 1937.

But it was at the Royal Naval Col­lege in Dart­mouth, Devon, when King Ge­orge VI and Queen El­iz­a­beth vis­ited with their two daugh­ters, that the pair had their first pub­li­cised meet­ing in July 1939.

King Ge­orge VI’s of­fi­cial bi­og­ra­pher, Sir John Wheeler-Ben­nett said the Princess fell for Philip at once on that piv­otal week­end.

“This was the man with whom Princess El­iz­a­beth had been in love from their first meet­ing,’’ he wrote.

Philip, who was just 18, was in­tro­duced to 13-year-old El­iz­a­beth at the house of the Cap­tain of the Col­lege, later Ad­mi­ral Sir Fred­er­ick Dal­rym­ple-Hamil­ton.

Two of the other cadets in­vited along had con­tracted mumps, so Philip was the only one who met the royal fam­ily that day. Hand­some, blond-haired, ath­letic Philip caught Lili­bet’s eye as he en­ter­tained her by jump­ing over ten­nis nets.

Mar­ion Craw­ford, El­iz­a­beth’s gov­erness, re­called: “I thought he showed off a good deal.”

But the Princess was en­tranced. “She never took her eyes off him the whole time,” ‘Craw­fie’ wrote.

The pair main­tained a reg­u­lar cor­re­spon­dence and met on sev­eral more oc­ca­sions. Philip was also in­vited to spend the Christ­mas of 1943 with the royal fam­ily at Wind­sor.

In an at­tempt to stop any gos­sip about their re­la­tion­ship, the Princess switched the pho­to­graph of a clean-shaven Philip which she kept in her room, with one of him sport­ing a large beard.

But by the end of the war news­pa­pers were al­ready spec­u­lat­ing about ro­mance.

El­iz­a­beth and Philip be­gan to talk of get­ting en­gaged while at Bal­moral dur­ing the sum­mer of 1946, but any con­fir­ma­tion was de­layed un­til the Princess turned 21 and had re­turned from a key royal tour of South Africa with her par­ents.

Philip ap­plied for Bri­tish na­tion­al­ity and in Fe­bru­ary 1947 be­came a nat­u­ralised Bri­tish sub­ject, re­nounc­ing his Greek royal ti­tle and adopt­ing the sur­name of Mount­bat­ten.

Five months later, in July 1947, it was of­fi­cially an­nounced by Buck­ing­ham Palace that he was to marry the Princess.

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