We cel­e­brate the Queen and Duke of Ed­in­burgh’s 70th an­niver­sary

Ian Lloyd cel­e­brates the 70th an­niver­sary of the Queen and Duke of Ed­in­burgh.

The People's Friend - - 8 -

THE Queen and Prince Philip both hate a fuss. Nei­ther of them has ever re­ally wanted to mark land­mark birthdays such as Her Majesty’s 90th last year.

Wed­ding an­niver­saries are the same. On Novem­ber 20 they will have been mar­ried for 70 years, but they won’t be at­tend­ing a Thanks­giv­ing Ser­vice at West­min­ster Abbey as they have for their Golden and Di­a­mond an­niver­saries.

In­stead, the cou­ple will mark this mile­stone with a din­ner party for fam­ily and friends, with pos­si­bly a low-key re­li­gious ser­vice as well.

The cou­ple feel they can’t top the na­tional cel­e­bra­tions for their 50th and 60th land­mark oc­ca­sions. This year they will do what they like to do best and cel­e­brate in pri­vate.

Prob­a­bly their hap­pi­est an­niver­saries were their sec­ond and third ones which oc­curred when Philip was sta­tioned in Malta with the fleet and El­iz­a­beth flew out to join him.

Here she was just a typ­i­cal of­fi­cer’s wife and was able to go out shop­ping, drive their new Ri­ley her­self and pop in to the lo­cal sa­lon to have her hair done.

The princess was based at the Villa Guardaman­gia, a grand sand­stone house sur­rounded by or­ange trees, which be­longed to Philip’s un­cle, Earl Mount­bat­ten.

The lo­cals left them in peace and so they could cel­e­brate their wed­ding an­niver­saries, like any other cou­ple, with a meal in a lo­cal res­tau­rant.

This ro­man­tic pe­riod came to an abrupt end in 1951 when the King’s wors­en­ing health meant that Philip had to leave the Royal Navy. The fol­low­ing Fe­bru­ary El­iz­a­beth be­came queen at the age of only twenty-five.

The pres­sure of work meant that it wasn’t al­ways easy to escape for a break, but their wed­ding an­niver­sary was al­ways a red-let­ter day.

They would of­ten spend it at Lu­ton Hoo in Bed­ford­shire. Now a lux­ury ho­tel, the es­tate used to be­long to Sir Harold Wern­her and his wife, Zia.

Lady Wern­her was the daugh­ter of the Grand Duke Michael of Rus­sia and her sis­ter Nade­jda mar­ried Prince Philip’s un­cle Ge­orge, Mar­quess of Mil­ford Haven.

A ro­man­tic din­ner party at Lu­ton Hoo away from courtiers, fam­ily and the me­dia, was a high­light of the year.

On their first visit, Philip gave his young wife a gold bracelet made up of the let­ters E and P in­ter­laced and fea­tur­ing his naval badge set in di­a­monds. What is touch­ing about this gift is that he de­signed it him­self and had it made by Boucheron.

Their 25th wed­ding an­niver­sary in 1972 was cel­e­brated at West­min­ster Abbey where they mar­ried in 1947. It is best re­mem­bered for the Queen’s speech after­wards at the Guild­hall when she joked it was surely the one oc­ca­sion she could be­gin with the words, “My husband and I.”

One wed­ding an­niver­sary she would want to for­get is her 45th on Novem­ber 20, 1992, which is the day that Wind­sor Cas­tle suf­fered a dev­as­tat­ing fire. Her Majesty hur­ried from London to see for her­self the flames rav­aging her favourite home.

The Golden Wed­ding an­niver­sary in 1997 came less than three months af­ter the death of Princess Diana.

The monar­chy had been in cri­sis that au­tumn as peo­ple crit­i­cised the Queen for not re­turn­ing to London to mourn with her peo­ple.

She re­lied more than ever on Prince Philip to see her through the cri­sis.

It was at a cel­e­bra­tory lunch hosted by Tony Blair that El­iz­a­beth made her most touch­ing pub­lic trib­ute to her husband to date.

“All too of­ten, I fear,” she said, look­ing vis­i­bly moved, “Prince Philip has had to lis­ten to me speak­ing.

“Fre­quently we have dis­cussed my in­tended speech be­fore­hand and, as you will imag­ine, his views have been ex­pressed in a forthright man­ner.

“He is some­one who doesn’t take eas­ily to com­pli­ments but he has, quite sim­ply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole fam­ily, and this and many other coun­tries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”

It’s a sen­ti­ment the Queen will no doubt be feel­ing this month, as a lov­ing wife to the man who has been by her side, through good times and bad, for the past 70 years. n

An­niver­saries have al­ways been grand af­fairs for the cou­ple, but this year’s will be more re­laxed.

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