The Queen on her rock:
“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years”
There will never be another love story like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s 73-year marriage. He was a dashing young naval cadet, while she was a young princess who would one day become Queen. The couple first met as children in 1934 at the wedding of Prince Philip’s cousin, Princess Marina, to Prince George, Duke of Kent. Although they didn’t know it at the time, they would go on to become one of the most powerful couples in the world.
“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know,” Elizabeth said of her husband as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.Together, they were well-versed in their duty to their country and shared a deep understanding of one another – that sentiment never wavered.
The couple faced many highs and lows throughout their relationship, providing unwavering support for each other.
After meeting at such a young age, they pair came across each other again when Philip, then 18, was studying at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. He had been lucky to avoid contracting mumps, unlike his fellow cadets, so when 13-yearold Princess Elizabeth came to visit, he was considered the perfect volunteer to give the young princess a tour of the college. Lilibet – as she was known to her family – quickly became enamoured with Philip and the two began writing
letters to each other.
Elizabeth’s cousin, Margaret Rhodes, wrote in her autobiography that “Elizabeth was truly in love from the very beginning”, which comes as little surprise as Philip’s good looks were infamous. He was described as “a blond Greek Apollo”, “a Viking”, and “as handsome as any film star”.
However, his extroverted, outspoken nature was known to have rubbed a few people up the wrong way – Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, being one of them.
While Elizabeth was thoroughly convinced this was the man she was going to marry, her parents were not so keen. His rogue personality and upbringing were just a small part of the problem; it was largely due to his German heritage that the royals – just emerging from World War II – didn’t think him a suitable match.
Getting the in-laws on side probably wasn’t helped when Philip decided to propose to his Lilibet in secret, in 1946, before asking their permission. Naturally, Elizabeth said yes, and was eventually able to persuade her parents to approve the match. Her father’s only demand was that they wait until after she turned 21 to publicly announce the engagement.
Philip gave up his titles as well as his place in the line of succession to the Greek throne in order to become a British citizen – taking on the surname Mountbatten – and marry Elizabeth.
The wedding was a joyful affair for a country that had endured years of fear and austerity in the war. Elizabeth modestly used ration coupons for the material to make her Sir Norman Hartnell gown, which took 350 women seven weeks to make.
Two hundred million people tuned into the radio to hear the ceremony in which Elizabeth promised to “obey” her new husband – a vow that caused some controversy. As the future queen, many believed this wasn’t a necessary vow to make to Philip, but it’s clear Elizabeth wanted to show her wholehearted dedication to their marriage.
Their first years as newlyweds were blissfully happy. Almost a year after their wedding, Prince Charles was born, and two years later they
❛ SHE WAS TRULY IN LOVE FROM THE VERY BEGINNING ❜