The love story of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s romance spans decades. Find out how they met, fell in love and built a life together for more than 70 years.

“Although for many it is a time of great happiness, Christmas can be difficult for those who have lost loved ones.”Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II said at the start of her annual Christmas speech on 25 December 2021. “Especially this year, I can see why.” That’s because she was in mourning for her beloved husband of more than 73 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died on April 9, 2021, aged 99.

Recalling “the twinkle in her late husband’s eye” as well as his “sense of service, intellectual curiosity and ability to draw the fun out of any situation”, Queen Elizabeth’s sweet tribute to his “strength and staying power”, as she had called the Prince Philip, in another Christmas speech about 20 years ago, moved many listeners to tears. It wasn’t just that the Queen was recalling some of the qualities that made Philip best loved not just by her but by the wider public, or that her acknowledgment of the challenges of celebrating a holiday while in mourning was so touching. Here’s the incredible story behind the fairytale romance between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

The first meeting of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip first met in 1934 at the wedding of Prince George, Duke of Kent, and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. Eight-year-old Princess Elizabeth of York, as she was known at the time, is the groom’s first cousin, while 13-year-old Philip has two family connections to this particular royal wedding: cousin of the bride and the groom.

On the bride’s side, the fathers of both Philip and Marina were sons of the Greek King George. As for the groom, Philip and George of Kent are second cousins, both descended from the same great-great-grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This means that, yes, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are cousins.

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Courtship of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

It was a matter of coincidence that in July 1939 Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip met again. Elizabeth, now 13, attends the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon, with her parents and sister. 18-year-old Philip, a student at the school, is brought in to be their tour guide after the two cadets, who were originally announced as honors, come down with mumps.

It seems that the young Elizabeth immediately fell in love and followed up the chance meeting with a letter to Philip. He replied, and this led to a long correspondence between the two that continued throughout World War II, during which Philip served in the British Royal Navy. Elizabeth soon has a framed picture of the handsome prince on her bedside table.

In 1943, Philip accepted an invitation to be Elizabeth’s guest at the royal family’s Christmas party at Windsor. During the celebration, she performed in a pantomime version of Aladdin, and those present watched for signs of a blossoming romance between her and Philip. Now, when the prince went on military trips, he carried a picture of Princess Elizabeth in his pocket.

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The engagement of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

In 1946, Philip, now something of a war hero, asked for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, he did so before seeking the permission of her father, King George VI, in a breach of protocol. Despite this, and despite Philip’s relative lack of wealth, King George VI gave his blessing to the proposed union, although he wanted the couple to wait until Elizabeth turned 21 before making their engagement official.

Elizabeth and Philip officially announced their engagement to the public on 9 July 1947, three months after Elizabeth’s 21st birthday. The engagement ring is made from diamonds that were once part of a tiara worn by Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg.

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The wedding of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth

The wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip took place on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. As a precondition, Philip was forced to renounce the princely titles with which he was born, become a British citizen, adopt the surname Mountbatten (an anglicization of the German “Batenberg”, the name associated with his mother), and become an established member of the Church of England church. Although this was undoubtedly a lot, Prince Philip was rewarded not only with the hand of his beloved, but also with the titles “Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron of Greenwich”, which George VI conferred on Philip just before the wedding.

The wedding, to which 2,000 people were invited, was the first royal wedding in history to be broadcast live on the BBC. Philip’s best man was his cousin David Mountbatten. Elizabeth, who had eight bridesmaids, wore a gown designed by Sir Norman Hartnell and a Queen Mary tiara. The four-tiered wedding cake, which was nine meters high, used ingredients from all over the world.

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The marriage of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip: the early years

From the very beginning, the marriage of Elizabeth and Philip gave high hopes for a happy lifelong union. While on their honeymoon in the English countryside, Elizabeth wrote to her parents about their deep bond and called Philip “an angel”. Within a year, on November 13, 1948, the couple’s first child, Prince Charles, was born, followed by Princess Anne in 1950. Then the happy couple’s life took a big turn.

On February 6, 1952, King George VI died at the age of 56 after a long illness, and Elizabeth became Queen at the age of 27. British parliamentary law prevents Prince Philip from becoming king, and in what some see as a break with tradition, the Queen has not given Philip the title of Prince Consort. However, in 1957 she did something even more groundbreaking: she gave Philip the title “Prince of the United Kingdom” by letters patent.

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The children of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

After Prince Charles and Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip became parents to Prince Andrew on 19 February 1960, followed by Prince Edward on 10 March 1964. By many accounts, Philip was very affectionate with his children and played an active role in their upbringing. All four of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s children eventually married.

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The marriage of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip: a model of tolerance and support

At the time of Prince Philip’s death in April 2021, he and Queen Elizabeth had been married for 73 years and 139 days. This makes their marriage the longest royal marriage in the history of the British monarchy. Like all long-lasting marriages, Elizabeth and Philip’s union has not been without its ups and downs, especially as they adjust to life as young parents with the added stress of being queen and royal consort.

On the one hand, although he knew exactly what he was getting himself into when he decided to marry Elizabeth, Philip was reportedly bitter about not being able to give his own children his name when he learned that his children they will not bear his surname “Mountbatten”.

Like all celebrity marriages, the Queen and Philip’s have endured occasional rumors of infidelity. For the most part, it was Philip who was involved, and his alleged partners in affairs included suspense novelist Daphne du Maurier and ballerina Galina Ulanova. (Philip’s infidelities are one of the many facts Netflix’s The Crown has taken liberties with.)

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Death of Prince Philip

On April 9, 2021, Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Philip had died. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle”, the palace circular informed a devastated world audience. The prince, the oldest living consort of a monarch in British history, was just two months shy of his 100th birthday. The marriage itself, which has lasted more than 70 years, is the longest in British royal history and among the most successful, with the two always managing to maintain a “united front” and showing affection for each other until the very end.

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