The couple was married for 73 years. They married in 1947. The first time she met him was when she was 13 and he was 18.
There are few couples who can say that they have spent a lifetime together. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were such a couple, whose love story spanned more than 70 years. The couple was married for 73 years. They had courted for a year before marrying in 1947. However, the first time she met him was when she was 13 and he was 18.
"She fell in love, and she never looked at anyone else," biographer Sally Bedell Smith told People magazine. She met him in 1939 on a visit to the Dartmouth naval college with her parents and sister, Princess Margaret.
It was a case of opposites attract for the youngsters since the young princess Elizabeth used to be shy and reserved while Philip was adventurous.
They had some hurdles that they had to cross before they could come together. Initially, the couple seemed like an unlikely match. As the daughter of England's King George VI, who had many castles to his name, Elizabeth was in a very different position than Philip, the nephew of a deposed king of Greece. He was also living in exile. According to The Washington Post, Elizabeth and Philip were also distant cousins.
And yet, love blossomed. Even when Philip served in the Royal Navy during World War II, the two still kept up their correspondence.
"Philip enjoys driving and does it fast!" she wrote in a letter to author Betty Shew that was auctioned off in 2016, as per People. "He has his own tiny M.G. which he is very proud of. He has taken me about in it, once up to London, which was great fun."
The couple married on November 20, 1947. For the UK and for many across the globe, their wedding marked the beginning of a new era post-WWII.
"There had been grayness and austerity, and then to have this golden coach and crowds made it exciting," said Lady Pamela, the daughter of Philip's uncle Lord Mountbatten and a longtime lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth, who served as a bridesmaid.
Less than six years after their wedding, she became the new British monarch. In the wake of her father's death, Elizabeth inherited the throne at only 25 years old. And with this beginning also came the end to Philip's career in the Royal Navy. As the Queen's role gradually took centerstage, his naval career became less of a priority.
"Prince Philip took on the unlikely role of champion to his wife, and became both mother and father to their children, allowing the queen to deal with the requirements of her position," according to royal biographer Ingrid Seward, cited by The Washington Post.
"Even after seven decades," Seward wrote, "the Queen’s face lights up when Philip enters a room." There are lucky few who can claim to be this happy together for so long.
Although the hit Netflix show The Crown insinuates that Philip was less than faithful to The Queen, the couple still managed to weather whatever private storms confronted them in the real world throughout their long partnership. They traveled the world together and raised four children, all while still tending to their royal duties. As per Tatler, the prince allegedly used to tease his wife in private, calling her "Lilibet," "Sausage," or "Darling."
Through the years, he became the homemaker in the relationship, according to Philip Eade’s book, Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II. He spent his free time redecorating their home and even enjoyed buying domestic gadgets, like their washing machine. "Philip was an avid homemaker," Eade wrote.
But even though Philip enjoyed all his new responsibilities as father, husband, and partner to the Queen–he was still disappointed that he had to give up his naval career. Although he eventually came to accept his new role and supported her wife throughout the years, he still had his minor rebellions against the traditions of the royal family. He disliked the formality and eschewed others serving him too much. He preferred to write his own speeches or improvisation, which led to some gaffes over the years. He was also known for his active social life, often spending time with his friends at exclusive men's clubs, which eventually led to the rumors of his infidelity. Regardless, Philip and Elizabeth knew how to love each other in their own ways.
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by (L) Hulton Archive (R) Stuart Wilson