Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, have built their love over seven decades and it’s certainly one for the history books. From their first meeting as a young princess and a dashing Royal Navy man to their steadfast relationship as they grew their family with four children, and dozens of grandchildren, the couple have witnessed many of history’s greatest moments together. After 73 years of marriage, Prince Phillip passed away on April 9, 2021, at 99 years old.
1934: The First Time They Met!
Elizabeth first met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece (back then he was!) at the wedding of his cousin Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark to Elizabeth’s uncle Prince George, Duke of Kent. Elizabeth was only 8 years old and was not ever expected to become a reigning monarch as her father’s brother Edward was next in line for the throne. As we know, he abdicated the throne to marry his love Wallis Simpson, and Elizabeth’s royal future was forever changed.
1939: They Meet Again As Teenagers
Several years later, when she was 13 and he was 18, Elizabeth’s family was on the Royal Naval College, where the prince was a cadet in training. Apparently, it was love at first sight for the two! The queen’s nanny at the time Marion Crawford wrote in her book that the future queen was quite smitten with the prince and “never took her eyes off him.” Over the years the duo kept in touch and… Elizabeth was sure of who her future prince would be!
1946: Prince Philip Serves In WWII And Asks For King George VI’s Blessing
The duo corresponded for years and fell madly in love. Throughout this time, Philip was building his career as a dashing Royal Navy man and had risen through the ranks to become one of the youngest First Lieutenants in the Navy in 1942. He served throughout WWII and also kept in touch with his love Elizabeth. According to biographer Ingrid Seward, Prince Philip wrote the most romantic letter to Elizabeth saying, “To have been spared in the war and seen victory, to have been given the chance to rest and to re-adjust myself, to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one’s personal and even the world’s troubles seem small and petty.”
While the dashing Prince wasn’t quite at the royal rank of the future Queen to marry, her dad King George, reportedly liked him so he agreed as long as Philip waited till Elizabeth turns 21 years old before announcing the engagement. After a month-long vacation at Balmoral with her family, Philip proposed with a stunning sparkler fashioned by London Jeweler Philip Antrobus. The ring was made out of diamonds from her mother’s tiara.
July 1947: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s Engagement Announcement
The duo announced their engagement on July 9, 1947, with an official portrait! At the time it was said to be a “love match” and “not one of arrangement” and came as a surprise to some since Philip was a Royal Navy man and didn’t have the royal pedigree of past monarchs
November 1947: The Wedding
On November 20, 1947, the couple married at Westminster Abbey! Elizabeth dazzled in a wedding gown designed by the Court Designer Norman Hartnell, and it was the first major event after World War II. In Lady Pamela Hicks’ podcast, she reflected on how the smaller wedding, which only had 150 guests, was the first time that most members of Europe’s royal families had seen each other since WWII started and it was an intimate yet beautiful celebration. Following their wedding they held a reception at Buckingham Palace. The couple then escaped on their honeymoon to Broadlands, which was Lord Mountbatten’s (Philip’s uncle) family home.
1948: The Birth Of Prince Charles
The couple welcomed their first child, Prince Charles on November 14, 1948.
1949-1951: Malta Romance + The Birth Of Princess Anne
During the early part of their marriage, the couple lived in Malta, where Philip was stationed in the Navy. On August 15, 1950, Princess Anne, was born. Philip would end his active naval career in July 1951, less than a year before Queen Elizabeth II took the throne. He was promoted to the rank of commander in the Royal Navy in June 1952.
PHOTOS: Royal Family Photos Through The Years
Prince Philip Turns 99: Royal Family Photos Through The YearsView Gallery
1953: The Queen’s Coronation
On February 6, 1952, while Elizabeth was abroad traveling on royal business, she was notified that her father King George VI had died. On June 2, 1953, at just 25 years old, Elizabeth was thrust onto the throne. It was said that the royal shift put a strain on their early marriage, due to the fact that Philip, didn’t have a high-ranking royal title and because his children could then no longer take his surname. He eventually was given the title Prince Philip and was also well-known as the Duke of Edinburgh.
1960-1964: Two More Royal Children
The Queen and Philip welcomed their third child, Prince Andrew, on February 19, 1960. They welcomed their fourth and final child, Prince Edward, on March 10, 1964.
November 1972: The Silver Wedding Speech
Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Wedding speech at the guildhall gave the world a glimpse into their happy and successful marriage. “If I am asked what I think about family life after 25 years of marriage, I can answer with equal simplicity and conviction, I am for it,” she said.
November 1997: 50th Wedding Anniversary
For their 50th wedding anniversary, the couple celebrated with a luncheon and during a toast to the Queen, Prince Philip famously spoke about the secret to their long-lasting marriage. “I think the main lesson we have learnt is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient in any happy marriage… You can take it from me, the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”
June 2002: The Queen Shares Prince Philip’s Invaluable Contribution
During her Golden Jubilee speech, Queen Elizabeth praised her husband, explaining to the crowd what an incredible impact he has had on her. “I take this opportunity to mention the strength I draw from my own family,” she said. “The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past fifty years, as he has to so many charities and organisations with which he has been involved.”
PHOTOS: Prince Philip Through The Years
Prince Philip Through The YearsView Gallery
Throughout their long-lasting marriage the couple was known for their love of Scotland, regularly traveling to Balmoral, to spend time outdoors and with their horses. The duo traveled the world together, embarking on solo and coupled trips in service of The Crown. They also grew their family, sharing eight grandkids and nine great-grandchildren.
Prince Philip officially retired from his royal duties in August of 2017 at the age of 96. At the time, the Queen shared the profound impact he had on the numerous charities and positions on patronage he held over the years.
April 9, 2021: Prince Philip’s Death
On April 9, 2021, Prince Philip passed away at 99 years old. He had been suffering from several health conditions over the past couple years and throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the couple had spent their days at their Windsor Castle estate. Prince Philip’s body will lie at rest in Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral in St George’s Chapel, according to his wishes. The Queen is in mourning.
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