In light of Queen Elizabeth II's passing on September 8, 2022, we're reflecting on her and the Duke of Edinburgh's historic relationship. The royal couple celebrated not just their golden anniversary (50 years) or even their diamond anniversary (60 years), but they toasted their platinum wedding anniversary in 2018—that's a jaw-dropping 70 years of marriage. The two were wed for 73 years before Prince Philip died at the age of 99 on April 9, 2021; the Queen passed away just 18 months later.
Princess Elizabeth married naval officer Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947, in front of 2,000 guests. The ceremony was broadcast to approximately 200 million radio listeners around the world and despite being the King's daughter, the princess had to use ration coupons to obtain the material needed to make her Norman Hartnell wedding dress.
Here's a look back at the pair's epic love story and key moments in Elizabeth and Philip's many years together.
Elizabeth's first encounter with the 18-year-old Greek prince came during a trip on the Royal Yacht, Victoria and Albert, which was sailing across the Devon coast off southern England. The young princess, then 13, joined her family on an informal visit to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where Philip was a cadet. The couple then started to write to each other.
Prince Philip joined the royal family at their Christmas party in Windsor. His visit sparked rumors in the newspaper of a possible romance between him and the Princess, according to Annie Bullen's biography of the Duke.
After a few years of exchanging letters while Philip was in the navy during World War II, he regularly visited Buckingham Palace, where he would "dine informally" with Elizabeth and her sister Margaret, according to Bullen.
In the summer, he stayed at Balmoral for three weeks; It is believed that this is where he proposed to the princess. It's widely believed that King George VI agreed to the marriage but asked them to wait a year for his daughter's 21st birthday before announcing the decision.
Prince Philip became a British citizen and renounced his royal title, becoming Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten R.N.
Their engagement was announced on July 9, by the King and Queen Elizabeth, via the court circular.
"It is with the greatest of pleasure that the King and Queen announce the betrothal of their dearly beloved daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. RN, son of the late Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Andrew (Princess Alice of Battenberg) to which union the King has gladly given his consent," the statement said.
The couple later posed for official engagement photographs outside Buckingham Palace and four months later they were married.
The wedding was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in front of 2,000 invited guests. The wedding was not particularly ostentatious given the poor economical state of post war-Britain. However, the couple received more than 2,500 gifts from around the world and 10,000 telegrams, according to the BBC.
The wedding cake was an impressive four tiers and nine feet high, with ingredients donated by the Australian girl guides—as the UK was in the grip of a sugar-rationing program—according to Bullen.
The couple honeymooned on the Balmoral estate in Scotland.
The newlyweds undertook their first public visit overseas to Paris, France. According to Bullen, the French people "fell in love with the charming English royals," overnight.
Their first child, Charles Philip Arthur George, was born on November 14 at Buckingham Palace, less than a week before the couple's first wedding anniversary.
The couple moved into Clarence House months after a temporary stay in the apartments of Buckingham Palace. A few months later, Philip returned to active service with the navy and flew out to Malta. His wife joined him in November to celebrate their second wedding anniversary.
The couple's second child, Princess Anne, was born.
The couple embarked on an official tour of Australia, New Zealand, and Africa at the King's request. While the couple was staying at a royal hunting lodge in Kenya, news broke at home that on February 6, King George VI had died peacefully in his sleep, aged 56.
It was Prince Philip who reportedly broke the news to the heir of the throne. The Queen returned to London on February 8 and was formally proclaimed Queen and Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith. The couple soon moved from Clarence House into the royal home of the monarch, Buckingham Palace.
The coronation of the new Queen took place in front of more than 8,000 guests at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony watched by around 20 million people across the world.
According to Bullen, the Queen and the prince had practiced the coronation, with Philip tying together bed sheets to replicate her train.
During the ceremony, Prince Philip proclaimed, in front of the world, while he knelt: "I, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship."
He then rose to his feet and kissed her on the cheek.
December 1953 - May 1954
The Queen and Duke left London for a lengthy six-month tour of the Commonwealth including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Caribbean Islands, various African nations, and Malta and Gibraltar in Europe.
The Duke embarked on a solo tour for four months which included a visit to Melbourne, Australia, to open the Olympic Games.
This was the year he also set up his flagship Duke of Edinburgh award scheme—which still runs in schools throughout the UK today.
The royal family's name had been confirmed by the Queen in her accession to the throne to be Windsor. However, on February 8, the Queen and Duke decided that they would like their own direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the Royal Family—as Windsor was used by all descendants of George V.
In a declaration, the Queen said to the Privy Council that the Queen's descendants would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor, a fusion of both hers and the Duke's name.
The Queen's children often do not need a surname as they are referred to as their Royal Highness, or Prince or Princess, but in the occasion they would, they would be known as Mountbatten-Windsor.
The couple's third child, Prince Andrew, was born on February 19.
The Duke and Queen entertained the couple of the moment, President John Kennedy and First Lady Jackie, at Buckingham Palace.
The couple's fourth and final child, Prince Edward, was born on March 10 at Buckingham Palace.
The royal couple celebrated 25 years of marriage where they received around 15,000 congratulatory letters and 2,500 telegrams from around the world.
Photos of the entire family celebrating the occasion at Buckingham Palace were made public and a Thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey was also held.
Princess Anne becomes the first of the couple's children to be married. She married army lieutenant Mark Phillips in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey on a national holiday in front of an estimated 500 million viewers, according to the BBC.
The Queen and Duke's first grandchild, Peter Mark Andrew Phillips, was born to Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips on November 15 at St. Mary's Hospital in London.
The baby was the first royal baby to be born a commoner, and with no royal title, for more than 500 years as Princess Anne is said to have rejected the Queen's offer to give her children royal titles.
The Queen made history by becoming the first British monarch to make a state visit to the Vatican to meet Pope John Paul II.
The Duke accompanied his wife and the visit was seen as a big step in improving relations between the Roman Catholic church and Church of England, reports the BBC.
The Queen and Duke's eldest child, and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, married Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral.
Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey, the Queen conferred the title Duke of York—traditionally held by the sovereign's second son, as was the case with her father prior to his coronation—to her third eldest child just 90 minutes before the ceremony, reports the BBC.
The Queen and Duke helped rescue huge numbers of priceless work from Windsor Castle after it caught fire.
Prince Andrew told the BBC his mother was "devastated" by the damage to the property which took 250 firefighters 15 hours to hose down. The Queen would later call 1992 her "annus horribilis," thanks to the fire, three of her children's marriages ending as well as a number of highly publicized scandals surrounding Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
The Queen and Duke marked their golden wedding anniversary at a lunch at the Banqueting House in London.
The Queen delivered a speech where she gave some insight into a notoriously private marriage.
"All too often, I fear, 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."
On the same day, the Duke of Edinburgh gave a speech where he shared the one key ingredient he believed a successful marriage needs.
"I think the main lesson that we have learned is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage. It may not be quite so important when things are going well, but it is absolutely vital when the going gets difficult.
"You can take it from me that The Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance."
The Queen celebrated another milestone in the form of her golden jubilee.
In a speech in front of Prime Minister Tony Blair and others at the guildhall in London, the Queen thanked Philip for staying at her side throughout her 50 years as Queen.
"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."
The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated 60 years together with a diamond wedding service at Westminster Abbey which featured readings from their grandson Prince William and the actress Dame Judi Dench.
Ten other couples who also married on that day in 1947 also attended the service, the BBC reported at the time.
Official photographs of the couple were also taken at Broadlands in Hampshire, which was the home of Prince Philip's uncle, Earl Mountbatten, and where the couple spent their wedding night 60 years before.
The Queen was seen visiting the Duke in hospital, where he was admitted for two nights due to a bladder infection, meaning he missed out on some of the Diamond jubilee celebrations taking place in London that year, the BBC reported.
The couple's youngest son, the Earl of Wessex, told reporters that his mother was coping with the absence of her husband "but missing him, obviously."
The Queen and Prince Philip were featured in a new portrait, taken by Annie Leibovitz, to celebrate the monarch's 90th birthday and the Duke of Edinburgh's 95th.
"He has, quite simply, been my strength & stay all these years" A photo for #Queenat90 & The Duke's 95th birthday pic.twitter.com/7nO4Q98bhHJune 9, 2016
The Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary. In honor of the truly impressive milestone, the royal family posted a lovely picture of the couple on their honeymoon, which started at Broadlands, a Mountbatten family estate before moving on to Scotland.
A photo posted by on
Sadly, on the morning of April 9, 2021, Prince Philip passed. The news was announced via a statement on the royal family's official website, which read that he died peacefully. The Queen truly adored her husband, her partner for more than three-quarters of her life. A marriage for the fairy tale books.
A photo posted by on
On September 8, 2022, Queen Elizabeth died at the age of 96. In a statement from the royal family, it was announced that "the Queen died peacefully at Balmoral," her Scottish estate, while surrounded by her family.
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Olivia is ELLE's Digital News Editor covering pop culture, royal, lifestyle and women's news and features. Previously a features writer for Hearst's digital brands and lifestyle reporter at The Independent, she's amassed a healthy - and varied - expertise of Meghan Markle, women's and reproductive health issues and all 10 seasons of Friends.
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