Marriages not made to last

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, celebrating their golden wedding anniversary this year, may be a model of domestic felicity, but as their children have shown, marriage is on the wane.

More than one in four couples who tied the knot the same year as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are celebrating their golden wedding anniversaries this year. Only one in 10 couples married in the 1990s is expected to make their 50th anniversary.

More than 400,000 couples married in England and Wales in 1947, according to the Office for National Statistics. Fewer than 300,000 couples now marry each year.

Of those married in 1947, 10 per cent have divorced, while of those who marry in the 1990s, 10 per cent will divorce within the first five years, nearly 25 per cent by 10 years and 41 per cent by 50 years.

Fifty years ago, more than 85 per cent of men and women were marrying for the first time. But in the 1990s, just seven out of 10 were married for the first time.