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How Prince Philip and the Queen met: The story of a royal relationship

The couple got engaged 13 years after their first meeting, writes Olivia Petter

Tuesday 29 March 2022 10:40
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<p>Posing during their honeymoon in 1947 on Broadlands estate, Hampshire</p>

Posing during their honeymoon in 1947 on Broadlands estate, Hampshire

On Tuesday morning, the Queen and other senior members of the royal family will gather at Westminster Abbey for Prince Philip’s memorial service.

The Duke of Edinburgh and the monarch were married for 73 years until his death in April last year.

His funeral was attended by just 30 guests due to Covid-19 restrictions, with photographs from inside St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle showing the Queen sitting alone for the duration of the service.

Today’s event will mark the monarch’s first public appearance outside of her own residences this year.

Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Andrew will also be in attendance.

The Queen recently spoke of her love for Prince Philip in her 2021 Christmas message, telling the public: “Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones. This year, especially, I understand why.”

The couple were first introduced at the wedding of Prince Philip’s cousin, Princess Marina, to Prince George, Duke of Kent in 1934.

At the time, the Corfu-born Philip was the Prince of Greece and Denmark. He was 13 years old, while the then Princess Elizabeth was aged eight.

They met again five years later in 1939 at Dartmouth Royal Naval College.

According to Elizabeth’s governess, Marion Crawford, the princess was drawn to Philip’s “Viking” good looks. Crawford recalls in her memoir, The Little Princesses, that Philip caused the teenage Elizabeth to turn “pink-faced” when she saw him.

Another person close to Elizabeth who clocked her fondness of Philip early on was Margaret Rhodes, her cousin, who wrote in her autobiography, The Final Curtsey: A Royal Memoir by the Queen’s Cousin, that she “was truly in love from the very beginning”.

Apparently, Elizabeth’s attraction towards Philip was noted by his uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who described their first meeting as “a great success” in his diary.

After their initial meeting, Elizabeth and Philip began corresponding via letter while he served in the Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets during the Second World War.

When Philip returned, he asked Elizabeth's father, King George VI, for his permission to propose to her.

The couple announced their engagement on 9 July 1947. The ring was made by the jewellers Philip Antrobus using diamonds from a tiara belonging to Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg.

The wedding took place just four months after their engagement had been announced, with a ceremony at Westminster Abbey on 20 November.

Princess Elizabeth was the 10th member of the royal family to get married at Westminster Abbey, which was also the venue of choice for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011.

Prior to the wedding, Prince Philip was appointed the Duke of Edinburgh in addition to being conferred with two other titles, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in the County of London.

The couple invited 2,000 guests to their wedding ceremony, which was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, and the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett.

Elizabeth’s dress was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell. The floor-length gown featured floral and star patterns and was inspired by Boticelli's Primavera painting.

Made from duchess satin and decorated with 10,000 seed pearls that had been imported from the US, it also featured a 15ft-long train.

The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, which marked their platinum anniversary, in 2017.

The bells of Westminster Abbey were rung on the day to mark the occasion.

They celebrated with a private dinner with family and friends at Windsor Castle.

Click through the gallery above for the timeline of their royal relationship.

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