Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip shared a love story that spanned over 70 years. In the wake of Philip’s death, look back at their romance from their engagement, wedding, and beyond.
They’re one of the most famous couples in the world, and one of the longest lasting love stories of all time. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were dedicated partners in their marriage for more than 70 years. The two fell in love at a young age, and went on to meet challenges throughout the queen’s reign. They were an enduring symbol of the British monarchy, and now, after Philip’s death, we’re taking a look back at their romantic timeline, through decades of marriage, and more.
When Did Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip Meet & Get Engaged?
Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, first met Prince Philip, then Philip Mountbatten, in 1934. At the time, Elizabeth was just a child, roughly eight years old, and Philip was no more than a young teen. About five years later, the two met again and became friendly. “Well, we’d met at Dartmouth, and as far as I was concerned it was a very amusing experience, going on board the yacht and meeting them, and that sort of thing, and that was that,” Prince Philip told biographer Basil Boothroyd, per Devon Live.
In the years that followed Philip and Elizabeth maintained their correspondence before Philip finally asked Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, for his eldest daughter’s hand in marriage. In July 1947, the young couple announced their engagement to the world. At the time, a writer for The Guardian said of the union, “It is clearly a marriage of choice, not of arrangement. Princess Elizabeth has won a place of high affection in the hearts of the people. She is already doing the work of her station with the same skill and tact as her parents. All will wish her the full happiness that a marriage of affection can bring.”
Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip’s Fairytale Wedding
On November 20, 1947, Elizabeth and Prince Philip exchanged their wedding vows at Westminster Abbey. It was a monumental occasion, for which nearly the entire country stopped to enjoy the couple’s union in the aftermath of World War II. Then-Princess Elizabeth was joined by her father in the coach that took them to the Abbey, where she met her future husband, who had been given the title Duke of Edinburgh.
The entire ceremony was also recorded on radio for subjects across the nation to hear. Dignitaries from around the world attended the wedding, as well. Following the ceremony, Elizabeth and Philip made an appearance on the iconic balcony of Buckingham palace to wave to subjects. The moment has become a tradition in the royal family, with more famous couples, including the queen’s grandson Prince William and his wife Duchess Kate Middleton, appearing for the greeting and photo opportunity.
Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip Become Parents
Not long after their wedding, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, still then just the Duke and Princess, set-up house at the famed Clarence House, so that they could be near Buckingham Palace. Almost exactly one year after their wedding, Philip and Elizabeth welcomed their first child together, the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles. Charles was born on November 14, 1948, and his sister, Princess Anne, was born on August 15, 1950.
The couple lived a very low-key life, apart from their royal duties and events. The two along with their children also spent time in the gorgeous destination of Malta, where the young family spent time in the sun and away from British life. This point is considered the “most ‘normal’ of [Elizabeth’s] entire life,” according to biographer Ben Pimlott, per People. In the years to come, everything would change for Elizabeth and her family.
Elizabeth Becomes The Queen
In February 1952, Elizabeth suffered an incredible blow. Her father died at the age of 56, and it was Elizabeth’s turn to wear the crown. Elizabeth was roughly 25 years old at the time, with two young children. Years after her marriage, Queen Elizabeth II returned to Westminster Abbey for her coronation on June 2, 1953. The event marked a major turning point in the couple’s marriage, as they were immediately thrust onto the international stage with far more scrutiny on them than in years prior. But through international events, domestic affairs, royal engagements, rumors and more, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II maintained their strong bond and union.
Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip Have Two More Children
Roughly seven years into her reign as sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II gave birth to her and Prince Philip’s third child, son Prince Andrew on February 19, 1960. Four years later, the couple welcomed their youngest child, son Prince Edward, on March 10, 1964. As a way to try and connect with the people of the United Kingdom, the family of six came together for a 1969 documentary entitled Royal Family. The documentary, which followed the royals through different engagements and various duties, sought to give the public a look at how the royals were just like them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t particularly well-received and has been ‘banned’ for decades, per CNN.
Their Milestone Wedding Anniversary
In November 1972, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip celebrated a major milestone in their relationship and marriage. The couple commemorated their 25th anniversary, a joyous occasion, for which they posed for a portrait with members of their family. It was a beautiful occasion, but the fabric of the royal family would become more strained in the decades to come due to family conflict and the nation’s scrutiny on the royal family.
Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip’s Difficult 1997
Although 1997 would mark a happy occasion for Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II as they commemorated their 50th wedding anniversary, it was also marred by tragedy. Princess Diana‘s tragic death in August 1997 marked a turning point for the royal family. Public scrutiny became quite intense and Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip had to both adjust how they interacted with the citizens of the United Kingdom. Through it all, though, their union was made that much stronger, leading to one of the highlights of their life together.
Prince Philip Retires From Royal Life
After decades of service to the royal family, Prince Philip made the decision to retire from royal life. “His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh [Prince Philip] has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year,” a statement made by the Royal Family on May 4, 2017 read. “In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of [Queen Elizabeth II].”
But this new phase meant that Prince Philip could support his wife and attend to other dutires. “The Duke Of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements. Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family.”
More Than 70 Years By One Another’s Side
The most significant occasion in their marriage thus far came in November 2020, when Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II celebrated 73 years of marriage. A photo of the couple was released to commemorate the occasion. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s union has stood the test of time. Through tragedy and triumph they’ve been by one another’s side, for more than 70 years dedicated to each other and the United Kingdom.
Prince Philip Dies At 99
After a long battle with health problems, including an unspecified heart condition, Prince Philip died at the age of 99 on April 9, 2021. Philip’s death came a month after he was hospitalized for over two weeks while battling an infection and undergoing a procedure for his pre-existing heart problem. Queen Elizabeth announced her husband’s death in a statement through Buckingham Palace:
“It is with deep sorrow that her Majesty the Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the statement read. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Palace. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family will join people around the world in mourning his loss.”