Though their marriage experienced its challenges like any relationship, there always remained a foundation of love and shared values. Over seven decades since they said ‘I do’, Prince Philip’s romantic gesture last year proved just that.
From a sweet Queen and Phillip throwback photo to the Duke’s unequivocal support, we take a look back at the lasting love story of the Queen and her “strength and stay”, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
1. Prince Philip made her laugh
No matter the occasion, the Prince always inspired a hearty laugh out of Her Majesty. In fact it was the Prince’s jovial nature that was one of the cornerstones of their 73-year marriage, according to former Conservative MP and royal author Gyles Brandreth.
Speaking to the Radio Times, he revealed that one of the keys to their lasting union was the fact that the Prince makes her laugh.
And it’s a good thing that the Queen enjoyed a chuckle, as the Queen’s biographer A.N. Wilson recently revealed. Speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival he argued that courtiers warned the monarch not to marry the Prince because he was too ‘funny’.
Luckily for the world she ignored their advice. And the royal couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2017. Aw!
2. He was a family man
Snapped in 1951 – four years after they were married – this adorable photograph shows Prince Phillip holding and proudly gazing at Princess Anne, alongside a young Prince Charles and his wife.
And over the next 70 years later, the Duke of Edinburgh continued to remain the picture of a doting father.
3. Prince Phillip’s passion for helping young people
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award marks its 65th Anniversary in 2021. The innovative youth awards programme has helped thousands of young people develop confidence and key life skills.
In a speech given to parliament to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday four years ago, former Prime Minister David Cameron recognised the Prince’s invaluable contribution. He said, “The Duke of Edinburgh who has stood by her side throughout her extraordinary reign. They have both served this country with an unshakeable sense of duty. And their work – including the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme and The Prince’s Trust – has inspired millions of people around the world.”
4. He was always there – emotionally and physically
In Ian Lloyd’s book The Duke: 100 Chapters in the Life of Prince Phillip, he notes how the Prince was always by her side. Wherever that may be in the world.
“Elizabeth II is the most travelled monarch in British history, having made some 266 overseas visits to 116 countries,” he writes.
“It has been calculated that she has travelled 1,032,513 miles – the equivalent of lapping the globe forty-two times. Equally amazing is that for every one of those million-plus miles, the Duke of Edinburgh has been by her side (or, more often than not, three steps behind).”
Despite the many articles detailing Prince Phillip’s famed gaffes, there is no doubting that the Prince had a serious side and proved to be a loyal and devoted husband to the Queen. In a rare interview to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Prince Harry had this to say on the subject: “Regardless of whether my grandfather seems to be doing his own thing, sort of wandering off like a fish down the river, the fact that he’s there – personally, I don’t think that she could do it without him.”
5. He helped keep her grounded
According to Lord Charteris, the monarch’s former private secretary, the fact that “Prince Philip is the only man in the world who treats the Queen simply as another human being,” is something that the Queen truly valued.
6. Prince Phillip cherished her from the outset
Prior to their wedding in 1947 the late Queen Mother sought assurances that Prince Philip would ‘cherish’ Elizabeth. He gave the following emotive reply:
‘Cherish Lilibet [the Queen’s childhood nickname]? I wonder if that word is enough to express what is in me’. He then went on to say that he had ‘fallen in love completely and unreservedly’, adding, “The only thing in this world which is absolutely real to me, and my ambition, is to weld the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us but will also have a positive existence for the good.”
7. He helped bring her out of her shell
In an article about his book Young Prince Philip: His Turbulent Early Life author Philip Eade described the transformative effect that the royal couple’s marriage had on the Queen, with one diplomat saying, “She had a protective shell around her and he brought her out of it. He helped to make her what she’s become.”
8. He was the yin to her yang
Speaking at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2006 the Prince revealed that the couple’s differences strengthened, rather than weakened, their marriage, saying, “It’s the secret of a happy marriage to have different interests.”
Famously, the couple enjoyed their own separate activities. The Queen continues to ride horses, whilst Philip preferred carriage riding in his later years.
9. He thought of every last detail
In a two-page letter handwritten note penned by the then 21-year-old Queen in 1947, she reveals that Prince Philip custom designed her engagement ring.
“The wedding ring will be made of Welsh gold, but not from the Craigwen mine. The engagement ring was made by Antrobus. Princess Alice took it in as Philip obviously couldn’t but he designed the ring,” she wrote.
10. He shared her view on what’s important in life
Prince Phillip was seeking a home and family from his marriage to the Queen, says Ian Lloyd in his new biography about the Duke of Edinburgh.
“Marriage to Princess Elizabeth and their four children together, not only gave Phillip a family but a sense of belonging.
“‘I think he’d always thought how marvellous it would be to have a home and family,’ said Gina Kennard, adding, “and he knew there would be a home of real security with the Queen’.”