We often talk on this website about getting hitched, or getting married, one of the bigger events in ones life but not so much about the happy ever after. On April 9th Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh passed away at the age of 99 at Windsor Castle and we felt this was a good time to reflect and pay tribute to him and one of the most famous couples on the planet.
On 28th February 1947 Philip became a naturalised British subject before marrying the Queen. He also renounced his right to the Greek and Danish thrones and took his mother’s surname of Mountbatten. He also converted from Greek Orthodox to Anglicanism.
Before Prince Philip married Queen Elizabeth II one of the sacrifices he made was to change his surname. They were concerns about his foreign roots. Just coming out of the second world war with Germany. The Queen was advised by both her mother and Prime Minister at the time Winston Churchill, who was ‘suspicious’ of Philip and thought he could have done the country ‘harm’, according to documents in the 1950’s. For a period, no doubt this caused some frustration. As the Duke of Edinburgh once put it “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his children”.
Philip was 26 and Princess Elizabeth 21 years of age when they were married. They actually got married on 20th November 1947 at Westminster Abbey and the wedding was the first British royal wedding to be televised. On the eve of their wedding, King George VI, Princess Elizabeth II father bestowed the titles of the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich to Philip.
Prince Philip was an esteemed Naval Officer, rising though the ranks showing great competence and leadership. On 6th February 1952 the Queen ascended to the throne following the death of her father, King George VI. Philip had to break the news to Princess Elizabeth whilst they were abroad in Kenya. Philip had reached the rank of commander but left the Royal Navy to fulfill his duties as Prince Consort.
Philip met Elizabeth, when they were children. Prince Philip was at Dartmouth Naval College in Devon where he graduated as a top cadet. He was given the job of looking after Princess Elizabeth and her sister when the King toured the college. From the time she was 13, she was besotted…She never fell for another man.
No doubt it must have been a difficult transition for the Duke. As Anna Whitelock, history of the monarchy professor at the University of London, said the early days of the Queen’s ascension to the throne was clearly a difficult time for the duke.
“Here he was a man, having to give up his career – a very masculine career at that time – to effectively walk two steps behind his wife, who was ‘the boss’. I think that was difficult for him,” she told Saturday Breakfast on Radio 5 Live.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh had four children. Professor Whitelock also stressed the duke’s role as a “hands-on father” when his children were young, and his standing as the family patriarch. “He was the original house husband – looking after the children when the Queen was being Queen,” she said, but she insisted Prince Philip “was very much the boss at home”.
In 1997, on their 50th wedding anniversary, Queen Elizabeth had said of Philip, “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”
On his 90th birthday, the Queen made him Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom , as a sign of respect and acknowledgement for what he had given up for her. It was Lord Lewin who had suggested that had Prince Philip remained active in the Navy, it would have been Philip who became First Sea Lord, and not himself.
They were together for 73 years. What is the secret of this longevity? Well, Prince William said it like this “He makes her laugh because some of the things he says and does and the way he looks at life is obviously slightly different than her, so together they’re a great couple.”
Together they figured out how to become a double act and inter-change household roles, at a time when it wasn’t seen as the thing to do. Another secret about marriage that the Duke let on was when he once said “It’s a secret of a happy marriage to have different interests.”
A marriage story that started as a fairytale, continued with a happy ever after and will be remembered forever more as an enduring royal love story.
Photo credit: thenews.com.pk