No questions asked Queen Victoria, and Prince Albert have one of the most famous love stories of the royal family of all time. Although Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip do have one that comes a close second.
It all started when the two met at the wedding of Philip’s cousin, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark to Elizabeth’s uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent in 1934. The future husband and wife met once more in 1937 at King George VI’s coronation and again in July 1938 at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. Princess Elizabeth, only 13-years-old at the time, fell in love with the prince and they started to exchange letters.
While attending a tea with the Royal Family, Marion “Crawfie” Crawford, Princess Elizabeth’s governess, later wrote of how Princess Elizabeth “never took her eyes off him.” Philip “did not pay her any special attention”, as she was still in her youth and he was a budding adult. Elizabeth’s love never swayed recalled Margaret Rhodes, Elizabeth’s cousin, as “she never looked at anyone else”.
Princess Elizabeth and Philip are second cousins once removed through Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel, and third cousins through Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. References to their marriage began as early as 1941 in a diary entry by the politician, Sir Henry “Chips” Channon. Channon noted: “He is to be our Prince Consort, and that is why he is serving in our Navy.”
Over the following years as the princess grew up, Philip would visit the family at their many homes, keeping in close contact with all of them. During Christmas 1943 whilst at Windsor Castle, friends and family began to notice the burgeoning romance between the two. Prince Philip impressed King George telling his mother he was “intelligent, has a good sense of humour and thinks about things in the right way.” King George and Queen Elizabeth held off on allowing their 17-year-old daughter to have a suitor.
A secret engagement between the two took place in 1946 without even consulting her parents. After Prince Philip had asked King George VI for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, he granted Philip only asking that a formal engagement wait for Elizabeth’s 21st birthday the following April. On 9 July 1947, their engagement was officially announced.
A few nights before the wedding, 18 November, the King and Queen held a celebratory ball. An evening that guests were sure to remember for a lifetime. King George VI even led a conga line through the staterooms (close your eyes and you can picture a young Elizabeth joining in!).
For the marriage to take place, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles. He also converted to Anglicanism from Greek Orthodoxy and took the style Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, his British mother’s surname. The day before their wedding, King George VI bestowed the style His Royal Highness and the day following their wedding on 19 November 1947, he was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.
Both Elizabeth and Philip do not believe in showing public displays of affection, but that does not mean they do not love each other. In a letter to Elizabeth, he wrote: “all the good things which have happened to me,” especially “to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly.” In a letter to his mother, he noted, “Cherish Lilibet? I wonder if that word is enough to express what is in me.” His new wife was “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.”
In a letter, Elizabeth wrote to her parents on her honeymoon, she penned that they “behave as though we had belonged to each other for years! Philip is an angel—he is so kind and thoughtful.”
The loving quotes recorded between the couple could go on forever. Their love story has stood the test of time, but to end this one of my favorite quotes that just goes to show their easy affection and deep love between them. While visiting their friends in Kent, John Bradbourne commented to Philip saying “I never realized what lovely skin she has.””Yes,” Philip replied, “she’s like that all over.”