Seventy years ago, a beautiful princess married her handsome prince amidst the pomp and pageantry at Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947, at 10.30 am.
About 200 million people around the world watched the historic BBC broadcast.
Two thousand guests were invited to the ceremony, including King Haakon VII of Norway, King Gustaf VI Adolf and Queen Louise of Sweden, King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark, Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Prince Jean, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Princess Elisabeth of Luxembourg and King Faisal II of Iraq.
Prince Philip was created the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in London the day before.
At the time, Princess Elizabeth was heir to the British throne in post-war Britain, at a time of austerity with food and clothing rations and coupons.
Crowds lined the streets to see a radiant Princess Elizabeth riding in the Irish State Coach with her father King George VI during the short journey to Westminster Abbey.
She had eight bridesmaids: HRH Princess Margaret, HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent, Lady Caroline Montague-Douglas-Scott, Lady Mary Cambridge, the Hon Pamela Hicks (nee Mountbatten), the Hon Margaret Rhodes (nee Elphinstone) and Lady Elizabeth Longman (nee Lambart).
Only two of the eight bridesmaids, Princess Alexandra and Pamela Hicks are still alive today.
David Mountbatten, the Marquess of Milford Haven, was Prince Philip’s best man whilst Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent served as page boys.
Post-war food rations proved to be an obstacle so the Girl Guides of Australia came to the rescue and donated most of the ingredients. After all, Princess Elizabeth was the Chief Ranger of the British Empire.
So the Girl Guides at the Guides Headquarters in Melbourne carefully packed and loaded the ingredients aboard the Stratheden for London.
McVitie and Price baked the official cake which was nine feet high with four tiers, and decorated with the arms of both families and the bridal couple’s monograms.
Girl Guides and Sea Ranger badges adorned the top tier of the wedding cake as a tribute to its donors.
The Australian Guide Headquarters received some cake in February 1948 as a token of thanks.
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip received over 2,500 wedding presents and around 10,000 congratulatory telegrams from around the world.
Many of these gifts, including practical items such as a bookshelf, a sewing machine and a fridge, went on display at St James’s Palace where crowds braved the cold weather to see them.
However, they weren’t the first couple to meet at a royal wedding. King Michael I of Romania met his future wife, Anne of Bourbon-Palma during the celebrations leading up to the Royal Wedding.
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip spent their wedding night at his uncle’s, Earl Mountbatten’s estate at Broadlands. The Princess’ corgi, Susan, accompanied the bridal couple on the honeymoon.
They spent the rest of their honeymoon at Birchall on the Balmoral Estate.
George VI later wrote a letter to his eldest daughter saying how proud he was of her.
First Meeting and Courtship
They first met in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth’s uncle, Prince George Duke of Kent, to Prince Philip’s cousin Princess Marina of Greece.
Elizabeth and Philip’s paths had crossed at other family events, as they are both descended from Queen Victoria. His mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, married Prince Andrew of Greece but they were forced to flee into exile so a British ship was sent to rescue the family.
However, it wasn’t until Princess Elizabeth, aged 13, became smitten with Prince Philip, then aged 18, during a visit to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth on 22 July 1939 when he played host.
Some claim it was Prince Philip’s uncle, Louis Mountbatten who played matchmaker as he had accompanied King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the two princesses.
‘How good he is, Crawfie. How high he can jump.’
Meanwhile, Marion Crawford, Princess Elizabeth’s governess known as Crawfie, had thought Prince Philip was a real show-off.
They corresponded occasionally during the war, whilst Philip was on active duty in the navy. Philip also spent several of his rare leaves at Windsor, regaling King George with an account of his Mediterranean adventures.
Philip faced severe opposition from the King’s senior courtiers, who viewed him with deep suspicion, especially as he was not British.
The King’s assistant private secretary Sir Alan Lascelles dismissed Philip as a “penniless foreign princeling”.
Politician and author Henry “Chips” Channon objected to the marriage saying they were too closely related.
However, George VI dreaded his eldest daughter leaving the family nest so the royal family embarked on a tour of South Africa in 1947. Elizabeth knew what she wanted, as the enforced separation did nothing to cool the young couple’s romance. They announced their engagement shortly after her return.
Buckingham Palace officially announced their engagement on 9 July 1947, after the Royal Family had returned from their visit to South Africa.
Platinum Anniversary Portraits
Prince Philip has been Queen Elizabeth’s first and only love, despite rumours that he was a ‘ladies’ man’.
Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh are the first royal couple in British history to celebrate a Platinum Wedding Anniversary.
However, there are no public events planned and this milestone will be celebrated in private at Windsor Castle.
Buckingham Palace released new photos to mark Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh’s 70th wedding anniversary.
The Queen and the Duke stand in front of portraits of King George III and Queen Charlotte, who were Britain’s second-longest married royal couple, in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.
First-time royal photographer Matt Holyoak took the photographic portraits in early November.
‘I feel very honoured and privileged to have been asked to contribute to this very special occasion,” says Matt. “My vision for the image was to capture an intimate and natural portrait of the Queen and Duke to celebrate their landmark anniversary.
‘The Queen and the Duke were very happy and relaxed which made it a pleasure.’
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