Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth – a young love story

Since their first meeting in 1939, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth endured a strong relationship lasting over 70 years, making Philip the longest-serving royal consort in British history.

The pair first met in the summer of 1939, when then Princess Elizabeth was 13 years old and Philip 18, while Elizabeth and her sister Margaret were on a trip to Dartmouth’s Britannia Royal Naval College with their parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and Philip were both great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria, yet had not met previously. Philip was the Prince of Greece at the time and was about to embark on a career with the Royal Navy.

Elizabeth belonged to a close loving family, however Philip had little connection to his parents once his family fled Greece after the abdication of his uncle, King Constantine I, following World War One.

Philip’s mother suffered from mental illness and his father left to live in France with a mistress, leaving Philip to spend his childhood in boarding schools.

They first met shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, as there had been a measles or chickenpox outbreak at the Royal Naval College so Philip was delegated to look after Elizabeth and Margaret.

It was then that Philip caught Elizabeth’s eye, and as the princesses’ governess described it, it was Philip’s good looks, his fair hair and blue eyes that attracted her.

Over the following years, the pair occasionally corresponded and sometimes met in royal quarters.

Philip was away in the Royal Navy during the war, however when he was on leave, he would come and visit the royal family at Windsor Castle where he would often see Princess Elizabeth.

In 1943, when Elizabeth was 17 and Philip 22, Philip spent Christmas with the family and was charmed by Elizabeth and the happy family life that was unlike his own.

Once returning to war, Philip was keen to marry the princess so his cousin, George of Greece, suggested the idea to the king who rejected the proposal, stating that Elizabeth was too young and Philip was unliked by courtiers.

In 1946, the war ended in Japan and Prince Phillip returned to Britain to teach naval officers in Wales.

He began to see Elizabeth more often, having suppers together and taking her and her sister Margaret out to restaurants or shows.

That year, Philip asked King George VI for his daughter’s hand in marriage and the king agreed on the condition that the formal engagement announcement be made when Elizabeth turned 21 the following April.

It was feared how Philip’s Greek and Danish relations were going to be viewed in post-war Britain, so once he was engaged to Elizabeth, he removed his Greek and Danish royal titles, taking the name Mountbatten making him a British subject.

Moreover, on the eve of their wedding, King George gave him the titles of Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.

The pair married on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey and went on to have four children together while Philip stood by Elizabeth as she ruled as the Queen of England.

You can check out all of SWL’s Prince Philip coverage here.

Featured image credit: Biblio Archives on Flickr

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