Prince Philip, the irascible and tough-minded husband of Queen Elizabeth II who spent more than seven decades supporting his wife in a role that both defined and constricted his life, has died in Buckingham Palace at the age of 99.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have a magical love story, though there are dark parts, as there are in any good story. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have been married for more than 70 years, making theirs the longest marriage in the history of the sovereign. Despite the fact that they've been together for so long.
Philip was born into the Greek and Danish royal families. He was born in Greece, but his family was exiled from the country when he was an infant. After being educated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939.
Queen and Prince Philip met when they were very young. The Queen once wrote a letter about the time she met Prince Philip. She wrote that the two of them first met at the Royal Naval College in July 1939, when she was just 13-years-old. She quickly fell for 18-year-old Philip, who was a naval cadet at the time.
After the two met as teenagers, they began a correspondence and started spending time together when they could. Their friendship blossomed into a relationship on its own.
In 1946, Philip asked King George VI for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The king agreed on one condition – that the formal announcement of the engagement was delayed until Elizabeth turned 21 the following April because the king and his wife Queen Elizabeth were reluctant to approve the marriage out of fear that their daughter was "too young".
They both married on Nov. 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey. Just look at her gown! The marriage was a major national celebration but came at a hard time for the country, which was still recovering from World War II.
At the very beginning of their marriage, Elizabeth did not yet hold the title of the Queen of England so she actually took Philip's name. When they married, Philip became the Duke of Edinburgh, a title he still holds today. Elizabeth became the Duchess of Edinburgh. However, that all changed once her father died. Elizabeth ascended the throne and became Her Majesty The Queen, while Philip stayed a Duke.
From about 1949 until 1951, the Queen and Philip lived in Villa Guardamangia in Valletta (the capital of Malta) because he was based there in the navy. Biographer Ben Pimlott wrote that these were the "most 'normal' of her entire life." The two were newly married, had only one child, and Elizabeth was not yet Queen. Their private secretary (at the time) Mike Parker called it a "fabulous period."
If you've ever watched The Crown, then you know that Philip has long struggled with his wife being the Queen and effectively having a lot more power than him. While the Netflix show is only somewhat based in reality and isn't always completely factual, that part of the story is rooted in truth.
In 1952, When King George died and 25 years old Elizabeth became Queen, Philip had to give up the naval career he loved to help her with her royal duties. They moved from Clarence House, the home he loved, to Buckingham Palace, something he wasn't thrilled about. The Crown depicts Philip as an alpha male frustrated by his role and title, and real reports seem to back that up.
Philip was also not happy that the family didn't take his name. He wanted his last name, Mountbatten, to be the royal family name. When Queen Mary heard this, she and the Queen Mother were angry and wanted to keep the Windsor name. Winston Churchill agreed and they all convinced Elizabeth to choose Windsor.
Once Prince Philip told his friends, "I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his children. I'm nothing but a bloody amoeba."
In 1992, the Queen had what she has famously described as a "horrible year". The marriages of three out of four of her children had ended, and the whole family had been the attention of multiple media scandals (including, notably, the confirmation of an affair between Charles, Prince of Wales, and socialite Camilla Parker Bowles). Also that year, a fire broke out at Windsor Castle, one of the Queen’s residences, causing extensive damage.
The royal couple has also had to face a number of other close bereavements over the years. These include, notably, the death of the Queen Mother in 2002, and the death of the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, in the same year.
It's hard to imagine anyone calling the Queen anything but "Her Majesty," but Philip does. According to Sally Bedell Smith's book, Elizabeth The Queen, Philip calls his wife "sausage." The story behind the name is that she doesn't have a naturally smiling face...so when she meets people, she often looks grumpy. On one formal occasion, Philip said to her, "Don't look so sad, Sausage."
For their 50th wedding anniversary, Philip gave a rare speech about his marriage. He said that what has made their relationship work is the fact that they're tolerant of each other: "I think the main lesson that we have learned is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage. It may not be quite so important when things are going well, but it is absolutely vital when the going gets difficult. You can take it from me that the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance."
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip grew closer together over the years, to the point where the Queen has said, "He is my strength and my stay." She needs Philip in her life, and he is equally besotted to his wife. They make a good pair. He has the sense of humor that Elizabeth so enjoys, and he can be rather naughty at times, which amuses Queen Elizabeth too.
They are bonded together. There is a romance for the ages. And For more than 70 years Prince Philip has been the Queen's absolute rock and a constant source of unwavering support.