Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will add another landmark to her record-breaking reign on Monday, November 20 when she celebrates her 70th wedding anniversary with husband Prince Philip.
Princess Elizabeth, as she was at the time, married dashing naval officer Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at London’s Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947, in a lavish ceremony attended by statesmen and royalty from around the world.
Seventy years on, Elizabeth, 91, and her 96-year-old husband will mark their platinum anniversary with a small, family party at Windsor Castle, the monarch’s home to the west of London. A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said there would be no public event to mark the occasion.
Greek-born Philip, a descendant of Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria in his own right, has been at his wife’s side throughout her 65-year reign, the longest in British history. He was the person who broke the news to her that her father was dead and she was queen.
“One of the secrets of this very, very long marriage and it’s an incredibly impressive anniversary, is the fact Prince Philip has always seen it as his main duty to support the queen, to help her in whatever way he can,” royal historian Hugo Vickers told Reuters.
“He is the only person who can actually tell the queen absolutely straight what he thinks and if he thinks some idea is ridiculous he will say so in whatever language he chooses to use.”
Their engagement was announced in July 1947 and they married four months later. With Britain still recovering from the hardships of World War Two, the wedding offered a rare burst of colour and pageantry against an austere background of rationing and shortages.
While some two billion people were estimated to have watched the couple’s grandson Prince William marry his wife Kate, their own wedding was only broadcast live to some 200 million radio listeners although highlights of the day were captured on grainy black and white film footage.
While royal watchers say Elizabeth and Philip have had their ups and downs like any married couple, they have avoided the travails of three of their four children whose marriages have ended in divorce, most notably heir Prince Charles’s ill-fated union with his late first wife Princess Diana.
Philip, who has suffered health issues in recent years and was hospitalised in June, retired from active public life in August.
However, they both attended a memorial service on Remembrance Sunday although a royal source said the queen had decided not to lay a wreath so she could watch from a nearby balcony alongside her husband.
“Without Prince Philip, the queen would have had a very tough and lonely life. He’s been a complete support to her a rock to her from the moment she was on the throne,” royal biographer Claudia Joseph told Reuters.