'She Fell in Love, and She Never Looked at Anyone Else'

Romance between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip burned strong for 7-plus decades
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2022 11:56 AM CDT
He Was by Her Side From the Start
In this June 2, 1953, file photo, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, wave to supporters from the balcony at Buckingham Palace following her coronation at Westminster Abbey in London.   (AP Photo/Leslie Priest, File)

The headlines have been dominated by Queen Elizabeth after her death Thursday at the age of 96. But ever-present in the background is the person she once called her "strength and stay": husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021 at 99. Before his death, the two were married for 73 years, making them the longest-married pair in royal history, per Fox News. The two first met at a wedding when Elizabeth was only 8 and Philip was 13, though romance didn't bloom until they met up again five years later. After Philip left to serve in World War II, the two began exchanging letters, and by the time she was 17, Elizabeth had determined he was "the one," despite some family resistance, per the Telegraph. They married on Nov. 20, 1947, and Elizabeth became queen in 1952, when her father King George VI died.

Elizabeth and Philip went on to have four children—Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward—and to most spectators, their relationship remained an affectionate one. Their public face together, however, wasn't necessarily their private one. Friends say Elizabeth deferred more to the "alpha male" Philip behind closed doors, whom the Guardian describes as "naturally brusque" and "easily exasperated"—a contrast to the queen's more cautious demeanor. The outlet reviews some of the spicier anecdotes from their marriage, which include one story of Elizabeth tensing up while Philip was driving too fast, leading him to snap at her, "If you do that once more, I shall put you out of the car." Elizabeth apparently gave it right back to him at times: Biographer Sarah Bradford says when Philip would go off on a rant, Elizabeth wasn't afraid to say, "Oh, Philip. Do shut up. You don't know what you're talking about."

Still, the prince was "the only man in the world who [treated] the queen simply as another human being," Lord Charteris, Elizabeth's former private secretary, once noted. "He's the only man who can." The queen herself described Philip in a 1997 speech marking their 50th wedding anniversary, noting: "He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments. But he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years." Philip returned the adoration, saying in his own golden-anniversary tribute, "I think the main lesson we have learned is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient for any happy marriage." It was a romance that endured for more than seven decades. "She fell in love, and she never looked at anyone else," biographer Sally Bedell Smith said of Elizabeth in a November interview with People. See the photos in our gallery for a walk back through their years together. (More Queen Elizabeth II stories.)

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