FROM THE ARCHIVE | A timeline of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth’s royal love story

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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were married for 73 years. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were married for 73 years. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

Prince Philip’s passing will be an unimaginable loss for the queen, who has spoken on numerous occasions of her husband’s unwavering love and support, which has seen her through many torrid times.

His cheeky sense of humour also matched hers, and many have said that was one of the secrets to their lasting marriage – the longest of any British royal.

“Their relationship has withstood the test of time primarily because they loved one another very much,” royal expert and historian Christopher Warwick, told Vanity Fair in May 2020.

We take a look at their royal love story.

1934: First meeting

Elizabeth was just eight when she met Philip at the wedding of Princess Marina and Prince George.

July 1939: When sparks flew

Five years later, the pair reconnected at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth when Elizabeth’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, asked an 18-year-old Philip, then a young naval recruit, to escort their children, Elizabeth (13) and Margaret (11), around. The pair hit it off and soon after began exchanging letters, which lasted right through the Second World War where they both served.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth reconnected at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.

1947: The engagement

Philip popped the question in 1946 but it was made public on 9 July the following year.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
The royal pair got engaged in 1946. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

November 1947: The wedding

They royal couple tied the knot at Westminster Abbey in front of about 2 000 guests in a restrained ceremony in keeping with Britain’s post-war austerity. They spent part of their honeymoon at the Scottish royal estate of Balmoral.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip tied the knot at Westminster Abbey in 1947. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)
Approximately 2000 people attended their wedding. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

November 1948: Birth of Charles

On 14 November they welcomed their first child – Prince Charles Philip Arthur George.

Prince Charles
The pair welcomed Prince Charles in 1948. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

August 1950: Birth of Anne

The couple welcomed their second child and only daughter, Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise, on 15 August.

Princess Anne
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip welcomed their only daughter, Princess Anne, in 1950. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

June 1953: Elizabeth’s coronation

On 2 June, with more than 8 000 guests present at Westminster Abbey and 20 million people tuning in around the world, Elizabeth was crowned the queen of England.

During the coronation, Philip knelt and told her, “I, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship.”

In 1953 Elizabeth was crowned the queen of England. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

February 1960: Birth of Andrew & a new name

Just days before the birth of third child, Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward on 19 February, Elizabeth told the Privy Council that her descendants would carry the name Mountbatten-Windsor, a combination of her surname and Philip’s.

Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew was born in 1960. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

March 1964: Birth of Edward

They welcomed their fourth and last child, Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis, on 10 March.

The pair welcomed their youngest child in 1964. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

November 1972: Silver wedding anniversary

As they celebrated 25 years of marriage, they received an outpouring of love from around the world. This included around 15 000 letters and 2 500 telegrams, including congratulations from the kings of Tonga and Thailand and the emperors of Japan and Ethiopia.

Queen Elizabeth celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in 1972. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

November 1977: First grandchild

Princess Anne gave the royal couple their first grandchild when she gave birth to Peter Mark Andrew Phillips on 15 November.

Peter Philip
The royal couple welcomed their first grandchild in 1977. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

November 1992: Elizabeth’s “annus horribilis”

Philip once again proved to be a rock as the queen endured one of her worst years. “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure,” Elizabeth said in a speech commemorating her 40th year as queen. “In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.”

That year saw three of their children – Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew separating from their partners, and a fire almost destroying Windsor Castle. 

In 1992 a fire almost destroyed Windsor Castle. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

1997: Golden wedding anniversary

Elizabeth and Philip marked their 50th wedding anniversary with a celebratory lunch at Banqueting House in London.

Of her husband, the queen said, “He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,” she said.

“And I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”

The pair celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

2002: Elizabeth celebrates 50 years on the British throne

In her Golden Jubilee speech at the Guildhall in June 2002, the queen praised her husband as the source of her strength. “I take this opportunity to mention the strength I draw from my own family. The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past 50 years, as he has to so many charities and organisations with which he has been involved.”

The couple celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in November that year.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at her Golden Jubilee. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

April 2009: Another milestone

Philip became the longest serving spouse of a British monarch when he surpassed the record of Queen Charlotte, wife to King George III of 57 years and 70 days.

2010: First great-grandchild

Elizabeth and Philip became great-grandparents for the first time in December 2010 with the birth of Savannah, daughter to their eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, and his wife, Autumn.

Elizabeth and Philip became welcomed their first great-grandchild in December 2010. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

2011: Celebrating his 90th birthday

As a gift for this milestone on 10 June, Elizabeth bestowed on her husband the title of Lord High Admiral of the Navy. The position is a ceremonial one. It was widely viewed as her way of acknowledging the sacrifice Philip made when he gave up a promising career in the Navy when she ascended the throne.

The milestone was also celebrated with a private service in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

90th birthday
Elizabeth bestowed on her husband the title of Lord High Admiral of the Navy on his 90th birthday. (Phot0: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

2012: Diamond Jubilee

The queen’s 60th year as British monarch was celebrated across Great Britain. But amid the celebrations, Philip had to be admitted to hospital on 4 June with a bladder infection. As a result, the queen attended only part of the evening’s concert in her honour. He was discharged on 9 June.

2017: Philip steps back

In May, Buckingham Palace announced Philip would be retiring from royal duties in August. At the time of his retirement, Philip had attended 22 219 royal appointments and made 5 496 speeches in his 65 years as a public figure.

November 2017: First royal couple to celebrate a platinum anniversary

After retiring, Philip settled on the royals’ Sandringham Estate. To celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, the couple hosted an intimate dinner. The palace issued official pictures taken beforehand.

2019: Philip stops driving after crash

In January the then 97-year-old Duke of Edinburgh made headlines when he crashed his Range Rover into another car near Sandringham. Two women were injured in the crash. A nine-month-old baby that had been in the car with the women was unharmed. Philip publicly apologised for his part in the crash and three weeks later relinquished his driver’s licence.

In 2019, Prince Philip was involved in a car accident. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

May 2019: Last public appearances

On 8 May Harry and Meghan introduced their newborn son, Archie, to his great-grandparents. In the pic shared on Instagram later that day, Philip smiles dotingly at his eighth great-grandchild.

Ten days later, Philip was seen for the last time at a royal event when he attended the wedding of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent’s daughter, Lady Gabriella, in St George’s Chapel. Philip spent four days in the King Edward Hospital in December for a pre-existing condition.

Prince Harry and Meghan introduced Archie to his great-grandparents. (Photo: INSTAGRAM)

2020: Into lockdown

With the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, Philip left Sandringham and joined the queen in Windsor Castle to isolate together. A picture of the couple was issued in June to celebrate the duke’s 99th birthday. In July, Philip was also included in the official picture of Princess Beatrice’s intimate wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Philip and Elizabeth were among only 20 guests to attend the event.

In November, another picture of the couple was released to celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary. In the picture, they’re looking at a card made by Prince William’s children, Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte.

He spent Christmas quietly at home in Windsor – in contrast to the large family gatherings the royals usually host at Sandringham.


Three days after Philip was once again admitted to hospital, his granddaughter Princess Eugenie announced she was naming her 11-day-old son after his great-grandfather. The child’s name is August Philip Hawke Brooksbank and is Philip and Elizabeth’s ninth great-grandchild.


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