Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip tied the knot on November 20, 1947 in Westminster Abbey before 2,000 guests, followed by an intimate wedding lunch at Buckingham Palace. Here, check out 10 facts you may not know about the longest-married British monarch. Plus: 10 more little-known facts about this royal couple!
1. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are third cousins - both are great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Philip's mother was born in Windsor Castle and he, in fact, has more royal blood than Elizabeth-his parents were Princess Alice of Battenberg and Prince Andrew of Greece, while Elizabeth's mother was of British nobility.
2. The pair first met when Elizabeth was 13 and Philip was 18, and it was love at first sight for the young royal. Her nanny, Marion "Crawfie" Crawford, remarked that Elizabeth "never took her eyes off him," though he "didn't pay her any special attention." Regardless, the two started corresponding through frequent letters while Philip was in the Navy. "Lilibet took pride in writing to a man who was fighting for our country," wrote Crawford in her book, The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by Her Nanny, Marion Crawford. "She never looked at anyone else," Elizabeth's cousin, Margaret Rhodes, told Vanity Fair.
3. After denying engagement rumors, the King and Queen took Elizabeth and her sister with them on a four-month trip to South Africa in early 1947, rumored to introduce her to other, more suitable men. "I knew the separation would change nothing; when Lilibet gives her love, she gives it once and for all," said Crawford. "From South Africa, she wrote to him constantly. And throughout the trip, she put Philip's photograph on her dressing table."
4. The wedding was the first royal festivity since the end of World War II. The bride famously saved up her ration cards in order to purchase a wedding gown. The King was warned that "any banqueting and display at your daughter's wedding will be an insult to the British people at the present time… and we would consider that you would be well advised to order a very quiet wedding in keeping with the times," according to Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 by David Kynaston.
5. Noticeably missing from the wedding: The bride's uncle, the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne in order to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson. The pair had been exiled to Paris because "a king and former king living in the same country would had resulted in two rival courts," according to Vanity Fair. Also missing: Philip's German relatives, including his three sisters, were not welcome in post-war Britain.
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6. The King led a conga line through the staterooms of the palace during the celebratory ball.
7. The couple keeps separate bedrooms at their home in Clarence House. "In England, the upper class always have separate bedrooms," their cousin Lady Pamela Hicks (née Mountbatten) explained. "You don't want to be bothered with snoring or someone flinging a leg around. Then when you are feeling cozy, you can share your room sometimes. It is lovely to be able to choose."
8. The marriage was truly a union based on love. In a letter to her parents soon after the marriage, Elizabeth wrote: "I only hope that I can bring up my children in the happy atmosphere of love and fairness which Margaret and I have grown up in," she wrote, adding that she and Philip "behave as though we had belonged to each other for years! Philip is an angel-he is so kind and thoughtful." Philip wrote, "Cherish Lilibet? I wonder if that word is enough to express what is in me." He remarked that she was "the only 'thing' in this world which is absolutely real to me, and my ambition is to weld the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us but will also have a positive existence for the good."
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9. Prince Philip resented the fact that his children would not bear his last name. "I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children," he reportedly griped. After the death of Queen Mary and the resignation of Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II requested a change to honor her husband. The compromise: the royal family would continue as the House of Windsor, but "de-royalized" descendants (beginning with their grandchildren who lacked royal titles) would use Mountbatten-Windsor as their surname. However, Princess Anne, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, also adopted Mountbatten-Windsor before marriage.
10. On her husband, Queen Elizabeth II has said: "He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments. But he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I and his whole family, in this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know."See 10 more surprising facts here!
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