Everyone at Acorn Stairlifts today joins with the nation in wishing a very happy 70th wedding anniversary to our much-loved Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
The Royal couple were married at Westminster Abbey on Thursday November 20th, 1947, and have since become the firm foundation of the modern Royal Family, being parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
Their wedding brought a cause for celebration to a nation still recovering from the hardships and sorrows of the Second World War. Princess Elizabeth, as she then was, needed ration coupons to buy the material for her wedding gown, designed by Norman Hartnell.
She and her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, first met at another wedding in 1934 and – as with most European royal houses – were distantly related, being second cousins once removed. They met again in 1939, at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where Philip was now a dashing young naval cadet. His family had been banished from Greece at the end of the Greco-Turkish War in 1922, when Philip was just a baby, and he had lived in France and England.
Although only 13, Princess Elizabeth fell in love and began exchanging letters with Philip, who was almost five years her senior. He served with distinction in the Royal Navy throughout the war and in 1946 he and Princess Elizabeth became engaged after he asked her father, King George VI, for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The King agreed, but on condition that the engagement was kept secret until after his daughter’s 21st birthday, the following April. It was officially announced on July 9th, 1947.
In line with royal protocol, Philip gave up his Greek and Danish titles before the marriage and became Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, taking the surname of his mother’s British family. He was given the formal title “His Royal Highness” the day before the wedding and on the morning of his wedding day was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.
Though largely ceremonial, the granting of these titles was an important step in establishing Philip as an English gentleman. Not everyone had initially been in favour of the marriage, as Philip was a prince in name only, without a home or a kingdom and of no significant financial standing. He also had sisters who had married German noblemen and, despite his exemplary war service, some still questioned his family links with Germany. None of his German relations, including three surviving sisters, were invited to the wedding as it would not have been acceptable so soon after the war.
But these concerns were forgotten by the time the big day dawned, and the nation relished the opportunity to celebrate a royal wedding. The Princess, looking radiant, was attended by eight bridesmaids, including her younger sister Margaret, and two page boys. A procession of horse-drawn carriages brought the royal parties to the Abbey, Princess Elizabeth arriving with her father, King George, to the cheers of large crowds gathered outside. Prince Phillip arrived in full dress uniform, accompanied by the best man, his cousin and fellow naval officer David Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York officiated at the ceremony, which was broadcast by BBC Radio to 200 million people around the world. The newly-married couple then emerged from Westminster Abbey to the strains of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, which was quickly drowned out by huge cheers from the waiting crowds.
The cheering continued throughout their journey to Buckingham Palace, where the wedding breakfast was held. The couple received more than 2,500 wedding presents from around the world and more than 10,000 congratulatory telegrams. They spent their honeymoon in Hampshire, at the home of Philip’s uncle, Earl Mountbatten.
In the seven decades since their marriage, the couple have become the bedrock of the British Royal Family. It has not always been plain sailing and the Queen has often spoken of the invaluable support from her husband seeing her through testing times. Never more so than when she ascended to the throne in 1952 on the sudden and unexpected death of her father.
Generations of Britons have grown up with Queen Elizabeth on the throne and Prince Philip ever at her side. As they celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary today we join in wishing them many more happy years together.