One of the most amazing marriages of modern times is 66 years old today - so congratulations to the Queen and Prince Philip, who were married in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947.
Philip - on whom the Queen remains utterly dependent - overcame an extraordinary childhood to become the longest serving British Royal consort, and first met the Queen when she was just 13.He born Prince Philippos Prince of Greece and Denmark on the Greek Island of Corfu in 1921. Philip was mocked at prep school for having no surname, and only ever known as “Philip of Greece.” (He took the last name Mountbatten when he became a naturalized British citizen before marrying Elizabeth).Philip’s father, Andrew, was the brother of the King of Greece, and his mother, Alice Battenberg, was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.In December 1922, Philip’s parents were compelled to leave Greece in a hurry after his uncle was deposed as king, and Philip, then only one year old, was smuggled out of the country in a crib made out of an orange crate.Philip’s father subsequently spent most of the rest of his life living a playboy lifestyle in the south of France, but his mother was committed to a mental institution in Germany in 1930. Alice was “diagnosed” with a “neurotic-pre-psychotic libidinous condition” and on the recommendation of Sigmund Freud, was subjected to an exposure of the gonads to X-rays, in order to accelerate menopause.
Princess Elizabeth and Philip first met when they attended the wedding of Philip's cousin, Princess Marina of Greece to The Duke of Kent, who was an uncle of Princess Elizabeth, in 1934. Things stepped up a gear when he made a visit to Buckingham Palace in 1939. He was 18 and Elizabeth was 13. The future Queen’s governess described how, while they were playing with a clockwork railway, Philip came into the room—and everything changed.“For a while they knelt side by side playing with the trains. He soon got bored with that,” Pricness Elizabeth’s governess said. “We had ginger crackers and lemonade in which he joined and then he said, ‘Let’s go to the tennis courts and have some real fun jumping over the nets!’ At the tennis courts I thought he showed off a little too much. Lilibet said, ‘How good he is! How high he can jump!’ He spent a lot of time teasing plump little Margaret.”Later that evening, when Philip went for dinner with the King, Elizabeth had already been sent to bed, according to the nursery schedule.
In 1947, to pave the way for marriage to Elizabeth, he became a naturalized British subject, and adopted the surname Mountbatten, the Anglicized version of his mother’s name, Battenberg. He converted from Greek Orthodox to the Anglican religion, and renounced his allegiance to the Greek crown.The engagement between Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN was announced on the July 9, 1947 and they were married in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. The day before his wedding, King George VI titled his future son-in-law Philip Duke of Edinburgh.One of the big surprises of a wide ranging Mori poll undertaken recently was the surge in Prince Philip’s popularity – a decade ago just 5% of the population named him as one of their favorite members of the Firm, today, it’s 11%.
Now doubt much of this is due to his plain-speaking jokes: the Duke once told a one-legged man he could 'smuggle a bottle of gin out of the country in that artificial foot'; asked a Samaritans volunteer if he had ever attempted suicide; and said an exhibition of Ethiopian art looked like 'the kind of thing my daughter would bring back from school art lessons''.
Well, they do say a sense of humor is the key to a good marriage!