An emergency meeting has been called at Buckingham Palace, leading to speculation that Prince Philip has died.
So far, there has been no confirmation of this. But as the world thinks about the sad possibility of losing Prince Philip, millions everywhere are more curious than ever about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. How did these two originally come to be aquatinted?
It happened in July 1939, when Elizabeth was 13 and Philip was 18. King George VI paid a visit to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and he took his daughters along with him. Philip, a young cadet, was assigned with entertaining the king’s daughters.
In 2011, The Daily Mail actually published a rare photo of Elizabeth and Philip from this meeting; in the photo, they are seen playing croquet.
“I was 13 years of age and he was 18 and a cadet just due to leave,” Queen Elizabeth wrote of this meeting in a rare letter obtained in 2016, according to The Mirror. “He joined the Navy at the outbreak of war, and I only saw him very occasionally when he was on leave – I suppose about twice in three years.”
According to Vanity Fair, Philip was invited to have lunch and tea with the royal family during this visit, and sparks began to fly. Queen Elizabeth’s governess would later recall that Elizabeth “never took her eyes off him,” although Philip “did not pay her any special attention.”
Technically, Elizabeth and Philip had met before this: at a wedding in 1934 and at the coronation of King George VI in 1937. But it wasn’t until the visit to Dartmouth in 1939 that they really became acquainted and made an impression on one another.
In the rare letter obtained in 2016, Queen Elizabeth writes that when Philip’s uncle and aunt were away, Philip spent “various weekends away with us at Windsor,” and then he went off to war for two years.
Throughout the 1940s, Elizabeth and Philip consciously tried to avoid being seen together; according to The Telegraph, “if they were in the same party, [they] took the precaution of not dancing with each other. But behind the scenes, the courtship was entering a new and bolder phase.”
In 1946, Philip asked King George VI for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, and he agreed, although he wanted them to wait until Elizabeth turned 21. The engagement was finally announced on July 10th, 1947, and the wedding took place on November 20th, 1947.