History of a Royal Romance
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh recently celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. This is an increasingly rare feat for any couple but it’s a first in the history of the British Royal Family, and that’s not the only record the pair have set.
Since then they’ve travelled all over the world together, sometimes via private plane, often commercially, and some of those trips and family vacations must have had a profound impact on their long standing relationship. Those journeys are what we’ll be having a look at, who knows, perhaps the secret to romantic success is about making the right memories in the right place.
They were married in November 1947 at Westminster Abbey when Elizabeth was only 21, though reports have her first meeting and falling in love with the rugged Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark when she was only 13 years old. Initially, her mother (also Elizabeth) disapproved, calling Philip “The Hun” however, her father King George VI gave his consent, provided the engagement remained a secret until a time closer to when a wedding would be possible.
As with any marriage, they’ve faced some challenges but arguably fewer than most. There are some major milestones in their relationship which may have helped to provide the strong foundation that’s seen them through these challenges. Let’s take a look at some of them and the royal couple’s travels abroad.
Republic of Malta
The earliest years of their marriage were spent on the small island nation of Malta, in the Mediterranean. As a naval officer, Prince Philip served aboard the destroyer H.M.S. Chequers, which was based in Malta, and was then still part of the UK. Elizabeth was determined to spend as much of her time as possible with her new husband, so she left the infant Prince Charles to the expert care of his nannies and grandparents in London, and set off for Gwardamanġa.
Pictured together dancing at the Union Club Sliema in Malta in 1950, with 3 years of marriage under their belts, the pair still look as head over heels in love as ever. The pair stayed in Malta from 1949-1951 with Elizabeth making trips back to the UK to see her son when she could. The then Princess couldn’t bring him with her at the time due to her receiving advisement that Malta wasn’t safe enough for the infant. Princess Anne was conceived during this happy period.
The royal family often attends the annual Braemar Gathering (known locally as The Gathering) in the otherwise sleepy settlement of Braemar, with a population of around just 1000 people. The Gathering is largely a fun-focused athletic event which features sprinters, pipers, dancers and even tug of war contests.
Here we have the young couple with the Queen’s family attending the games in 1954. The roguish and beloved Philip towers over her relatives, looking relaxed and quite content. The young Elizabeth seems to radiate happiness while sitting opposite her mother. Although they faced time apart and the challenges of their growing global celebrity, these were indeed glorious early years of marriage.
Queen Victoria described the estate as "my dear paradise in the Highlands" and Queen Elizabeth II seems no less fond of it. She’s stated that she will make it her official second home when the Duke of Edinburgh passes away. It’s been in the family since its purchase by then Prince Albert in 1852 for the future Queen Victoria.
A rare image of the royal family during their 1955 retreat to Balmoral Castle which shows the young couple playing with their first two children (Prince Charles and Princess Anne). The Duke has carefully stacked his royal children one atop the other while the Queen looks on, perhaps somewhat cautiously.
This much needed family time came after long periods of separation during 1954, so we imagine that their weeks spent here must have meant a lot. This represents a far cry from their typical days spent meeting and greeting hundreds of foreign officials and attending garden parties. At one such event the Duke (now Prince of the realm) said to his wife “Don’t look so sad, Sausage”, the unusual term of endearment used to cheer her up.
By 1970, the royal couple didn’t have to worry too much about having to entertain young children, leaving them with more freedom to pursue their own interests. Pictured here, the couple pursue what may be amongst the last of their truly private moments. Times were changing since the 1969 release of the BBC’s ‘Royal Family’ documentary film. The media was becoming more aggressive and the term ‘Paparazzi’ became of common use in the late 60’s.
Still, here we see the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh enjoying the quiet solitude of a classic African Safari.
Of course the royal pair have been on dozens more journeys together over their nearly 70 years of married life and the Queen herself has made hundreds of foreign trips for business and pleasure, but we’ve tried to highlight some of their more memorable adventures together. Prince Philip has been noted as saying that the secret to a successful marriage is to have different interests – and considering the success of their own partnership, who can argue with possibly the foremost marriage experts?