Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's Relationship: A Look Back

·16 min read
Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth
Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth

Countess of Wessex Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip had one of the most enduring royal romances of all time.

"She fell in love at age 18 and she never looked at anyone else," Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen, told PEOPLE.

As depicted on Netflix's smash The Crown, Elizabeth fought to marry Philip against some opposition from others in The Firm.

"Some were very concerned. The line was slightly tenuous at that point," the late Sir Edward Ford, who previously served as an assistant royal secretary, told PEOPLE. "So, it was only natural that the older generation — friends of the King like Lord Salisbury — were concerned that who the Queen was with was totally and utterly suitable. So they were sniffing around to see what he was like."

Perhaps part of what attracted the Queen to Philip was that he didn't try too hard to impress others, Ford noted.

"He was a perfectly natural young sailor and very much in love with the girl of the house," Ford said. "But he would not in any way fawn on the elders and say, 'What a suitable husband I am going to be.' He was very much his own man."

The couple were married for 73 years until Philip's death in April 2021 at 99 years old. Queen Elizabeth died at age 96 on Sept. 8, 2022, and remained devoted to her husband's memory until the very end.

Look back at their love story that began when they were teenagers and lasted the rest of their lives.

1934: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip meet for the first time

Then-Princess Elizabeth met Prince Philip in 1934 when he was 13 years old and she was just 8 years old. The run-in happened at a wedding.

July 1939: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip meet again — and she falls in love

Princess Elizabeth and Phillip
Princess Elizabeth and Phillip

API/Gamma-Rapho

Five years after their first meeting, a 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, then 18, met again with King George VI, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in Devon. Elizabeth would later say that this was when she fell in love with Philip, and the pair began exchanging letters regularly. She reportedly "never had eyes for anyone else" from that moment forward.

October 1946: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip spark romance rumors

Though Elizabeth was long smitten with Philip privately, it wasn't until the October 1946 wedding of their mutual cousin, Lady Patricia Mountbatten, that tongues began to wag publicly about a potential romance between them. Elizabeth and Philip each served as members of the bridal party, and a photographer snapped a picture of the pair locking eyes.

July 9, 1947: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip announce their engagement

Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and her fiance, Philip Mountbatten at Buckingham Palace, after their engagement was announced, 10th July 1947
Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and her fiance, Philip Mountbatten at Buckingham Palace, after their engagement was announced, 10th July 1947

Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty

Philip reportedly asked King George VI for Elizabeth's hand in marriage in the summer of 1946. The couple delayed their making their betrothal public until after the princess turned 21 years old.

Philip and Elizabeth announced their engagement on July 9, 1947.

July 1947: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip cut a rug together

The same month that they announced their engagement, Philip and Elizabeth also shared their first dance at a public event. The pair were photographed waltzing at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, Scotland.

October 3, 1947: Prince Philip is baptized in the Church of England

Philip renounced his Danish and Greek royal titles ahead of his marriage to Elizabeth, and there was another step he had to take before their wedding: becoming a member of the Church of England. The New York Times reported that Philip had been baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Archbishop of Canterbury fully received Philip, who regarded himself as an Anglican for years, into the Church of England on Oct. 3, 1947.

November 20, 1947: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip wed

Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II with her husband Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, on their wedding day, 20th November 1947
Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II with her husband Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, on their wedding day, 20th November 1947

Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip married on Nov. 20, 1947. The ceremony, held at Westminster Abbey in London, had 2,500 guests. Lady Pamela Hicks, who served as a bridesmaid for the nuptials, later said of the pair, "I can think of very few couples as united as they are."

November 1947: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip enjoy their honeymoon

Princess Elizabeth and The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh enjoying a walk during their honeymoon at Broadlands, Romsey, Hampshire
Princess Elizabeth and The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh enjoying a walk during their honeymoon at Broadlands, Romsey, Hampshire

Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty

Relishing in newlywed bliss, Elizabeth and Philip enjoyed a honeymoon at the Broadlands in Hampshire, England, which was the home of Philip's uncle, Earl Mountbatten. The couple released several photos walking arm-in-arm and beaming at one another.

November 14, 1948: Prince Charles is born

The Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Elizabeth with their son Prince Charles after his Christening ceremony
The Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Elizabeth with their son Prince Charles after his Christening ceremony

PA Images

Elizabeth and Philip welcomed their first child and eventual heir to the throne, Prince Charles, on Nov. 14, 1948. Elizabeth gave birth to the future king in Buckingham Palace in London at 9:14 p.m. local time.

1949: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip move to Malta

Philip's naval career took the newlyweds to Malta in 1949. Princess Elizabeth and Philip lived in Villa Guardamangia near the capital Valetta until 1951. According to Tatler, Elizabeth enjoyed living as a "regular" naval wife during their brief time in the country.

August 15, 1950: Princess Anne is born

Princess Elizabeth and The Duke Of Edinburgh holding their baby daughter Princess Anne
Princess Elizabeth and The Duke Of Edinburgh holding their baby daughter Princess Anne

Fox Photos/Getty

Philip and Elizabeth welcomed their second child and only daughter, Princess Anne, on Aug. 15, 1950. Princess Anne, whose official title was Princess Royal, would go on to become an accomplished equestrian and be the only British royal (so far!) to ever compete in the Olympics.

August 1951: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip pose with their kids outside their new home

Royal Family Picnicking at Balmoral
Royal Family Picnicking at Balmoral

Bettmann

After moving from Malta back to the United Kingdom, Elizabeth, Philip and their two young children — Prince Charles, then almost 3 years old and one-year-old Princess Anne — enjoyed the grounds outside of their Clarence House home.

February 6, 1952: Elizabeth becomes Queen

When King George VI died on Feb. 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth, then 25, became Queen Elizabeth II. At the time of King George VI's death, Elizabeth and Philip were on a safari trip in Kenya.

Philip's title did not change, as he was not named King Consort, but he left his military career to support Elizabeth. The new Queen, Philip and their children moved from Clarence House to Buckingham Palace.

Prince William later said of Philip leaving his navy days behind him, "One of the things I do really admire him for is the fact that he gave up a very, very successful military career to be the Queen's consort and support her and go into service and duty in a different way. It was very much a man's world back then. So for a man to give up his career to support a woman, albeit the Queen, was still quite a big step."

June 2, 1953: Queen Elizabeth is honored with her coronation ceremony

The coronation of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey. London. Queen Elizabeth II. with the Duke of Edinburgh. at Buckingham Palace shortly after their return from Westminster Abbey
The coronation of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey. London. Queen Elizabeth II. with the Duke of Edinburgh. at Buckingham Palace shortly after their return from Westminster Abbey

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group

Queen Elizabeth II was officially coronated at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, more than a year after she took the throne. After the Archbishop of Canterbury, Philip was the first to kneel in honor of the new monarch, pledging to be her "liegeman" for life. More than 8,000 people attended her coronation, including Prime Minister Winston Churchill and then-4-year-old Prince Charles.

Even more people watched the ceremony at home, as Queen Elizabeth's coronation was the first to ever be televised: 27 million U.K. residents watched the coronation on TV and another 11 million tuned in to listen to it on the radio. Three million Britons lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the new Queen during her parade.

She said in her coronation speech, "The ceremonies you have seen today are ancient, and some of their origins are veiled in the mists of the past. But their spirit and their meaning shine through the ages never, perhaps, more brightly than now. I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust."

February 1960: Queen Elizabeth announces her descendants' new surnames

Breaking somewhat from royal tradition, Queen Elizabeth announced in early February 1960 — shortly before the birth of Prince Andrew — that her descendants would have the surname "Mountbatten-Windsor." The name is a combination of her and Prince Philip's surnames.

February 19, 1960: Prince Andrew is born

Baby Prince Andrew perches on Prince Philip's lap during a picnic on the grounds of Balmoral Castle. Looking on are Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne.
Baby Prince Andrew perches on Prince Philip's lap during a picnic on the grounds of Balmoral Castle. Looking on are Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne.

Bettmann

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip welcomed their third child and second son, Prince Andrew, on Feb. 19, 1960.

June 5, 1961: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip host President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy pay a visit to the royal family in England. (L-R): John F. Kennedy; Queen Elizabeth II; Jackie Kennedy, and Prince Philip.
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy pay a visit to the royal family in England. (L-R): John F. Kennedy; Queen Elizabeth II; Jackie Kennedy, and Prince Philip.

Bettmann

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip held court with then-President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy on June 5, 1961. The meeting would later be depicted on Netflix's The Crown.

March 10, 1964: Prince Edward is born — and Prince Philip makes history

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward waving to the crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, during the Trooping of the Colour
Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward waving to the crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, during the Trooping of the Colour

Fox Photos/Getty

On March 10, 1964, Queen Elizabeth and Philip welcomed their youngest child, Prince Edward — and majorly broke what had previously been royal protocol. Royal biographer Ingrid Seward wrote in My Husband And I: 70 Years of the Royal Marriage that Philip was the first royal father to be present for the birth of one of his children and held the Queen's hand throughout the delivery.

November 20, 1972: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrate their 25th anniversary

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit a farm on the Balmoral estate in Scotland, during their Silver Wedding anniversary year, September 1972
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit a farm on the Balmoral estate in Scotland, during their Silver Wedding anniversary year, September 1972

Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty

On Nov. 20, 1972, Queen Elizabeth marked her 25th wedding anniversary to Prince Philip with a memorable speech. "If I am asked what I think about family life after 25 years of marriage," she said, "I can answer with equal simplicity and conviction, I am for it."

November 15, 1977: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip become grandparents for the first time

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth became first-time grandparents on Nov. 15, 1977, when Princess Anne and her husband, Mark Phillips, welcomed their first child, Peter Mark Andrew Phillips. Princess Anne and Mark declined to give their children royal titles.

November 20, 1997: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip mark 50 years of marriage

The Queen And Prince Philip Review The King's Troop At A Special Parade To Mark Their Jubilee In Regent's Park
The Queen And Prince Philip Review The King's Troop At A Special Parade To Mark Their Jubilee In Regent's Park

Tim Graham Photo Library

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in November 1997. In her speech celebrating their golden anniversary, the Queen described their relationship as that of a "working couple" and expressed appreciation for Philip's "constant love and support" during her reign.

"He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments," she said. "But he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know."

June 2002: Queen Elizabeth marks her Golden Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh leave St. Paul's Cathedral after a service to celebrate the Golden Jubilee in this June 4, 2002 file photo in London, England
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh leave St. Paul's Cathedral after a service to celebrate the Golden Jubilee in this June 4, 2002 file photo in London, England

Anwar Hussein/Getty

Philip stayed close to Queen Elizabeth as she celebrated 50 years on the throne during her Golden Jubilee weekend. Festivities began June 1, 2002, and concluded three days later. She said in part during a speech commemorating the occasion, "The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past 50 years."

November 20, 2007: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrate their diamond anniversary

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Tim Graham/Getty Images Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth

Nov. 20, 2007, marked Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth's 60th wedding anniversary. The couple marked the occasion with a ceremony at Westminster Abbey. They'd also visit the Broadlands, where they celebrated their honeymoon, to commemorate the milestone.

August 2, 2017: Prince Philip retires from public life

Prince Philip announced in May 2017 that he would retire from public life, and he attended his final royal engagement on Aug. 2, 2017.

"The Duke of Edinburgh will no longer undertake his own program of public engagements," a statement from Buckingham Palace said at the time. "The Captain General's Parade will bring His Royal Highness's individual program to a conclusion, although he may choose to attend certain events, alongside The Queen, from time to time."

June 10, 2020: Prince Philip celebrates his 99th birthday with Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured 1/6/2020 in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured 1/6/2020 in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th

Steve Parsons/PA Images

Queen Elizabeth helped Prince Philip celebrate his 99th birthday on June 10, 2020. The couple, whose marriage was the longest royal union ever, posed for photos together.

November 20, 2020: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on Nov. 20, 2020. In a photo released to honor the event, the couple opened a homemade card from Prince William and Kate Middleton's children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

April 9, 2021: Prince Philip dies at age 99

Prince Philip died on April 9, 2021. He was 99 years old. That February, he'd been hospitalized for 28 days for infection and treatment of a pre-existing cardiac condition.

While there was some speculation at the time that the Queen would step down following Philip's passing, a senior palace aide told PEOPLE it would never happen.

"Her family will step up and be by her side, but she will carry on. She understands that she has a job to do, and [Philip] would have wanted her to crack on. She did do so when he retired from public life," the aide said. "She will never abdicate because of duty and honor and public service is so deep in her, as it was for him."

April 17, 2021: Queen Elizabeth sits alone at Prince Philip's funeral

Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England
Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England

Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty

While most of the royal family was in attendance at Prince Philip's funeral on April 17, 2021, in a heartbreaking display of grief, Queen Elizabeth sat alone in her pew during the services at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.

Queen Elizabeth left a handwritten note on Philip's casket signed with her childhood nickname "Lilibet."

The Queen's personal stylist, Angela Kelly, said that after the mass, she witnessed a moving moment with the monarch.

"I helped her off with her coat and hat and no words were spoken," Kelly recalled in her book The Other Side of the Coin, The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe. "The Queen then walked to her sitting room, closed the door behind her, and she was alone with her own thoughts."

September 21, 2021: Prince Harry says Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth were "adorable" together

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arriving at the Manoel Theatre in Valleta, Malta, 1967
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arriving at the Manoel Theatre in Valleta, Malta, 1967

Fox Photos/Getty

In a sweet moment from the BBC documentary Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, Prince Harry said he missed his grandfather's sense of humor, adding, "I miss him more for my grandmother because I know how incredibly strong she was with him there. I also know she will be okay without him."

The Duke of Sussex added, "The two of them together were just the most adorable couple. To me, knowing the cheekiness of him and knowing that behind what the world sees you have two individuals who were very much in love and both, from a very young age, have dedicated their life to service — that is an incredible bond between two people."

October 2, 2021: Queen Elizabeth speaks about Prince Philip publicly for the first time since his death

In her first public speech about Prince Philip following his death, Queen Elizabeth reminisced about the good times they shared together in Scotland.

"I have spoken before of my deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country, and of the many happy memories Prince Philip and I always held of our time here," the Queen said during her opening address for Scotland's Parliament on Oct. 2, 2021. "It is often said that it is the people that make a place, and there are few places where this is truer than in Scotland, as we have seen in recent times."

November 1, 2021: Queen Elizabeth pays tribute to Prince Philip in COP26 speech

In a video address to the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference on Nov. 1, 2021, Queen Elizabeth urged the world to take action to combat climate change.

"The impact of the environment on human progress was a subject close to the heart of my dear late husband," she said, seated next to a photo of the late Philip. Recalling one of Philip's own speeches on the topic, the Queen added, "It is a source of great pride to me that the leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet lives on through the work of our eldest son, Charles, and his eldest son, William. I could not be more proud of them."

December 25, 2021: Queen Elizabeth honors the late Prince Philip in Christmas address

A family watch as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II delivers her annual Christmas Broadcast message, at their home near Liverpool on December 25, 2021
A family watch as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II delivers her annual Christmas Broadcast message, at their home near Liverpool on December 25, 2021

PAUL ELLIS/AFP

Christmas 2021 was the first that the Queen had spent apart from Prince Philip since 1956. In her annual Christmas speech, Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to her late husband of 73 years. Noting that the holidays can be a sad time for some, she said in her address, "But for me, in the months since the death of my beloved Philip, I have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work – from around the country, the Commonwealth and the world. His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation – were all irrepressible. That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him."

She concluded, "But life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings; and as much as I and my family miss him, I know he would want us to enjoy Christmas."

February 5, 2022: Queen Elizabeth uses Prince Philip's cane

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves Sandringham House, the Queen's Norfolk residence, after a reception with representatives from local community groups to celebrate the start of the Platinum Jubilee on February 5, 2022.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves Sandringham House, the Queen's Norfolk residence, after a reception with representatives from local community groups to celebrate the start of the Platinum Jubilee on February 5, 2022.

Joe Giddens/POOL/AFP via Getty Queen Elizabeth carrying her bag and her walking stick

Queen Elizabeth canceled several public events in 2022 as her own health began to decline, but the first quarter of the year saw her as vibrant as ever, save for some issues with her mobility. On Feb. 5, 2022, the eve of her Accession Day, Queen Elizabeth used Prince Philip's cane. He had last been seen using this particular walking stick publicly in 2013.

April 9, 2022: Queen Elizabeth pays tribute to Prince Philip on the first anniversary of his death

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive at St Paul's Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving held in honour of the Queen's 80th birthday, June 15, 2006 in London, England
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive at St Paul's Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving held in honour of the Queen's 80th birthday, June 15, 2006 in London, England

Tim Graham Photo Library Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

A year after the death of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, via the official British royal family Twitter account, paid tribute to her late husband with a video montage of sweet moments. The video was sent to the poem "The Patriarchs — An Elegy" by the British poet laureate Simon Armitage. A caption of the video read, "Remembering His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh on the first anniversary of his death."

September 8, 2022: Queen Elizabeth dies at age 96

Queen Elizabeth "died peacefully at Balmoral" on Sept. 8, 2022. She was 96. Her final resting place will be at St. George's Chapel within the walls of Windsor Castle, where she'll be buried next to Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years.

As the Queen is laid to rest, Prince Philip will be moved from the Royal Vault beneath the chapel, where he was temporarily interred, and put beside his wife, according to The Telegraph.

September 19, 2022: Queen Elizabeth laid to rest beside Prince Philip

During a private burial at King George VI Memorial Chapel, Queen Elizabeth was laid to rest beside her late husband, Prince Philip. This is also the final resting place of her father, King George VI, her mother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and her sister, Princess Margaret.