The Epic, Feminist Love Story Of Queen Elizabeth And Prince Philip

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Queen Elizabeth & Her Prince: What Their 73 Years Together Tells You About How To Make A Relationship Last."
Love

Her Majesty the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, the Duke Of Edinburgh, died Friday, April 9 at home and will be laid to rest on Saturday, April 17 St George's Chapel, in the grounds of Windsor Castle. He was 99 years old and had been with the queen for well over 70 years. While their marriage was one of duty and privilege — it was also a timeless story of love, respect, and support.

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In a statement on all their social media accounts, the royal family posted:

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”

The prince's life is defined by decades of love

While the prince retired from royal duty in 2017, he had spent many decades at the Queen’s side, supporting her in her work, and many knew that behind the scenes, while she was the head of the country, he was the patriarch of their large extended family.

The Queen and Prince Philip met when she was still a young girl in 1934 at the wedding of their mutual cousin (yes, they were distant cousins!).  It was a brief meeting and nothing much to speak of, but they were to meet again in 1939 during a royal family visit to his naval college — he was tasked to the role of playing escort to the young princess! The princess was instantly smitten, of course.

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While the couple quietly kept in touch for years, it wasn’t until 1946 that they got engaged. They did so secretly, because the then-princess’s father, King George VI, did not want his daughter to get married before she was 21. This was the beginning of the great story of their mutual love and support for one another, as the prince waited for his princess. 

Prince Philip then renounced all his royal Greek and Danish titles and became a commoner so he could marry his British princess without political conflict. Then, in 1947, Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten, and her father, the king, made them the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

A year later, Prince Charles was born, and soon after that, Princess Anne. Their family was taking shape just as Prince Philip had to sacrifice for his wife another time. The king’s health was failing, so Philip took leave from the career he loved in the Navy in order to help the future Queen take on some of her father’s royal duties.

Not long after, in February of 1952, King George VI died in his sleep. It was Philip that was woken up in the dead of night and given the task of telling his wife that her father had died, and she was now Queen Elizabeth II.

When everything changed

This was the point where their relationship took a meaningful turn. As Queen, and Philip her Prince Consort, he was ranked beneath her in all matters, and actually walked a step behind her at public events. It was difficult as a take-charge born leader to submit to a supporting role, but he did it for his Queen. But behind closed doors, he was the head of their family. It was a tough transition for them because, as she was the Queen, the children could not even take their father’s surname. But, again, he sacrificed for the Queen.

In the years that followed, they had two more children, for a total of three sons and one daughter, and a whole lot of Corgis. Philip and the Queen went on to have eight grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. 

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In June of 2002, the Queen celebrated 50 years on the throne. At the celebration, she was quoted saying: "I take this opportunity to mention the strength I draw from my own family,” she said. “The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past fifty years, as he has to so many charities and organisations with which he has been involved."

The couple's legacy of love was supported by Prince Philip's feminism

Philip retired from official public duty at the age of 96, after seven decades in the service and more than 22,000 appearances, over 630 solo overseas trips and 5,400 speeches in support of his wife and country, both as part of the  military and as the queen’s husband. 

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Their amazing long-standing love and support for one another is a powerful example of how to make a relationship work, and how to continue to sacrifice for the future, even under the most stressful and trying circumstances.

Royal expert and historian Dr. Amanda Foreman delivered a touching tribute to Prince Philip explaining that the Duke of Edinburgh's feminist behaviours that would be his greatest legacy: 

"He was the first spouse, as it were, he was the longest-serving consort in history - 72 years and he set the agenda for how husbands can support their much more famous and much more powerful waves. I think that is his greatest legacy is that he has shown in modern times how a successful partnership can be."

Philip, by all accounts was a very masculine man, and he gladly gave up his own career and aspirations in support of a woman. He did it out of love, and also duty. 

And all the time he was a great supporter of the queen. The royal pair was a pivotal example of, lasting love, self-sacrifice, and devotion above all else.

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Because in the end, as long as you have each other to count on, then nothing else really matters — and it’s a beautiful life, indeed.

RIP Prince Philip, and God Save The Queen!

Aly Walansky is a lifestyles journalist and pop culture expert with two decades of experience covering food, travel, and the history of the royal family. Reach her at alywalansky@gmail.com