From their courtship to their royal wedding and their almost 74-year marriage, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s love story spanned decades and garnered public interest.
Buckingham Palace announced Thursday that the queen died at Balmoral Castle. She was 96. The monarch, born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, was under medical supervision Thursday as doctors were “concerned for Her Majesty’s health.”
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the palace tweeted. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
The queen’s death comes nearly a year-and-a-half after the Duke of Edinburgh died in April 2021 at the age of 99.
British historians and commentators often say Philip was one of the keys to the queen’s enduring success as a monarch. The queen famously described him as her “strength and stay” at the couple’s golden wedding anniversary in 1997.
“He is someone who doesn’t take compliments easily, but he has quite simply been my strength and stayed all these years,” she said in her speech.
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How Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip met
The couple’s foundation had humble beginnings as a young budding romance when they met when the queen was 13. Philip uncle, the ambitious Lord Louis “Dickie” Mountbatten, was close to the royal family and sought to introduce his handsome, dashing nephew to then- Princess Elizabeth, the future queen. Elizabeth never looked at another man, biographers of both say.
The royal wedding
After eight years of courting then-Princess Elizabeth and Royal Navy Lt. Philip Mountbatten got engaged in July 1947. Four months later, they married in a royal ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947, a day they would go on to celebrate for more than 70 years.
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Although there was an initial flurry of disapproval that Elizabeth was marrying a foreigner, Philip’s athletic skills, good looks and straight talk lent a distinct glamor to the royal family. Elizabeth beamed in his presence, and they had a son and daughter while she was still free from the obligations of serving as monarch.
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Together the couple shared four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Their children are Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales; Prince Andrew, the Duke of York; Princess Anne and Prince Edward Earl of Wessex. Andrew and Edward were born after Elizabeth took the throne.
Philip became Elizabeth’s stalwart companion, although he gave up many things, including part of his identity and religion, to have her hand in marriage. Philip, born on the Greek island of Corfu, renounced his Greek citizenship and church and became British, Anglican and a royal duke after the two tied the knot.
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It wasn’t until 1952 when his wife became the queen of a nation, almost five years after they married. The queen’s father, King George VI, died at only 56, dramatically changing the lives of the young couple. Elizabeth was jolted to the throne, becoming the monarch and head-of-state at 27. Phillip, also thrust into new roles, left behind his beloved naval career and took on the job of supporting her, raising their family, managing her palaces and always walking a few paces behind her in public.
Philip Eade, one of the prince’s biographers, wrote in The Telegraph that “a great deal of the credit for her achievement as probably the finest constitutional monarch in British history should go to her husband, Britain’s longest-serving royal consort.”
“Within the house, and whatever we did, it was together,” Philip told biographer Basil Boothroyd of the years before Elizabeth became queen. “People used to come to me and ask me what to do. In 1952, the whole thing changed, very, very considerably.”
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How Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II celebrated their love and anniversaries through the years
To mark each year of their union, Buckingham Palace has celebrated with the public by sharing snapshots of their romance behind palace doors, releasing stamps, or commemorating with celebrations.
“I don’t know that anyone had invented the term platinum for a 70th wedding anniversary when I was born. You weren’t expected to be around that long,” the queen said in her 2017 Christmas speech of their recent anniversary mark.
In honor of their most recent 73rd anniversary, the longtime couple received a homemade card from their grandchildren Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. Buckingham Palace released a special picture of the queen and Philip, opening the card with smiles across their faces.
More:Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip celebrate 73rd anniversary with sweet card from great-grandchildren
The TV depiction of their royal relationship on ‘The Crown’
The royal couple’s TV depiction painted a slightly more complex picture.
In the beginning seasons of the Netflix series “The Crown,” the royal union appears stricken with power dynamics and allusions to potential infidelity. Seasons 1 and 2 depict the personal struggles of Prince Philip as the queen rose to the duties of her crown.
In later seasons of “The Crown,” Philip is portrayed as a softer man. The series credits him with helping modernize the monarchy, suggesting he was crucial to Elizabeth’s success as a monarch even if it took him significant time and effort to accept his role as a subordinate.
More:Prince Philip’s legacy will live on in Netflix’s ‘The Crown’
In real life, it is noted that Philip gave an estimated 5,000 speeches, according to Buckingham Palace, and carried out about 32,000 solo engagements between 1952 and 2017.
In May 2017, he announced that he would retire for good, officially taking a step back from his royal duties.
How the COVID-19 pandemic affected the queen, Philip
Philip, who turned 99 in June 2020, had been in isolation with the queen at Windsor Castle, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, or at Wood Farm at Sandringham since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Philip and the queen received their COVID-19 vaccines in January 2021.
The queen, who spent much of the coronavirus outbreak in self-isolation, wanted to go public with news of their vaccinations to dispel further speculation or inaccuracies about whether they received it. A household doctor at England’s Windsor Castle administered the vaccines.
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“Well, once you’ve had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is, I think, very important,” said the queen in a February 2021 video call with the officials responsible for rolling out the vaccine. “And as far as I can make out it was quite harmless, very quick. And I’ve had lots of letters from people who’ve been very surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine.”
The Duke of Edinburgh was hospitalized for an infection in February 2021 at the private King Edward VII’s Hospital often favored by royals. During the month he was under care he was briefly transferred to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital for successful treatment of a pre-existing heart ailment.
More:Queen Elizabeth II sends flowers, note to hospital that cared for Prince Philip
On the one-year anniversary of Britain’s first pandemic lockdown, Queen Elizabeth marked a National Day of Reflection by sending flowers and a graceful note to the London hospital that took care of her husband during his hospitalization.
The queen’s funeral arrangements
The funeral plan for the late sovereign is a characteristically Windsor blend of ancient tradition and modern practicalities, featuring tolling bells and half-mast flags with a ban on retweets and social media accounts gone dark.
Operation London Bridge, as the queen’s funeral plan is known, gets a military-style name in part because the military is heavily involved in organizing and carrying out many of the processions and ceremonies.
But another set of plans kicks into gear because the queen died at her beloved estate in Balmoral, Scotland. Dubbed Operation Unicorn, those plans, reports say, include having the queen’s body remain in Scotland for a number of days before eventually being transported, likely by plane, to London.
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Contributing: Maria Puente, Kelly Lawler and Edward Segarra, ; The