A royal partnership

LONDON - Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary on Tuesday, have gone from smitten young royals to partners at the top of 'The Firm'.­



roThe "partnershipª between them at the head of the British monarchy is as enduring as it is mysterious.­

When Britain's Princess Elizabeth first met her distant cousin Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in 1939, she was 13 years old and he 18. He entertained her by jumping over tennis nets.­

The future queen, nicknamed Lilibet as a youngster, recounted later that she felt love at first sight for the dashing prince, tall with blond hair and blue eyes. The pair began a regular correspondence.­

"It's quite a case of opposites attract,ª said Marc Roche, who has written a biography of Queen Elizabeth.­

"She is serious, shy and introverted, while he is an extrovert, loves people and social interaction and is humorous. They complement each other,ª he told AFP.­

The wedding, on November 20, 1947 in central London's historic Westminster Abbey, was a splash of colour for World War II-weary Britain.­

The couple lived in Malta where Philip, a lieutenant and a rising star in the Royal Navy, was based with the British Mediterranean Fleet.­

But their relatively care-free lives were overturned on February 6, 1952 when her father king George VI died prematurely. Aged 25, Princess Elizabeth became queen of Britain and its dwindling empire.­

Prince Philip's military career was over and the peppery naval officer with an action-man approach was left facing a lifetime of being in his wife's shadow.­

The prince walks several paces behind the queen and silently sits alongside her at endless engagements.­

ro1It was even deemed that his family name, Mountbatten -- an Anglicised version of Battenberg, his mother's family name -- should not become the name of the royal house, as per tradition.­

It prompted Prince Philip's terse, reported remark that he had been "turned into an amoebaª.­

Despite his personal frustration, Prince Philip has proved his loyalty to the queen over six decades of public life.­

Besides supporting his wife, he has carved out a role as best he could under the constraints of his situation.­

He is the patron of several organisations and charities and is mostly in charge of running "The Firmª, the royals' nickname for the family.­

The couple share the traditional passions of the British aristocracy, such as the countryside, horses and hunting.­

Their royal duties often oblige them to live separate but parallel lives. They live and sleep in separate quarters.­

However, they eat breakfast together in the morning and enjoy a drink together in the evening in their apartments.­

Prince Philip, 86, often then goes out again, and Queen Elizabeth, 81, if there is not an engagement to attend, spends her evenings in her private quarters.­

Unproven rumours circled that the prince, irritated at playing second fiddle to the queen's marriage to duty, had numerous affairs in the 1950s. She has never strayed, one of her cousins told a chronicler.­

The education of their four children, Princess Anne and Princes Charles, Andrew and Edward, was left to Prince Philip, who decided to bring them up the hard way, as he had been raised.­

Charles is reported to have hated his time at Gordonstoun school in Scotland.­

Over the years, the prince and the queen have formed a ªpartnershipª based on discipline and mutual commitment, according to Andrew.­

"I think the main lesson that we have learnt is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage,ª Prince Philip said on their golden wedding anniversary in 1997.­

"You can take it from me that the queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.ª­

Queen Elizabeth said he is her "strength and stay.ª­

"All too often, I fear, Prince Philip has had to listen to me speaking,ª she said.­

"Frequently we have discussed my intended speech beforehand and, as you will imagine, his views have been expressed in a forthright manner.­

"He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments 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.ª­

Gyles Brandreth, author of "Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriageª, wrote: "There is no question: the queen and Prince Philip have enjoyed an outstanding working partnership. But are they happy -- whatever happiness means?ª­

Roche said: "I think it's a happy marriageª adding it was "a marriage on the aristocratic model -- which is a bit difficult to understand nowadays -- tied to their royal duties which have dominated their entire lives, their family life and their existence as a couple.

ro2A style for all seasons

IT IS a timeless style and one she has made her own. From young wasp-waisted Princess to stately matriarch, the Queen's look has barely changed over six decades ñ as the new Broadlands photograph clearly shows.

Even as a teenager, she favoured elegant, tailored coats and dresses over the fleeting fancies of the fashion world. Royal couturiers such as Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell have worked to an exacting brief over the years.

As fashion expert Karen Kay explains, the Queen's wardrobe faces stern tests. 'Hemlines are turned to a sensible length so as not to reveal the Royal knees, and weighted to counter gusts of wind,' she says.

'Hats are designed to stay on, whatever the weather, and without the Queen having to hold them on.

'She once told Royal milliner Philip Somerville she had never once lost a hat.

'The shoes, generally patent leather courts with block-heels, are high enough to create some elegance, while sturdy enough to withstand a Royal walkabout.'

The Queen's off-duty wardrobe has also remained constant throughout the years, suggesting that personal choice has also played its role. Her natural preference is for tweeds and wax coats, her only accessories a folded Hermes silk twill headscarf and pair of wellington boots. The Mail on Sunday columnist and fashion writer Liz Jones says that while it is easy to mock the Queen ñ pictured left in 1947 before her wedding ñ her style does its job to perfection.

'For me she is a member of that rare breed of women

ñ and among them I include Jackie Onassis and American Vogue's Anna Wintour ñ who very early on in life found what suited them and stuck to it, come what may,' she says.

The same look of love, 60 years on

ro3ro4BEYOND the obvious signs of ageing, there is little about the Queen and Prince Philip that appears to have changed in the 60 years since these pictures were taken ñ least of all their dress sense.

The scene for both is the same: the grounds of Broadlands in Hampshire where the couple posed first on their honeymoon in November, 1947.

And that pose is strikingly similar for the second shot 60 years on. The Queen's right hand nestles in the crook of her husband's left arm and she wears the same warm smile. The Duke of Edinburgh returns her gaze, yet, as ever, appears a little less comfortable in front of the camera. But most remarkably of all in this latest photograph ñ part of a set officially released to mark the couple's diamond wedding anniversary on Tuesday ñ they are wearing outfits almost identical to those from their honeymoon.

Even the Queen's jewellery is the same: a double strand pearl necklace that was a wedding gift from her father George VI and a brooch, believed to be one given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria before their marriage.

Despite the similarities, Buckingham Palace sources insisted yesterday that the couple never set out to formally recreate the honeymoon pictures.

It was simply gentle encouragement from a photographer, they said, that led to the Queen linking arms and turning to face her husband.

And they are symbols of constancy, after all.

The Royal couple will tomorrow mark their milestone with a special service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey where they married. Some 2,000 people will gather for the celebration, the day before their actual anniversary.

As well as more than 30 members of the Royal Family including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Prince Harry Gordon Brown and Baroness Thatcher are among the guests,

Future king William, 25, will give a reading, while the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will bless the Queen and the Duke and deliver the address. Dame Judi Dench will read a specially commissioned poem by the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.

But a diamond-themed celebration party at The Ritz must wait because the Queen will be in Malta on the day of the anniversary, followed by a state visit to Uganda. The party is now planned for five months' time.

The Queen met her husband as a 13-year-old in 1939. Throughout her teens, she stayed devoted to Philip, who proposed in 1946 at Balmoral. 'It was wonderful, magical,' she was later quoted as saying.

The engagement was controversial and both of Elizabeth's parents were initially opposed. It was not until April 1947 that George VI gave them permission to marry. Prince Philip gave up his Greek citizenship and title and abandoned his previous surname of Schleswig- Holstein- Sonderburg-Glucksburg for Mountbatten.


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