Queen Elizabeth and Philip of Edinburgh had a complex relationship in the forties, and in the years to come, to which the Duke did not always adapt flexibly given the macho customs prevailing at the time. Isabel always managed their relationship with absolute privacy. And he did it out of love. The then princess daughter of King George VI met Philip when she was only 13 and he was 18.
It was on a visit to the Ship Britannia, from the Royal Naval College (from which he would graduate in 1939 as the best cadet in his class) that he was just another child. At Christmas 1943, a cousin of his and a friend of the royal family were invited to Windsor Castle. Isabel was already 17 years old, Felipe felt loved and welcomed by a family life that he had barely enjoyed before.
The young men began sending letters to themselves as he served as a Briton in World War II and she was taking refuge with her sister Margaret at Windsor Castle, with her parents in London. In September of that 1943, he went to Balmoral to spend a few days in summer and it was there that he proposed to Isabel to marry, although the king asked to wait for the young woman to turn 21. It was at the end of the war that their relationship really began, culminating in a grand wedding at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947.
There was popular acceptance for the future queen to marry a young cadet, but not so much within the family. But that was one of the first moments of Isabel’s life in which her iron determination decided for her and she managed to get ahead. Her desire to marry was such that, even in the post-war period, she paid for the fabrics and decoration of her dress with coupons from her ration card.
For more than 73 years of union, they survived against all odds. The couple left four children: Carlos, Ana, Andrés and Eduardo. Philip was a proud father to each and every one of his offspring. All of them were looking forward to June 10, when the Duke of Edinburgh would turn 100.