Match fit for a Queen

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II is the international celebration throughout 2012 marking the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the thrones of seven countries upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952.

The success of her reign, and her continued and remarkable popularity, is not just down to her own selfless commitment to the job of monarch, but also to the unstinting support of Prince Philip, who has been there to lean on through the most turbulent years.

Their relationship has been at the core of the Queen’s life. They met at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, when Princess Elizabeth, then aged 13, was shown round by Cadet Captain Prince Philip of Greece. After this first encounter, they met intermittently.

When Philip was eight, his mother, Princess Alice, was committed to a lunatic asylum, while his playboy father drifted around the Continent in a state of gloom. This perhaps accounts for official disapproval of the Queen’s choice of husband. They felt he was rough, uneducated, and probably would not be faithful.”

There is no doubt that the marriage is strong. The Prince, when asked about the success of his marriage, said: “The Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”

It is clear from Elizabeth’s warm tribute to her husband in her golden wedding speech at London’s Guildhall in 1997 that the relationship had been a personal as well as a public triumph.

“He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments,” she said. “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.”

The Queen and Prince Philip have stood the test of time and have been married for almost 65 years, despite the unease surrounding the love match in the beginning.

The first few years of their marriage were idyllic, living in Malta, where Prince Philip was stationed with the Royal Navy, as the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

It was a relatively ordinary life, away from the cameras and the onerous grind of official engagements. But after only four years Elizabeth’s father was dead, and she was Queen. Their private life was over – as was Philip’s naval career, which he resented.

In the subsequent decades, the Duke’s short-temper has often caused controversy. But without his love and unceasing support, the Queen’s enthusiasm for her job would be diminished.

She is a good mimic and unswervingly conscientious. He is cleverer. She is cautious. He is unpredictable, she is predictable. She is non-judgemental; he is not. He is always protective of her, often barking at photographers who get too close to the Queen to “get out of the way”.

Today,  the Queen and Prince Philip are enjoying their twilight years. They are closer than ever, particularly since the deaths of Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

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