On Friday, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip, 98, was admitted into a hospital for a “preexisting condition.” He has since spent four consecutive days at King Edward VII Hospital in London. The statement reported that the hospitalization was done as a precautionary measure. Prince Philip walked into the hospital himself, and did not arrive by ambulance.
With the world’s eyes on Prince Philip, you might be wondering more about his long-lasting marriage to Queen Elizabeth. The royal couple celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary in November. After numerous hazards including world war, financial ruin, scandalous family dealings, and even Buckingham Palace catching fire, their marriage is seen as a bastion of calmness in a chaotic world. Here is the untold truth about Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s marriage.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are distantly related, twice over
Thanks to the convoluted way that Queen Victoria’s nine children intermarried with most of the other crowned families of Europe, everyone has some relation to everyone else. In the case of Philip and Elizabeth, they’re related through two separate lines. By descent of Victoria and Albert, they are third cousins. But also through Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel, they’re second cousins once removed.
Elizabeth was just 13 when she fell in love with Philip
Their five-year age difference no longer matters (Philip is 98 and Elizabeth is 93), but in the beginning it was a bit of a problem. They first met when she was 8 and he was 13. They were both attending the 1934 wedding of Philip’s cousin, Princess Maria of Greece and Denmark, to Elizabeth’s uncle Prince George, Duke of Kent. They met again in 1937. By the third time they met in 1939, when Elizabeth was 13 and Philip 18, Elizabeth reportedly fell in love with him. They began to write each other letters. Their courtship lasted seven years, and they became secretly engaged when Elizabeth was 20.
Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage was not arranged
Unlike the vast majority of young nobles, especially for one who would bear the crown, Elizabeth and Philip had decided for themselves to get married and had not been linked through matchmaking.
But circumstances like World War II kept them apart. Even at the war’s end in 1945, their relationship was mostly secret. It didn’t help that many of Philip’s relatives, including his sisters, were married to Germans, and thus an alliance with him was shaping up to be problematic.
Elizabeth’s parents did not approve of Philip
It wasn’t just that Philip was older: he didn’t have the titles and accolades considered fitting for someone meant to be the consort of a queen. But Elizabeth’s mind was set, and all King George could do was to ask Philip to delay announcing the engagement until 1947, after Elizabeth turned 21. Moreover, Elizabeth went on a long tour of South Africa before the engagement was announced, ostensibly to separate the pair and maybe get her to change her mind. It didn’t work, obviously.
Philip’s last name was a problem
Officially, and legally, the royal family is known as Windsor. This was an adopted name: Victoria and Albert had had the surname Saxe-Coburg Gotha. But with the events of WWI it was imperative that the family take a thoroughly British name, and so they became Windsors. But when Elizabeth married Philip she could not take his name of Mountbatten (formerly Battenburg, changed for the same reasons), because their future children would be Windsors. This did not change until 1960, when by decree their children took the name Windsor-Mountbatten, though the surname of the house as a whole remains Windsor.
Philip wasn’t crowned with Elizabeth
A king who marries gives the title of queen to his wife. But with a regnant queen things are a little different, since her husband cannot outrank her. On the day before his marriage to Elizabeth in 1947, Philip was made Duke of Edinburgh. He had to renounce his titles as Prince of Greece and Denmark before the wedding.
When King George died in 1952, Elizabeth became queen. She was just 25 years old, and was coronated a year later after the appropriate mourning period had passed. As with Prince Albert, Philip was accorded the title of prince, but not until 1957. His official title is “prince consort.”
There are rumors of Philip’s infidelity
Prince Philip doesn’t really have a role other than as the Queen’s “plus one.” He had been in the Royal Navy for over a decade when she came to the throne, and he had to give up his commission. Though they had four children together, rumors of Philip and his many assignations have plagued the royal couple through the years. But the rumors have died off as the years rolled on, and Philip and Elizabeth’s marriage appears to be stronger than ever.
Elizabeth and Philip have four children
Elizabeth and Philip had three sons, Charles, Andrew and Edward, and a daughter, Anne. Of their four children, three of them have gone through a divorce. Considering that royal divorce was out of the question until just recently, and that Elizabeth is the head of the Anglican church, there was never really a question of the royal marriage failing. (When Elizabeth’s sister Margaret got divorced in 1978, it was the first divorce in the royal family since Henry VIII.) Philip and Elizabeth are truly the last of their generation.
Elizabeth and Philip do not share a bedroom and rarely hold hands in public
Despite their united front, as a couple Elizabeth and Philip aren’t glued together. The pair has maintained separate but connected bedrooms since their early marriage. There are times when one goes on holiday and the other remains, for reasons of official duties. They rarely even hold hands in public. But that’s more of a statement about their social upbringing than their affection for one another. Even separate, they are very much together.
Philip receded from public life in 2017
Philip’s health in recent years has been the source of much speculation, especially since he receded from public life in 2017. He underwent hip replacement surgery in 2018. In January 2019, he caused controversy when he crashed a Land Rover he was driving, injuring two other people in the car. He voluntary surrendered his license as a result, and avoided prosecution.
Now, with Prince Philip hospitalized, Prince Charles has given an update on his father’s health. “He’s being looked after very well in hospital,” Charles said in a video obtained by the Daily Mail. “At the moment, that’s all we know.”