One of the most momentous weddings of modern British history took place on 20th November 1947, at Westminster Abbey, with the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. This took place nearly six years before Elizabeth was crowned the Queen of England.
The couple, who are distant cousins, had originally met in 1934 but the relationship achieved romantic proportions in 1939, when they again met at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, exchanging letters soon after.
Their engagement was officially announced in July 1947, and on the day of the wedding Philip was officially declared to be “Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich in the County of London”.
The Princess and her father, King George, travelled to Westminster Abbey for the wedding in the Irish State Coach escorted by the Household Cavalry in full ceremonial dress with a massive crowd, 50 deep in places, lining the route.
The wedding attracted tremendous interest from around the world, and was broadcast by BBC Radio to an international audience estimated to be around 200 million. In addition newsreel cameras were permitted into the Abbey for the first time and the film of the wedding was shown in cinemas across the world during the next few months. More than 2000 wedding presents were received together with some 10,000 congratulatory telegrams.
The wedding was welcome relief to a Britain still struggling out of the abyss of the Second World War. It was considered that a display of traditional pageantry would provide a boost to national morale, and Winston Churchill later described the event as “a flash of colour on the hard road we have to travel”.
20th November 2017 will be the Royal couple’s platinum anniversary – 70 years of marriage – and will be marked by the issue of commemorative souvenirs, including a set of double-headed platinum coins, and a newly released biography of the Royal couple.
Image: Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1950, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.