Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign will be celebrated across the country this weekend. Four days of festivities will see the monarch’s annual birthday parade, Party at the Palace — a pop concert at Her Majesty’s primary London residence — and the Platinum Jubilee Pageant — the big finale. It marks the first — and possibly the last — Platinum Jubilee in British royal history.
The Queen will be joined by her family to mark the momentous occasion, with Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge expected to play central roles. One notable absence will be Prince Philip, the monarch’s loyal consort, who sadly died in April last year.
For the majority of her reign, the Queen had Philip by her side, as the pair married in 1947, six years before Elizabeth ascended the throne. They had in fact known each other for a considerable time before this, having met eight years earlier while Philip was a cadet at the naval college in Dartmouth. It was there that Elizabeth first fell for the Greek prince, and the pair’s royal romance began.
The Queen has since given insight on their first encounter, saying Philip had a “mischievous, enquiring twinkle”, and in a recent BBC documentary entitled ‘Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen’, Her Majesty describes her husband. She said: “His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation, were all irrepressible. “That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him.”
The words were first broadcast in December last year, during the Queen’s annual Christmas speech, an event that was particularly poignant as it marked the monarch’s first Christmas without the Duke. Her Majesty paid emotional tribute to her “beloved Philip”, saying: “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.” Philip narrowly missed out on celebrating his 100th birthday.
He was Britain’s longest-serving royal consort, supporting the Queen for 70 years after leaving his active military service when Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952. He has been described as a moderniser of the Royal Family and is said to have been a driving force behind some of the changes made within the monarchy. He particularly encouraged the televising of the parts of the Queen’s coronation, something that Her Majesty was not initially onboard with.
When he retired from royal duties in 2017, he was said to be patron, president or a member of more than 780 organisations. In the year leading up to his death, Philip and the Queen are understood to have led a simpler life on the Windsor estate as during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown they retreated to Windsor Castle where they lived away from the buzz of royal protocol.
In November 2020, the royal couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary and in December, they spent their last Christmas Day alone together. Following a stay in King Edward VII’s Hospital in March last year, Philip was reunited with the Queen at Windsor Castle, where he spent his final weeks. She has since made Windsor Castle her permanent residence, and carries out a lot of her royal engagements from home. Her attendance at events during the Jubilee weekend will be confirmed on the day.