Wedding Service

Inside the wedding of the Queen and Prince Philip: photos and facts

The Queen and Prince Philip were married in 1947, 74 years ago, making history the longest marriage of all British rulers. At the time it was, of course, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, who tied the knot in the rather austere years of post-war Britain. So what really happened on their wedding day? Here’s what happened on the big day itself.


The love affair between the Queen and Prince Philip began in 1939. Princess Elizabeth was only 13 years old, her dashing distant cousin, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, was five years her senior and was on the point of joining the Royal Navy. They met while she was visiting the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, he was the young officer in charge of escorting her that day.

Determined to marry for love, Elizabeth would have been instead taken with Philip who was described at the time as “ handsome like any movie star ”. The two soon wrote letters to each other and later occasional escorted meetings were held.

The couple on their engagement, 1947

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In 1946 Philip proposed to Scotland and she immediately said yes. However, her father, King George, reportedly insisted the couple resist announcing their engagement until the princess, who was only 20, was a little older. Ultimately, his parents gave in to his wishes, and Philip officially offered Princess Elizabeth in 1947 a three-karat diamond ring that he designed using stones taken from a family tiara having belonged to his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg. It was created by London jeweler Philip Antrobus Ltd.

The wedding dress and the tiara

The royal family have insisted that the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip will reflect the country’s post-war situation while providing the nation with a chance to celebrate.

Like many brides at the time, Princess Elizabeth had to hold on to her ration coupons to purchase the materials for her dress, but she received an additional $ 200 from the government to help. As well-wishers generously sent theirs to the royal, they had to be fired as the rules dictated that coupons could not be shared outside of households.

Princess Elizabeth with Philip Mountbatten on their wedding day

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Designed by Norman Hartnell, Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress was made of ivory silk, duchess satin and silver thread, the dress featured crystals, 10,000 seed beads, fitted bodice, heart-shaped neckline , long sleeves and a 15 foot train. It was completed in just seven weeks by 350 skilled women since the wedding took place just four months after the couple’s engagement announcement. Norman Hartnell also designed Elizabeth’s starting outfit.

Princess Elizabeth’s wedding day tiara was called the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara. It had belonged to her grandmother, Queen Mary, and was given to her as a wedding present in 1893. It had been remade from a tiara / necklace that Queen Victoria had purchased at Collingwood and Co.

As Elizabeth was getting ready on the morning of the wedding, it broke. Luckily, Royal Garrard Jewelry was apparently on hand to fix it and the Queen later revealed: ‘I think he taped the spring. ”

Princess Elizabeth’s other wedding day jewelry included two pearl necklaces, the shorter of the two necklaces was the ‘Queen Anne’ necklace, believed to have belonged to Anne, the last Queen Stuart. The other was known as “Queen Caroline” and is believed to have belonged to the wife of King George II. Both necklaces were left to the Crown by Queen Victoria and were given to Elizabeth as a wedding present by her father.

All royal bridal bouquets contain myrtle from a myrtle planted by Queen Victoria at Osborne House. Princess Elizabeth also had white orchids and she was laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey the day after the wedding.

The wedding

There were eight bridesmaids at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip: Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra, Lady Pamela Mountbatten, Diana Bowes-Lyon, Lady Elizabeth Lambart, Margaret Elphinstone, Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott and Lady Mary Cambridge.

Its two pages were Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent, aged five.

The bridesmaids were given Art Deco-style silver pacts with the couple’s initials and a crown engraved on the cover and set with five cabochon sapphires.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s witness of honor was David Mountbatten, the Marquess of Milford Haven.

The wedding ceremony

Knowing that Elizabeth hated cigarettes because of her father’s habit, Prince Philip reportedly quit smoking on his wedding morning “ suddenly and apparently without difficulty, ” according to his valet, John Dean.

The wedding took place at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947 at 11:30 a.m. Princess Elizabeth was the 10th member of the royal family to marry at Westminster Abbey.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip walking down the aisle of Westminster Abbey, followed by their bridesmaids and pages

Bert Hardy / Post photo / Getty Images

There were 2,000 guests, including the King of Iraq, Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Princess Elisabeth of Luxembourg. The ceremony was broadcast on the radio to millions of listeners.

With her father, Princess Elizabeth left Buckingham Palace in the Irish coach. In her later years, it was Queen Victoria’s state car of choice, as she refused to use the Gold State Coach after Prince Albert’s death.

The wedding ceremony was presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, and the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett.

The abbey’s organist and choirmaster, Australian William Neil McKie, was the music director for the wedding and there were 91 singers; the choir of the abbey was joined by the choirs of the Royal Chapel and St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

The service began with a specially composted brass band by Arnold Bax and ended with Felix Mendelssohn’s’ Wedding March ‘with ceremonial hymns including’ Praise, my soul ‘, the’ King of the heaven ” and “ The Lord is my Shepherd ”.

The bride and groom knelt on orange boxes covered in pink silk at the altar in a sign of post-war austerity.

On the wedding day, Philip was awarded the title of Duke of Edinburgh by his stepfather King George VI. After the Queen ascended to the throne in 1953, she made the decision in 1957 to make Philip a prince of the United Kingdom, in addition to her duchy.

The alliances

The wedding rings were made from a Welsh gold nugget from the Clogau St David mine near Dolgellau.

According to royal biographer Ingrid Seward who wrote Prince Philip: Revealed, Philip had a secret message inscribed inside his wife’s wedding ring, a message that only the engraver, Elizabeth and her husband know the contents of.

Wedding breakfast

Following the service, a wedding breakfast was held at lunchtime in the Ball-Supper Room at Buckingham Palace for only 150 guests, with Filet de Sole Mountbatten, Perdreau en Casserole and Princess Elizabeth Ice Bomb on the menu. .

During breakfast, the Grenadier Guards Marching Band played music as guests were greeted with individual bouquets of myrtle and white balmoral on their cutlery as wedding favors.

Waving from the balcony of Buckingham Palace

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Famously, the newlyweds took to the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet the huge crowds at the mall.

The wedding cake

Although the royal couple received 11 wedding cakes, the official traditional fruit cake was baked by McVitie and Price and was four stories tall and nine feet tall. The wedding cake was decorated with both coats of arms, including monograms of the bride and groom, sugar-iced figurines of their favorite activities, and regimental and naval badges.

McVitie and Price pastry chef Mr. Schur puts the finishing touches on the wedding cake

JA Hampton / News Agency / Getty Images

The newlyweds cut the cake using the Duke’s Mountbatten sword, which was a wedding gift from the king.

10,000 people sent telegrams congratulating Elizabeth and Philip and 2,500 wedding gifts were sent from all over the world. These included a fabric of Mahatma Gandhi that he himself had woven, which Queen Mary mistook for an “ indelicate ” loincloth.

The royal honeymoon

After their wedding breakfast, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip made their way to Waterloo Station, joined by Elizabeth’s corgi, Susan, taking a train to Hampshire to spend their wedding night in Broadlands, the home of Philip’s uncle, Earl Mountbatten.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip receive rose petals as they leave Buckingham Palace in London for their honeymoon.

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The remainder of their royal honeymoon was spent at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate in Scotland.

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