50 Years of Royal Wedded Bliss

By Thilak S.Fernando - Nov. 1997

On 20 November 1947, when even the television was a spark of thought in the minds of electronic engineers, a special marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey became a world event when two hundred million people got their ears glued to the radio to hear Elizabeth Alexandra Mary and a young dashing lieutenant, Philip, attached to the Royal Navy, making their vows.

Elizabeth was born on 21 April 1926. She was the eldest daughter of Duke of York, who was later crowned as King George VI. At the tender age of ten, her uncle David, the Duke of Windsor abandoned the throne for the woman he loved - Mrs. Simpson. At the age of thirteen Princess Elizabeth fell in love with her ' penniless' Greek cousin Philip, who was eighteen years old.

Princess Elizabeth and Philip had known each other as children, but on their first meeting in the Captain's House in Dartmouth in 1939, when she joined her parents and sister Margaret on an official visit, young princess Elizabeth 'fell in love with Philip over shrimps and banana split'. Although they enjoyed the day as children, it had to be ' love at first sight' for Princess Elizabeth. In the words of Royal Governess, " she never took eyes again off him."

The Second World War parted Elizabeth and Philip. As a lieutenant in the HM Navy he was mobilised in the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and Home waters. In 1944, Philip's parents, the Greek Royal family, had exiled. Simultaneously they were contemplating of an engagement between Elizabeth and their son Philip. To much of their disappointment the King GeorgeVI dismissed the idea as he thought the Princess was far too young for marriage.

According to various reports Philip, as a handsome naval officer, was ' no stranger to the attraction of women and, had earned a reputation in the society as N.S.I.T (Not Safe in Taxis). The Princess on the other hand was shy and dreaded parties, especially when she had made her mind up on the man to love and marry and spend the rest of her life with him. There was no need for her to socialise.

Philip was a direct descendent of Queen Victoria, like Elizabeth. Born on the kitchen table of the family in Corfu, he was exiled less than a year later when his family was ousted in a coup.

When the war was over, the relationship between Elizabeth and Philip deepened and the Queen, mother of Elizabeth, was beginning to worry about her daughter being obsessed with the first person she had ever had romantic feelings. When Princess Elizabeth's mother tried to persuade her to get to know a few other men, Princess Elizabeth took Dutch courage to inform her parents and obtained the blessings to marry Philip, when reaching the age of twenty one.

Three months after her 21 birthday in 1947, their engagement was announced while the Greek Prince paid 10 to renounce his own title and become a British citizen. On 20 November 1947, their marriage took place at Westminster Abbey making it a global occasion for 200 million of people across the world.

Although Princess Elizabeth's ambition had been to grow up to be a lady and live in the country, Providence had made other changes in her life with the sudden demise of her beloved father, King George VI. Duty called her to transform her future into an entirely unexpected dimension as Queen of Great Britain and the Head of Commonwealth.

From thereon, she has been travelling thousands of miles in England and around the world and devised a special grip to shake millions of hands. It is said that had Philip married anyone else, the gifts would have come-in useful as he had only two suits, 6.50 savings and was on a 11 a week wages.

On 14 November 1948 the Royal couple had their first child - Charles. In 1950 young princess's second pregnancy was announced from Malta. In 1951 Philip gave up his naval career to spend more time with the family. When Philip was based in Malta Princess's 2nd pregnancy was announced and Anne was born on August 15. In 1952 King George VI expired. In 1953 Princess Elizabeth's Coronation took place and Philip gave up his naval career altogether to begin their Royal life in earnestness. In 1960 Andrew was born and, on 10 March 1964 Edward followed.

In 1973 the first marriage of the Royal generation took place when Anne married Capt. Mark Phillip. In June 1981, Prince Charles, still being in love with old girl friend Camilla Parker Bowls, married Diana. In 1986 Prince Andrew got married to Sara Ferguson and later Anne and Mark's 18 year old marriage ended up with dignity.

While almost all the other royal marriages have foundered Queen's marriage is still a story. One reason for the couple's contentment is said to be their shared interests. On July 15 the highlight of their 50th Anniversary celebration took place in the form of a garden party at Buckingham Palace with 4000 other couples who married in the same year as the Queen.

Four years ago, at the age of 67, Queen's hair rapidly started turning grey and smiles turned into a frown. It had nothing to do with her decision to marry the first man she ever loved, but it was the 'annus horribillis' of Royal scandals and disasters which were packed and delivered to her in a bitter dose.

Over the years the young members of the Royal family had not helped them much. The breaking up of Duke of York's and Fergie's marriage, Charles and Diana's separation, Princess Anne's divorce, Princess Diana's untimely death, and remaining saga was no consolation to her pilling up worries.

Over their 50-year marriage millions of facts have been reported about the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. Over a period of half a century the Queen has seen her family transformed an aloof institution into something resembling a TV soap opera. For better, for worse the queen's family has given her great joy, six much loved grandchildren and more anguish than she can ever imagined. Exactly on the day, 50 years later loyal subjects and crowned heads of Europe became royal guests and best of British to set before the Queen when it all began with a very British lunch accompanied by English wines and finished off with bread and butter pudding. On the eve of their golden anniversary 236 relatives and special friends and 2,700 members of the public joined for a gala concert at the Royal Festival Hall. To punctuate their 50 years of Royal Wedded Bliss, the Queen and Prince Phillip posed for an official portrait while the British post office released a special postage stamp to mark their golden anniversay.