A Look Back on Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's Royal Wedding Day

Over seven decades after they said "I do."

Getty Images

To celebrate over seven decades of the royal couple's impressively long marriage, we're looking back on the original royal wedding of the century, Queen Elizabeth's November 20, 1947 wedding to Prince Philip.

Getty Images

How They Met

As is common in European royal families, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip of Greece are distant cousins. Both are great-great-grandchildren of the OG bride, Queen Victoria. They first met when she was 13 and he was 18, when the then-princess visited the Royal Navy College with her family (he was a cadet in training), and evidently it was love at first site.

Marion Crawford, the queen's nanny at the time, noted in her book that Elizabeth "never took her eyes off him." Elizabeth's cousin, Margaret Rhodes told Vanity Fair, "She never looked at anyone else."

Philip and the princess continued to correspond while he was at sea during World War II. Philip regularly visited the royal family while on leave from the navy, spending time with Elizabeth at Windsor Castle and Balmoral, the family's Scottish estate (one of the queen's favorite places to this day).

The Proposal

After the war, Philip relocated to London and frequently visited the young princess at Buckingham Palace.

Philip proposed to Elizabeth after a monthlong vacation at Balmoral with her family. Her father insisted that the engagement be kept under wraps until the princess turned 21. Philip then gave up his title as H.R.H. Prince Philip of Greece.

An engagement ring was crafted by Philip Antrobus, a London jeweler, out of diamonds from Philip's mother's tiara.

Getty Images

The Dress

Elizabeth chose a duchesse satin, long-sleeved wedding dress with floral embroidery and crystal and pearl appliqués (10,000 pearls, to be exact) designed by Norman Hartnell, who cited as his inspiration Botticelli's painting "Primavera." The 13-foot silk train made for quite the entrance and no doubt set royal wedding trends for the future. (Hello, Fergie's and Princess Diana's trains.)

Getty Images

Her veil was of course topped off with a diamond tiara, made from a necklace given to Queen Victoria as a wedding present.

Getty Images

The Details

Much like Prince William and Duchess Kate after them, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's nuptials took place at Westminster Abbey. But the wedding was the first major event to grace London since the end of the war. The king insisted on a quiet wedding, so as not to offend the British people, and the princess even saved up ration cards to purchase a wedding gown.

Only 150 guests attended the wedding celebration, a luncheon at Buckingham Palace which featured a towering, tiered wedding cake.

Getty Images

Flowers were present in the form of pink and white carnations on the tables and small bouquets of myrtle and Balmoral heather at each seat. The only over-the-top portion of the celebration: The bride and groom cut their four-tier, 500-pound wedding cake with Philip's sword.

Getty Images

The Honeymoon

In typical Queen Elizabeth fashion—she loves the outdoors—the couple honeymooned at Broadlands, his family's estate in Hampshire, and then spent two weeks in an early-18th-century stone lodge in the middle of the woods of the Balmoral estate. The couple spent much of the honeymoon deerstalking.

Related Stories