‘To have fallen in love unreservedly, makes all one’s troubles seem small and petty’: Prince Philip’s adoring letters to his beloved ‘Lilibet’ over 73 years of marriage to the Queen
- Letter is among those revealed in Philip Eade’s 2011 book about Duke’s early life
- Philip told Princess Elizabeth in 1946 he had ‘completely’ fallen in love with her
- He also described how he felt incapable of ‘showing you the gratitude that I feel’
- And said to Queen Mother that ‘Lilibet’ was the only thing ‘absolutely real to me’
In words laden with affection and warmth, Prince Philip told the then Princess Elizabeth how he had fallen in love with her ‘unreservedly’.
The letter, written in 1946 – a year before their wedding – was among several revealed in Philip Eade’s 2011 book Young Prince Philip: His Turbulent Early Life.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who has died aged 99, told the Princess how falling in love with her so ‘completely’ had made his personal troubles and even those of the world ‘seem small and petty’.
He also found it difficult to put his feelings into words, describing in another message after they had spent time together how he felt incapable of ‘showing you the gratitude that I feel’.
And he told the Queen Mother in the year of her daughter’s wedding to him how ‘Lilibet’ was the ‘only thing in this world which is absolutely real to me’.
In words laden with affection and warmth, Prince Philip told the then Princess Elizabeth in 1946 how he had fallen in love with her ‘unreservedly’
The letter, written in 1946 – a year before their wedding – was among several revealed in Philip Eade’s book 2011 Young Prince Philip: His Turbulent Early Life
Philip served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and saw active service against German, Italian and Japanese forces.
The Greek prince’s early life was also marked by upheaval – he escaped his home country as a baby by being hidden in a makeshift cot made from an orange box.
So his words were filled with meaning when he told Princess Elizabeth in 1946 how his love for her made all his past struggle – and the horrors the world had just been through – seem trivial by comparison.
He wrote: ‘To have been spared in the war and seen victory, to have been given the chance to rest and to re-adjust myself, to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one’s personal and even the world’s troubles seem small and petty.’
Three years earlier, Philip had spent Christmas at Windsor Castle.
Princess Elizabeth was said to be animated in a way ‘none of us had ever seen before’, her governess, Marion Crawford, wrote.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who has died aged 99, told the Princess how falling in love with her so ‘completely’ had made his personal troubles and even those of the world ‘seem small and petty’
Philip told the Queen Mother in the year of her daughter’s wedding to him how ‘Lilibet’ was the ‘only thing in this world which is absolutely real to me. Pictured: The Queen and the Duke wave from the Buckingham Palace balcony following her coronation in 1953
Writing to her after seeing her again in July, Philip wrote of the ‘simple enjoyment of family pleasures and amusements and the feeling that I am welcome to share them.
‘I am afraid I am not capable of putting all this into the right words and I am certainly incapable of showing you the gratitude that I feel.’
The same year, he apologised for the ‘monumental cheek’ of turning up to Buckingham Palace uninvited.
‘Yet however contrite I feel, there is always a small voice that keeps saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”,’ he wrote.
‘Well did I venture, and I gained a wonderful time.’
Princess Elizabeth photographed in Clarence House in July 1951, with the Duke of Edinburgh
Princess Elizabeth and Philip enjoying a walk during their honeymoon at Broadlands in Hampshire in November 1947
Princess Elizabeth dancing with her then fiancé, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, in 1947, when a ball was held to welcome the royal family to Scotland
Princess Elizabeth with Prince Philip just after their engagement was announced
Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth walking in the grounds of Broadlands, the home of the Duke’s uncle Earl Mountbatten on their honeymoon, November 1947
The then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh with their baby daughter, Princess Anne, after her christening at Buckingham Palace in October 1950
And in a letter to the Queen Mother two weeks after his wedding to Princess Elizabeth in November 1947, Philip expressed his vision for their time together.
He said: ‘Lilibet is the only thing in this world which is absolutely real to me and my ambition is to wield the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us but will also have a positive existence for the good… Cherish Lilibet?’
‘I wonder if that word is enough to express what is in me. Does one cherish one’s sense of humour or one’s musical ear or one’s eyes?
‘I am not sure, but I know that I thank God for them and so, very humbly, I thank God for Lilibet and us’.
The pair’s wedding, attended by an array of foreign kings and queens, captured the public imagination in the austere post-war days of November 1947.
The newly-weds were called the Fairy Princess and Prince Charming.
After honeymooning at Broadlands, Hampshire, home of Lord Mountbatten, and at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate in Scotland, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh stayed at Buckingham Palace until renovation of their new home, nearby Clarence House, was completed in 1949.
And in the years since then, both Philip and the Queen have spoken of each other with affection in public.
Princess Elizabeth and the Duke at Buckingham Palace after their marriage at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. The wedding, attended by an array of foreign kings and queens, captured the public imagination in the austere post-war days
Mischievous Philip, is said to have joked to his wife on the day of her coronation in 1953 – when she was wearing the 17th century St Edward’s Crown -‘where did you get that hat?’
The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke pictured against a platinum-textured backdrop in recognition of their special anniversary in 2017. The Queen is wearing a cream day dress by Angela Kelly and a ‘Scarab’ brooch in yellow gold, carved ruby and diamond, designed by Andrew Grima, and given as a personal gift from the Duke to The Queen in 1966
In a 1997 toast during the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary, he said: ‘I think the main lesson that we have learned is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage’.
‘It may not be quite so important when things are going well, but it is absolutely vital when the going gets difficult.
‘You can take it from me that the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.’
She said on the same evening that Philip had been her ‘strength and stay all these years’.
‘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,’ she added.
Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, on honeymoon, photographed in the grounds of Broadlands looking at their wedding photographs, on November 23, 1947
The Queen and Philip visit the mining village of Aberfan in South Wales, eight days after the disaster that claimed 144 lives in October 1966
In 2002, at her Golden Jubilee Speech, the monarch said of her consort: ‘The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past fifty years, as he has to so many charities and organisations with which he has been involved.’
And, during her Diamond Jubilee address to Parliament in 2012, the Queen said to her husband: ‘During these years as your Queen, the support of my family has, across the generations, been beyond measure.
‘Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind. But throughout he has been a constant strength and guide.’
Philip was there for the Queen when her father, King George VI, died in February 1952.
Only six days before her father’s death, the then Princess and Philip had embarked on their tour of Australia via Kenya.
According to Eade in his book, Philip said of the days following the King’s death that ‘there were plenty of people telling me what not to do’.
The Queen and Prince Philip wave from a vehicle to onlookers at Clifford Park at Nassau in the Bahamas on February 28, 1966
The Queen and Prince Philip dance at a state ball in Valletta during a Commonwealth visit to Malta on November 16, 1967
The Queen and the Duke shared an irreplaceable bond – united at key moments of history, witnessed from the viewpoint of a monarch and her consort. Above, on a farm at their Balmoral estate while celebrating their silver wedding anniversary in 1972
He added: ‘I had to try to support the Queen as best I could without getting in the way.
‘The difficulty was to find things that might be useful.’
And according to an anecdote told by Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia, Philip is said to have told the Queen when recalling their first meeting – in 1934 – that ‘you were so shy.
‘I could not get a word out of you.’
Mischievous Philip, is also said to have joked to his wife on the day of her coronation in 1953 – when she was wearing the 17th century St Edward’s Crown -‘where did you get that hat’.
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