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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip Met on a Tennis Court Nearly 80 Years Ago

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip stand in a fancy gilded room in Buckingham Palace, she in a knitted dress and he in a sport coat

(Royal Family photo by Matt Holyoak)

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have been married 70 years as of November 20, 2017. (Wow!)  They’ve just released this 70th anniversary portrait in a rather interesting setting:

The portraits… were taken in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle in early November… The Queen and His Royal Highness are framed by Thomas Gainsborough’s 1781 portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte, who were married for 57 years.

Nice to see the royal family embracing crazy old George III, who does deserve a little credit for staying married for so long. (More likely it’s Queen Charlotte who deserves the credit.)

At any rate, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are looking slightly more casual there than they did on their wedding day in 1947:

Queen Elizabeth II in a wedding dress and Prince Philip in full military dress uniform

(Royal Family photo)

The future queen and her future husband met on a tennis court in Devonshire in 1939, according to one lively report:

Philip, who was just 18, was introduced to 13-year-old Elizabeth at the house of the Captain of the College, later Admiral Sir Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton… Handsome, blond-haired, athletic Philip caught Lilibet’s eye as he entertained her by jumping over tennis nets.

The old net-jumping devil! At the home of the future “Admiral Sir Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton” — you can’t get much more British than that. Their relationship was fated from the start.

The Royal Family has released 70 facts about the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s wedding, albeit rather boring facts, one must admit:

51. Mahatma Gandhi sent a present. It was a piece of cotton lace that he spun himself, and is embroidered with the words “Jai Hind” (Victory for India).

52. They also received many practical gifts; Queen Mary gave a bookcase and Princess Margaret gave a picnic case. Other gifts included a Singer sewing machine and a fridge!

Good old prickly Gandhi. India had just won its independence from Britain a few months earlier, and it seems he couldn’t resist rubbing the princess’s nose in it. Still, the picnic basket and refrigerator surely made up for it.

DevonLive has a rather more interesting list of 70 facts to mark their 70th anniversary, among them:

4. While Philip was away at sea, the princess kept a picture of him in her room. She later replaced the photograph of a clean-shaven Philip with one of him sporting a large beard to prevent him being recognised and stop any gossip about their relationship.

9. Philip gave up smoking on the morning of his wedding in a bid to please his new bride.

25. Sir Norman Hartnell once recalled how rumours circulated that the silkworms used for the gown were of Italian or Japanese origin and therefore provided by “enemy” territories. But they were provided by the Scottish firm of Winterthur in Dunfermline and came from Chinese silkworms at Lullingstone Castle.

63. The Princess’s beloved corgi, Susan, went with them on their honeymoon.

Enemy silkworms and beloved corgis — now we’re getting somewhere! Hard to believe the beard trick ever fooled anyone, however. Not even Admiral Sir Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton.

Well, it all worked out in the end. Happy anniversary to the happy couple!

See our biography of Queen Elizabeth II »

 

 

 

 

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