(LONDON) — Queen Elizabeth II’s death at age 96 comes over one year after the death of her husband, Prince Philip, who died in April 2021 at the age of 99.
Their deaths marked the end of a seven-decade love story that started before the queen ascended to the throne.
“He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments, but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,” the queen said in 1997, paying tribute to her husband on their golden wedding anniversary. “And 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.”
The Greek-born Prince Philip first met then-Princess Elizabeth in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark and Prince George, the Duke of Kent.
Philip and Elizabeth shared a great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.
Philip was a direct descendant of Princess Alice, the third child of Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth is a direct descendant of Queen Victoria’s oldest son, who became King Edward VII, according to the royal family’s website.
After their first meeting, Elizabeth and Philip met several times over the course of the next decade, and a very young Princess Elizabeth became smitten with the blond, blue-eyed Philip. Her governess recorded that Philip’s “Viking good looks” made quite an impression on the princess.
The couple exchanged letters and, in 1946, Philip, then in his mid-20s, was given permission by King George VI to marry his daughter, on the condition that they wait until Elizabeth was 21.
Her father’s courtiers, however, were less impressed.
There were reportedly reservations about Philip’s lack of financial resources and foreign roots, and King George VI was also reportedly concerned about his daughter’s young age.
The couple endured the doubts and married on Nov. 20, 1947, in a royal wedding in Westminster Abbey.
Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles and adopted the anglicized surname of his mother’s family, calling himself Lt. Philip Mountbatten. His new father-in-law, the king, granted him the titles of Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.
For several years after their marriage, Philip and Elizabeth lived a relatively normal life. He continued to serve in the Royal Navy, and the couple soon had their two oldest children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne.
Philip and Elizabeth’s lives changed in 1952 when, while Elizabeth was touring Kenya, her father died.
She became Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 25, and Philip gave up his career in the Royal Navy to support his wife.
The queen did not give her husband the formal title of “prince consort,” as was done in the past. Five years after the queen ascended to the throne, though, in 1957, she made Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, a prince of the United Kingdom.
Philip, who had four children with the queen, had reportedly been angry to learn, after his wife’s accession, that his children would never bear his last name, according to a 2012 biography of the queen by author Sally Bedell Smith.
“I’m nothing but a bloody amoeba,” Philip reportedly said, according to the book. “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.”
Although they didn’t bear his surname, Philip took a very active role in the upbringing of his children — Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward — and was very protective of both his family and the family business into which he married.
He was by Elizabeth’s side on all 251 of the official overseas visits she made before Philip passed away, according to the palace.
For Philip’s 90th birthday in 2011, the queen made him a lord high admiral.
On their 70th wedding anniversary in November 2017, Elizabeth appointed Philip to be a knight grand cross of the Royal Victorian Order for his services to the sovereign.
The couple celebrated their last wedding anniversary together, their 73rd, on Nov. 20, 2020.
In honor of the anniversary, Buckingham Palace released a photo showing the queen and Philip looking at a card made by three of their great-grandchildren, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, the children of Prince William and Duchess Kate.
Elizabeth and Philip are survived by three sons, Princes Charles, Andrew and Edward; one daughter, Princess Anne; eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.