History

Elizabeth II's wedding

20 November 1947

Princess Elizabeth's wedding to Philip Mountbatten took place at Westminster Abbey and was broadcast to 200 million radio listeners around the world. After the ceremony, the pair waved to large crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.


Photo: Princess Elizabeth leaves Westminster Abbey in London, with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, after their wedding ceremony, 20 November 1947. (Press Association)

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More information about: Elizabeth II's wedding

How they met

Princess Elizabeth, born 21 April 1926, was the first child of Albert, Duke of York, and his wife, formerly Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

The abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, in December 1936 meant her father became king and she became heir.

Elizabeth was educated at home. In 1940, she and her sister Margaret were evacuated to Windsor Castle to escape the Blitz. Their parents remained at London's Buckingham Palace - a promise made to the nation at the start of World War II.

Philip Mountbatten was born 10 June 1921 on the Greek island of Corfu, the youngest child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. His early years were spent in France, but he came to England in 1928.

He attended Gordonstoun boarding school in Scotland, after which he joined the Royal Navy and saw active service in WWII.

Elizabeth and Philip were distant cousins, and first met at a wedding in 1934. After meeting again in 1939, they began to exchange letters. The pair became secretly engaged in 1946, but the formal engagement was delayed until Elizabeth turned 21 in April 1947.

The wedding day

Elizabeth and Philip were married at Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947, in front of 2,000 invited guests. The ceremony was broadcast on radio, to 200 million listeners worldwide.

The wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell - a duchesse satin bridal gown with motifs of star lilies and orange blossoms. Princess Elizabeth had to use ration coupons to obtain the material.

More than 2,500 wedding presents arrived from around the world, and 10,000 telegrams of congratulations.

The couple went to Buckingham Palace after the ceremony where they waved from the balcony to large crowds. They spent their wedding night in Broadlands, Hampshire, the home of Philip's uncle, Earl Mountbatten. The rest of their honeymoon was spent at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate.

Life after the wedding

The couple's first child, Prince Charles, was born in 1948 and Princess Anne arrived in 1950.

In February 1952, King George VI died and Elizabeth, his daughter, immediately became Queen. In June 1953, her coronation was held at Westminster Abbey, televised by the BBC to a worldwide audience of millions.

Prince Andrew was born in 1960, and four years later came Prince Edward.

For decades, the Queen has been performing public duties including ceremonies, receptions and visits. She has also supported numerous charities, and encouraged public and voluntary service. Weekly audiences with prime ministers have been held throughout her reign.

The Duke of Edinburgh abandoned his Royal Navy ambitions in order to take on more public duties and support the Queen. In 1956 he launched the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Prince Philip has earned a reputation for speaking his mind, which has sometimes landed him in trouble. Prince William said in 2004 that his grandfather "will tell me something I don't want to hear and doesn't care if I get upset about it. He knows it is the right thing to say".

In 2007 the Queen became the first British monarch to celebrate a diamond wedding anniversary.

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