''In all essentials, exactly the same as it would have been for any cottager who might be married this afternoon''.. That's what the Archbishop of York said to Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten about their marriage as they wed on November 20th 1947 at Westminster Abbey. Plenty raised an eyebrow at that sentiment then and since. But in many ways, Cyril Garbet was right. For any marriage will always come down to the two people who enter into it. It might start in splendour but it relies on the hard work and unending hope of those saying 'I do' if it is to continue in glory. The Queen and Prince Philip, seven decades on, have proved that love really does conquer all.
Today, Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history, and Prince Philip, the longest serving consort, will celebrate and be celebrated for what is a pretty phenomenal achievement. Few couples get to the milestone that is 70 years of marriage. Yes, good health and good care have helped a lot but so has this couple's determination to make their marriage work. They are clearly just as happy in one another's company as they were on that cold November day when they became husband and wife. Their affection for one another and rock solid bond is a huge part of the modern Monarchy's success. It has been a constant in the evolution of the House of Windsor and a solid foundation that has kept it stable even when crises began to threaten it.
To mark The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh's 70th Wedding Anniversary, new photographic portraits have been released worldwide. pic.twitter.com/Jl6elndhFe— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 18, 2017
Royal marriages don't have to succeed. It's perhaps the greatest irony of Elizabeth and Philip's long and successful marriage that their children have, sometimes, struggled so hard to find matrimonial happiness themselves. There is an assumption that once a monarch or sovereign in waiting has said 'I do' they are bound to their spouse for all time. We know that isn't true, Regal marriages fall apart. For one to succeed in the way that this one has is a true achievement.
The marriage that began on November 20th 1947 has allowed both partners to follow the paths they believe to be right. The Queen has made no secret of the support she takes from her husband, calling him famously ''quite simply my strength and my stay all these years''. Philip, in turn, has been a perfect consort, always one step behind but with enough ideas and energy to make a difference in the areas that matter. Elizabeth and Philip haven't just smiled and waved all these years. The Duke of Edinburgh has become renowned for work that has supported young people, helped the environment and promoted arts and culture. The Queen has transformed herself from an unexpected heiress to the very model of a modern monarch. Neither could have been what they are without the other.
Their marriage also clearly brings them great personal joy. The delight they take in each other, the pride they feel for one another is clear for all to see. Despite their sometimes frosty reputations, they also clearly adore their children, grand children and great grandchildren. They have shaped a royal family for the 21st century and continue to be its mainstay even now.
Their marriage has clearly brought joy to them and to those that they love. It has provided inspiration to many who only watch from afar. And, despite being a dynastic necessity and a public property in some ways, it is still clearly first and foremost the promise made between two people in Westminster Abbey all those years ago. Cottagers is a word from another time. The world has moved on - it is bound to, seven decades have passed. But the reality of life remains the same. Like every other couple marrying that day they have faced joy and sadness and learned to support one another through it all. For marriage is growing comfortable with one another, learning to walk away from the annoyances, loving when it is the hardest thing to do. The Archbishop of York was right about this one and the couple he said it to have shown that and then some. Congratulations to them, now and always. Their marriage is a celebration we should all treasure.
Photo credit: Royal Family Twitter and Matt Holyoak/ Camera Press.