• 20:34
  • 25.05.2020
How Queen will mark amazing milestone

How Queen will mark amazing milestone

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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will mark their 70th wedding anniversary privately on November 20, after an extraordinary romance lived almost entirely in the public spotlight.
The Queen, 91, and Prince Philip, 96, will celebrate with a quiet dinner for close friends and family at their home, Windsor Castle, eschewing the thanksgiving services, balcony appearances and state banquets that accompanied their 50th, and 60th wedding anniversaries.
The pair, who married in 1947, are the only British royal couple ever to reach their platinum wedding anniversary.
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They married when then-Princess Elizabeth Windsor was 21 years old and then-Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten was 26. Five years later, King George VI died and his daughter Elizabeth became Queen.
She has since served 65 years on the throne, making her the world’s longest-serving living monarch, and Philip, given the title the Duke of Edinburgh the night before the wedding, the longest-serving Queen’s consort.
The Royal Mint and Royal Mail have produced commemorative stamps and coins to mark the occasion, but there will be no procession down the Mall, or opportunity for the public to acknowledge the milestone. Buckingham Palace confirmed no public events were planned.
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The Times of London’s royal reporter, Valentine Low, said the royal couple “don’t want too much fuss.’’
“Philip has already taken a step back from public life,’’ he said. “And there’s been so many things lately, jubilees, 90th birthdays.’’ Low said the Queen had to be encouraged to perform a public event when she became the longest-serving monarch in February. “The wedding thing is about them personally and while she will do things relating to (the Commonwealth), she is less likely to do stuff that is for them personally,’’ he said.
Queen Elizabeth’s former press secretary of more than 10 years, Dickie Arbiter, told News Corp the wedding anniversary would be a quiet family affair.
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“Immediate family, probably a sit down dinner, very private,’’ he said.
By contrast, the royal wedding 70 years ago was a grand affair set against the backdrop of post-World War 2 rationing, and royal courtiers agonised over how the public would react to a lavish royal celebration. After much hand-wringing, it was decided the heiress to the throne should have a fairytale wedding, and meticulous plans were made.
The Queen’s subjects from around the Commonwealth rallied to help out, shipping butter from New Zealand and rum from Barbados. Australian Girl Guides pooled their pocket money to buy the sugar, spices and dried fruits needed for the four-tiered wedding cake, and later received a slice in the mail as a thankyou.
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The company that made the original cake, McVitie’s, in north London, recreated the exquisite creation for an ITV documentary this month on the wedding, donating the final version — all 226 kilograms of it, standing 2.7m tall, to war veterans at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.
The royal couple met when Elizabeth was just 13 years old and corresponded by letter for years until Philip, a prince of Greece and Denmark, proposed marriage to the King’s oldest daughter in 1946, after the war ended. The pair had both served — Elizabeth as a truck and ambulance driver and mechanic in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, while Philip fought with the British Navy.
King George granted them permission to wed with several provisos — including that they keep their engagement a secret until Elizabeth turned 21.
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Philip was also to give up his Greek citizenship, his Greek Orthodox religion, his Greek and Danish royal titles and he was to use his British relatives’ name, Mountbatten, instead of his father’s family name of Schleswig-Holstein- Sonderburg-Glücksburg.
Elizabeth turned 21 in April 1947 and the engagement was announced in July, prompting celebrations in a bomb-scarred country which was still rebuilding after the war, and was desperate for a happy distraction.
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The country pitched in providing ration coupons for the young princess to make her dress — she returned them all, but needed her own coupons to find enough silk for the dress, which was designed under top secret conditions by Norman Hartnell, who ordered his assistants to sleep next to his creation every night to ensure it came to no harm. There was drama the morning of the wedding when the princess’s tiara snapped, but the Crown jeweller was on standby and whisked it off to the workroom for repairs.
The couple married at 11.30am in Westminster Abbey in an elaborate celebration attended by several thousand guests including royalty from across Europe. Three of Philip’s four sisters, who had married German princes with connections to the Nazi party, were not in attendance, it being considered too close to the war for such an invitation to be extended.
Elizabeth had eight bridesmaids including her younger sister Princess Margaret, and arrived at the Abbey in a horse-drawn carriage with her father King George from Buckingham Palace, while Philip arrived with his attendants from Kensington Palace.
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Hundreds of thousands of people crammed the streets to see the procession, and 200 million more listened via BBC radio.
The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, said “millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of colour on the hard road we have to travel.’’
Some of the charities the Queen is involved with are using the platinum wedding anniversary as an opportunity to raise such much-needed money for their projects, including Cruse Bereavement Care, of which the Queen is patron.
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The charity asked Australian tenor and West End musical theatre star Daniel Koek to record a classical love song to the royal couple.
Mr Koek, 36, collaborated with British soprano Joanna Forest and Russian composer Olga Thomas to record the Royal Platinum Love Song, backed by a 72-piece symphony orchestra.
“I think the royal couple celebrating their 70th year of marriage is such an amazing achievement and entirely deserving of being recognised with such a marvellous song,’’ he told News Corp.
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“I’m obviously privileged and honoured to have recorded the Royal Platinum Love Song … and I’m so happy to support such a wonderful charity.’’
Mr Koek, who has been performing in London for 15 years including most recently in the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, was hand-picked by Ms Thomas for the recording.
Ms Thomas has composed several classical scores for the royal family over the years to commemorate special events, including for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, which was also held in Westminster Abbey.
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The first three years of Elizabeth and Philip’s married life was spent in Malta while he continued his military career, and Prince Charles was born in 1948, followed by Princess Anne in 1950.
But on February 9, 1952, as the pair travelled to Australia to represent the ailing King George at a Commonwealth event, word reached them while they were in Kenya that the monarch had died.
They flew quickly back to the UK where the Princess became the Queen — and their life changed immediately to one of full-time public service.
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The young Queen, just 25, took on tutors and advisers and dedicated herself full-time to the role,travelling the Commonwealth, reading her parliamentary papers diligently, and attending thousands of events, speeches and state dinners.
Philip, an athletic and proud man now reduced to walking three steps behind his wife in the role of consort, chafed under the restrictions, and became known for a series of famous gaffes, such as telling British students that if they stayed in China too long they’d get “slitty eyes.”
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Yet the pair maintained a tight bond, never showing any sign in public of any tension. They had two more children — Prince Andrew (1960) and Prince Edward (1964) — and over the decades supported each other through public and private hardships.
This included the breakdowns of the marriages of three of their children — Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson — through one of the most challenging times of all, when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris in 1997.
Neither the Queen nor Prince Philip are given to public outpourings of affection, but the Queen gave a speech on their 50th wedding anniversary in 2007 which gave the clearest hint of the strength of the relationship between the pair.
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“All too often, I fear, Prince Philip has had to listen to me speaking,’’ she said from the lectern, as Prince Philip looked on from the audience.
“Frequently we have discussed my intended speech beforehand and, as you will imagine, his views have been expressed in a forthright manner.
“He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.
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“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.’’
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