A Royal and Platinum Bond Only Death Could Break

In 2013, a Western Australian couple, Joe and Rose Zekulich, celebrated their 82nd wedding anniversary. They would have received the customary telegram from their Sovereign. In fact they would have been receiving one every year since their platinum anniversary in 2001. Today the Sovereign has earned herself a self-congratulatory telegram: it is seventy years since she and Prince Philip were married. 

On a cold day, November 20, 1947, the 26-year-old groom had woken at Kensington Palace, where he had stayed overnight with his grandmother, the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, and asked if tea and coffee could be taken out to the photographers who stood in waiting. This was the dawn of a long and mutually snappy relationship. Philip had much to be chipper about. The day before, his prospective father-in-law had given him the Garter and created him Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich. As the King put it, “It’s a great deal to give a man all at once, but I know Philip understands his new responsibilities on his marriage to Lilibet.”

First published at Quadrant Online in November 2017

Meanwhile at Buckingham Palace, the 21-year-old bride told her governess, Marian Crawford (‘Crawfie’) she had to keep pinching herself. “I can’t believe it’s really happening.” It had not all been plain sailing but from her first significant encounter with Special Entry Cadet Mountbatten in July 1939, when the Princess and her parents visited Dartmouth College, there was no doubt of her feelings, as well-guarded as they were. He made quite an impression, certainly among the Princess’s circle who would sing, “Oh come to my arms, thou bundle of charms, Philip Mountbatten RN”.

The Queen Mother had a preference for home-grown blue-bloods (after all, George VI had chosen from that pool) and Her Majesty did not take to her daughter’s handsome, homeless, heirless suitor. Being lumbered with the embarrassing moniker of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksberg was not helpful. But the Princess was resolute.

Although Elizabeth did not need it; and Philip never sought (but quietly suffered) it, his Uncle Dicky, Lord Louis Mountbatten, found time to advance his nephew’s cause, despite being the Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia. In preparation for his fate as consort, Philip shed his four surnames for the Anglicised version of his mother’s family, the Battenburgs. He was also naturalised; but this proved completely unnecessary for a descendant of Sophia, the Electress of Hanover. Once he converted from Greek Orthodox to embrace his fiancée’s Anglican Faith, Philip was as entitled as any royal groom.

After the tragedy, sacrifice and gloom of the war, this ceremony was to be ‘a flash of colour on the hard road we have to travel’. Rationing still hung about every household; yet among the wedding presents were dozens of pairs of silk stockings. The Mountbattens gave a cinema for Clarence House; Shang Kai-shek a set of Chinese porcelain; the Aga Khan a thoroughbred filly. A woman from Brooklyn sent a turkey because ‘they have nothing to eat in England.’ The Government of Queensland had the same idea with its gift – five hundred cases of tinned pineapple. The bridal dress had absorbed three thousand coupons. Its maker, Hardy Amies, had to convince the media that the silkworms sacrificed to make the gown were not just Chinese but nationalist Chinese silkworms.

The Irish state coach bore the bride and her father, dressed in the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet, processed along the Mall towards Westminster through crowds in places almost fifty deep. Sir Michael Duff wrote, ‘The King looked unbelievably beautiful; like an early French King and HRH the Bride a dream.’ Inside the Abbey were some 3000 guests but not one of the groom’s three sisters. Three of his sister Sophie’s brothers-in-law were still to be denazified. Their mother, Alice (Princess Andrew of Greece) wrote a 22-page account of the day for her family; and two cousins among the guests, Marina, the Duchess of Kent and Queen Frederica of Greece, were despatched to the Continent to share this with their accounts of The Day with their shunned kin.

The bride promised to obey; but really the groom was the one who would be required to submit; not as husband but as consort. His first sacrifice began that day. In deference to his bride’s concern about its effect on her father, Philip gave up smoking overnight.

liz phil wedding

As the couple set off from Buckingham Palace after the wedding breakfast, all three parents were in tears. The course was set for the rest of their lives together Accompanying them on their honeymoon were their detective, their driver, a footman, John the Duke’s valet, and Bobo MacDonald, the Princess’s omnipresent dresser.

Within five years, the happy-go-lucky life of a naval couple was over and Elizabeth was Queen, finding herself  — in the words of biographer, Gyles Brandreth — “married not only to Philip but also to those infinitely more demanding spouses, Britain, the Commonwealth.:” It is extraordinary to think that had Elizabeth’s parents enjoyed her longevity, they would have celebrated their platinum anniversary in 1993.

Philip carved out a life and career in parallel. Yet his mantra was, and remained, that his role was to support the Queen. At every key moment in her reign, he was beside her. Well, three paces behind her – but the fact is that he was always there. And as parents of an heir, a Princess, and a decade later, two more Princes, the royal relationship was soon established – while she wears the Crown; he wears the trousers.

Philip’s irascibility more than anything highlights his inability to suffer fools – a fundamental requirement for a royal whose life is full of brief encounters, walk-abouts, patronages and passings-out. He stays alive and interested in the endless audiences, line-ups, and crowd encounters by shaking up and challenging those he meets. He does not have his wife’s extraordinary control. Examples of his interaction with crowds are legion but one of the best is an encounter on a visit to Australia where Prince Philip saw a woman surrounded by children. He asked her who the children were. The woman answered that all fourteen children were hers. The Duke said he was going to find the Queen so she could give the woman’s husband a knighthood. “Oh, no,” the woman replied, “He won’t wear one.”

The union of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh has been an inspiring double act – a couple who make each other complete; a complementary union that has not just endured, but thrived.

Mark McGinness is a frequent contributor to Quadrant

11 thoughts on “A Royal and Platinum Bond Only Death Could Break

  • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

    An interesting, warm-and-fuzzy, enjoyable article. It almost makes one forget the Duke’s involvement with globalism (Bilderberg Group), including his reported comment (paraphrased) that if reincarnation is true, he hopes to be reborn as a devastating virus and kill off the excess billions of humans in order to ensure the sustainability of life on Earth.

  • lloveday says:

    Joe and Rose Zekulich had “their platinum anniversary in 2003”, then 10 years later, in 2013, “celebrated their 82nd wedding anniversary”.

    Didn’t time fly for them!

  • Fookes says:

    He happened to visit one of the many British army camps in West Germany in the 1980’s and asked my brother (a WO1 in REME) if he could drive one of the Chieftan tanks around. My brother duly obliged and sat with him for a very enjoyable few minutes. Several years later my brother was on duty again when he visited. After inspecting the troops he walked over to my brother, addressed him by his first name and asked how he was doing. Wonderful recollection and always popular with the men, he would compare very favourably with any of our current western leaders….

  • Wyndham Dix says:

    Robust masculine common sense…in public life today little more than a distant memory.
    Christopher Booker: The time Prince Philip wrote to me in praise of my views on global warming (The Sunday Telegraph, 6 August 2017)
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/05/time-prince-philip-wrote-praise-views-global-warming-marked/?mc_cid=6e2787f539&mc_eid=55da42f984 (Apologies; paywalled)
    “Like countless others, I have a personal reason for wishing to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh as he finally steps back at the age of 96…”
    “…I was…startled and delighted to have a long, thoughtful and sympathetic letter from (DoE)…”
    “…he has represented those values of robust masculine common sense which in the post-war years when I grew up were taken for granted but which in public life today are little more than a distant memory…”
    As you were (if only).

  • Harry Lee says:

    And Australian “Republicans” are salivating.
    Australian “Republicans” are ignorant and/or malicious persons.
    They have put around the idea that Australians will be free from tyranny or something if Australia can elect its own Head of State, by some method or other.
    What utterly malign and idiotic anti-Realism.
    The selection of Head of State is a trivial matter alongside three other very, very important matters, viz:
    1. The Senate is badly conformed -it is not set up to oversee the long-term development and defence of the nation -as an upper house in a republic must be.
    2. There are many ambiguities in the distribution of responsibilities in key areas of admin between the Federal and State/Territory levels, and within State/Territory levels -and there is no bi-partisan, concerted effort to fix that up.
    3. And screaming at us:
    Our Constitution does not provide for, indeed prohibits, the defence of the nation against:
    – marxist, Big Statist, anti-free enterprise forces; nor defence against censorship that covers up anti-Westernist parasitism and anti-Westernist infiltration of our institutions; nor defence against anti-Westernist/anti-White/anti-free enterprise propaganda channeled by the tax-payer funded ABC and SBS; nor defence against censorship and the ways tax-payer money is spent on non-White versus White violence and other criminality, abuse of funds by non-Whites and anti-Christian immigrants and refugees provided by White nett tax-payers; nor defence against the dumb-downs in the education systems; nor defence against anti-heterosexual/anti-nuclear family forces; nor against foreign and transnational anti-Westernist political and/or anti-Westernist religious forces now infiltrating our institutions while funded by Australian nett tax-payers; nor against anyone with a grievance/resentment about the conditions of their early life and/or that they made bad choices and got themselves into sexual encounters they later feel guilty about and now demand insist the other party suffers for.
    Australia is The Dummy Country for quite a few reasons -the above are some of them.
    Proper Australians could still save themselves, but it would require many sacrifices.

  • Harry Lee says:

    Time to get smart and tough.
    Do all necessary to bring in five million Poms -all from the upper third of capability and work ethic, in all walks and stations of life.
    Ten million if it can be done.
    Plenty of English can see the destructive effects of the entrance into England of Blacks and Muslims from everywhere. And the negatives are worsening by the day. Terrible violence and other criminality, in addition to increasingly massive burdens on White nett tax-payers.
    A New Proper Australia could be instituted by bringing in many new Poms, and many similar high capability/high productivity folk from the European continent.
    Multiculturalism is obviously a cover for anti-Europeanism -and therefore is evil.
    Too many White Australians are ignorant of the great boons that would derive from bringing in high quality Europeans -and that includes Poms.
    Low-quality White Australians -mostly in the ALP-unions-Greens, but some too in the Libs- with their insanely mistaken beliefs about multiculturalism and their anti-English groupthink have just about destroyed our prospects to be a flourishing, powerful nation with an internal peaceful civic order.
    But Smart Tough White Australians could make the effort to save the place.
    Bring in ten million Europeans, who have high-level capabilties and wish to build a new nation.

  • Helmond says:


    Bring in 5 million Poms, but only the good ones. You surely can’t be serious. But if you are, give us a hint about how this could be achieved. “Do all necessary” doesn’t tell us much.

  • Harry Lee says:

    Helmond, thank you for your question.
    I am serious that my suggestion is essential to establishing a New Proper Australia.
    (And there are many good Continental Europeans to bring in too.)
    Now, the implementation of this serious/sound suggestion requires that 10% of current Proper Australians to spend a lot of their own money and their own time, for the remainder of lives, in doing “all necessary”.
    Let us start with that challenge and then iterate with questions about the nature of “all necessary”.
    I think much of it would involve that 10% getting smart, tough and resilient in dealing with the local politics in Lib and Nat branches-
    -and in funding a new anti-Leftist multi-media platform constituted and managed to inform, educate and motivate another forty plus percent of the populace -to identify, support and push a new tougher, smarter, wiser generation of anti-leftist Lib and Nat politicians.
    Cannot be done you say?
    Well, that was said by many critics of the White people/families who founded and pioneered Australia and the later generations of Whites who sacrificed mightily in the World Wars.
    That’s the scale and nature of it.
    So yes, Australia is likely to collapse.
    One thing that might help delay this collapse is that the USA, for now, has strong reasons to retain Australia as part of the Western Alliance.

  • Harry Lee says:

    Bemartin39 -now consider the implications of the hysteria promoted by the UN/IPCC, the many thousands of careerist, “scientists” chasing research funding, naive virtue-lusting idealists, leftist politicians, anti-Westernists, and money-grubbers:
    To implement the Green Revolution envisaged by that alliance, the population of the Earth will have to be reduced to at most 50% and perhaps even just 10% of its current levels.
    Which 10% and who will decide?
    (The late Duke of Edinburgh often used sarcastic humour to encourage people to wake up and deal with Reality. Did not work of course, but there it is.)

  • whitelaughter says:

    Helmond, there are multiple ways to ensure we only get the good ones, but an obvious starting point is to offer automatic citizenship to anyone who has served in the British military for ~5 years or so.

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    “His first sacrifice began that day. In deference to his bride’s concern about its effect on her father, Philip gave up smoking overnight.” … so this is thou …

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