Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip's official engagement was announced on the July 9, 1947, and they were married in Westminster Abbey on the 20th November that same year. This may seem like a quick turnaround, even by 1940s standards, but Elizabeth and Phillip had had a long courtship.
The couple were very distant cousin; second cousins once removed from Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel and third cousins by descent from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. They were both in attendance at the wedding of Phillip's cousin Princess Marina in 1934 and at the coronation of King George VI in 1937. But Phillip and Elizabeth had their first publicised meeting in 1939 when the royal family visited the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
The future Prince was then an 18-year-old cadet at the college when he was introduced to 13 year old Elizabeth, who he entertained "by jumping over some tennis nets". Recalling the day, Elizabeth's governess said “I thought he showed off a good deal", but this teenage high jinx was enough to capture the future monarch's attention, and the pair became pen pals.
In 1948 the couple gave birth to their first child, Prince Charles. 1948 was also the year that Prince Phillip is rumoured to have had an affair with Pat Kirkwood.
Pat Kirkwood, supposed mistress
Pat Kirkwood was a musical comedy star who was, at the time, the highest paid actress on the London stage. She and Prince Phillip met when her boyfriend, society photographer Baron Nahum, introduced them backstage at the Hippodrome Theatre when Pay was headlining the revue Starlight Roof.
Phillip and Pat later dined together in public in London before dancing until dawn at a nightclub - all while Elizabeth was at home, eight months pregnant with Charles. They allegedly met a further six times and corresponded via letter. The contents of these letters are to remain secret until such time as the late Duke of Edinburgh is assigned an official biographer, following his 2021 death.
Rumours that Pat was the Prince's mistress ruined her career. As is protocol, the royal palace would not issue a statement responding to the gossip, so Pat was left to defend herself alone.
“A lady is not normally expected to defend her honour,” Kirkwood told a journalist. “It is the gentleman who should do that. I would have had a happier and easier life if Prince Philip, instead of coming uninvited to my dressing room, had gone home to his pregnant wife on the night in question.”
To Prince Phillip, Pat wrote “… if there had been some support from your direction, the matter could have been squashed years ago, instead of (my) having to battle a sea of sharks single-handed”. The 2014 cabaret show 'Pat Kirkwood Is Angry' focused on the trajectory of her stage career and her inability to escape the scandal.
In 1950 the Queen and Prince Philip's second child was born, Princess Anne. In 1956, Prince Phillip embarked on a world tour aboard the Britannia, a royal yacht, leaving the Queen and two young children behind in England.
Not all plain sailing
Phillip may have left Queen Elizabeth, Charles and Anne behind, but he was certainly not alone. With him onboard the Britannia was Michael Parker, his best friend and equerry (an equerry is an officer of the royal household who attends to members of the royal family). The Britannia was rumoured to be venue for wild bachelor parties and much frivolity, so when the news broke that Michael's wife Eileen was filing for divorce there was an uproar.
The scandal was so great that Michael was forced the resign as Phillip's equerry within 24 hours of the news going public, but even then it was too late. The spotlight was turned on the state of Phillip and Elizabeth's marriage. At this point, Phillip was merely a duke, but soon he found himself hurried given the title of prince. This was he could not be subpoenaed to testify at the Parker's divorce trial.
So significant was the scrutiny the royal couple were under, that the palace issued a rare statement declaring "It is quite untrue that there is any rift between the Queen and the Duke.”
Helene Cordet, supposed mistress
Greek cabaret star and lifelong friend of Phillip, Helene Corbet was also rumoured to be a lover of the prince. She had two children, Max and Louise, whilst separated from her husband and she kept their paternity under wraps.
Prince Phillip was godfather to the children, and even helped to pay for Max's school fees at Gordonstoun, leading many to believe that Max and Louise were in fact his biological children. Helene denied the affair and in 1996 Max publicly addressed the rumours, saying Phillip was not his father.
Did Prince Phillip cheat with Susan Barrantes?
Susan Barrantes was the late mother of Sarah Ferguson, former wife of Prince Phillip's son Prince Andrew. In her book My Husband and I: 70 Years of Royal Marriage, royal biographer Ingrid Seward claims that Susan is just one of a whole list of woman that the prince has had dalliances with.
Seward alleges that TV presenter Katie Boyle, actress Merle Oberon, actress Anna Massey and novelist Daphne du Maurier are all former flings - though there was no concrete evidence. The announcement of Seward's book also coincided with Elizabeth and Phillip's 70th wedding anniversary, with some critics labelling it a mere publicity stunt.
73 years of marriage
Although the tabloid media insisted on giving the rumours of Prince Phillip's infidelity air-time, there is no evidence to suggest any of the affairs took place.
In 1992, an exasperated Prince Phillip acknowledged the scandalous allegations, making his now famous comments about being followed by security so "how the hell could [he] get away with anything like that?"
During her golden wedding anniversary speech in 1997, the Queen said of her husband: "He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, 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."
To mark their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020, the couple released a photo of themselves reading cards from well-wishers but the Queen was heartbroken when he passed away aged 99 in April 2021.
"She described [his death] as having left a huge void in her life, but we, the family, the ones that are closer, are rallying around to make sure that we're there to support her," her son Prince Andrew confessed. The Queen will be buried alongside Philip in the ryoal vault following her own death in 2022.