The Queen & Prince Philip Fell in Love as Teenagers—Here’s the Story of How They Met

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip
Photo: AP Photo.

The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Majesty were married for over seven decades until his death in April 2021. All these years later, their long union begs the question: How did the Queen and Prince Philip meet?

Well, their royal love story started when a young Princess Elizabeth and Philip, once the Prince of Greece and Denmark, crossed paths at a family event. Elizabeth was only eight years old at the time, whereas Philip was 12, when they both were in attendance at a wedding between their relatives—Elizabeth’s uncle, Prince George, was married to Philip’s cousin, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, as per (However, Elizabeth and Philip were already distant family members before the wedding, as they are both the great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria.) Being kids, there were no signs of romance at the time—but it wouldn’t be the last time they encountered each other.

It wasn’t until years later in 1939 when Elizabeth and Philip sparked up a courtship. The future queen was on a visit with her parents and sister, Princess Margaret, to the Royal Naval College when she came across Philip playing tennis, and as they say, the rest was history. At 13, Elizabeth developed a crush on Philip, who was a cadet at 18 at the time, after seeing how high he could jump over tennis nets. “How high he can jump,” a smitten Elizabeth said, according to Marion Crawford’s The Little Princesses .

Prince Philip later confirmed their first meeting took place at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, telling royal biographer Basil Boothroyd that hanging out with the Queen and her sister was a most “amusing experience.” From there, the pair struck up a correspondence with each other, exchanging letters for years after. “We used to correspond occasionally. You see it’s difficult to visualize. I suppose if I’d just been a casual acquaintance it would all have been frightfully significant,” he told Boothroyd. “But if you’re related—I mean I knew half the people here, they were all relations—it isn’t so extraordinary to be on kind of family-relationship terms with somebody.”

“You don’t necessarily have to think about marriage,” Philip explained, but noted that “one thing led to another.” He said, “I suppose I began to think about it seriously, oh, let me think now, when I got back in ’46 and went to Balmoral.” Back from the war, that is. From January 1940 to the end of World War II, Philip served with the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean and the Pacific.

By 1947, it was decided that Philip and Elizabeth would marry—and the nuptials took place by the year’s end. In February of that year, Philip renounced his Greek royal title and adopted his mother’s last name, Mountbatten, as a newly naturalized British subject. Five months later, in July 1947, Buckingham Palace announced that he and the future queen were engaged. In November, the pair were wed at Westminster Abbey, and remained married for nearly 74 years before his death at the age of 99 in April 2021.

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