What’s the secret of a long and happy marriage?

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh at Broadlands where in November 1947 they spent their wedding night. Photo: Tim Graham/PA Wire

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh at Broadlands where in November 1947 they spent their wedding night. Photo: Tim Graham/PA Wire


As the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrate 70 years together, Courtney Pochin takes a look at their love story and discovers the secrets to a long, strong, and happy marriage.

The Queen and Prince Philip first met in 1934 at the wedding of Philip’s cousin, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, and continued to meet on several further occasions.

Following a specific meeting at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in July 1939, the pair, began to exchange letters. Elizabeth was 13 at the time. When she turned 21, they announced their engagement on July 9 1947.

Their pairing was met with some controversy, due to factors such as Philip’s perceived lack of financial standing and his being foreign-born. However this did not put them off and they were married on November 20 1947, at Westminster Abbey.

As this was at a time when Britain was still recovering from the devastation of the war, The Queen needed ration coupons to buy the material for her wedding dress, made by Norman Hartnell.

Following their wedding, the couple leased Windlesham Moor near Windsor Castle and had their first child, Prince Charles in 1948.

Their second child, Princess Anne was born in 1950.

What The Queen and Prince Philip have said about each other over the years...

“If I am asked what I think about family life after 25 years of marriage, I can answer with equal simplicity and conviction, I am for it.”

During their Silver wedding anniversary speech in 1972.

“He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but 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.”

A tribute made by the Queen in 1997.

“I think the main lesson that we have learnt is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage. It may not be quite so important when things are going well, but it is absolutely vital when the going gets difficult. You can take it from me that the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”

The Duke of Edinburgh speaking on their golden wedding anniversary in 1997.

“The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past 50 years.”

Taken from The Queen’s Golden Jubilee speech in June 2002.

“It’s the secret of a happy marriage to have different interests.”

Said by The Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2006.

We also asked our readers to share their thoughts on what makes a long, successful relationship. Here’s what they had to say:

“Work together, 50/50 in everything! We have been married almost 55 years.”

Pam Shirrell, Lakenham

“Having a brilliant sense of humour is a good start. It’s helped us to laugh off differences instead of having a shouting match!”

Marian Biggs, Suffolk

“We’ve been married 50 years, been through good and bad times but we have stuck it out and we now enjoy our retirement.”

Kathy Adams, Norfolk

“My parents have been happily married 65 years. Dad says it’s down to doing as he’s told!”

Robert Cox, Norwich

“Those that wash up together stay together!”

Martin Waller, Suffolk

“Always let the wife believe she made the decision, which is relatively easy since all you have to do is pick the one you don’t like and sure as the Pope’s catholic, the missus will chose the other one.”

Peter Alan Marshall, Norwich

“Respect each other’s space.”

Nigel Stafford, Trimley

“I’ve been married 29 years and the best tip I can give is take time to listen to each other.”

Gloria Kerslake, Norwich

“Communicate with each other. Respect each other; don’t try and change each other; lots of cuddles; laugh with each other but most of all keep working at it and never sit back on your laurels. We’ve only been together 20 years, but so far, it’s worked. My parents had 52 years together.”

Cate Emmie, Norfolk

“I know lots of couples who have been married 40 years and longer, including my hubby and I. Plus my in-laws were married for 60 years till my father-in-law passed away. Going by all these folk I know I’d say you have to genuinely care about and respect each other and be prepared for some give and take.”

Beverley Bowry, Suffolk

“Married at 18 still going 46 years later. For better or worse springs to mind. You have to work at anything you do to make it a success.”

Sue Oxbury, Norwich

“I’ve been married 28 years and I love my husband to bits. It has not been easy but you have to work at it every day! Respect each other’s wishes whether you like it or not! Hold hands and always tell each other you love one another.”

Claudine Smith, Felixstowe

“Both the husband and the wife have to give 100 percent.”

Pauline A. Clark, Ipswich

“Love, respect and lots of laughter every day! 41 years for us so far.”

Susan Oakley, Norwich

“There is no secret to a long, happy marriage. It’s hard work at times, and not meant for everyone.”

Barbara Carter Hart

“My grandad always told me that the secret to a happy relationship is that the guy should learn 3 phrases, Yes Dear, No Dear and Sorry Dear.”

Robert D Kemp, Ipswich

“Gin and lots of it....chin chin!”

Meryl Phillips, Suffolk

“Don’t just be a partner, be a best friend, listen to them, love and cherish them.”

Sylvia Tibbenham, Suffolk

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