British Royal Wedding Look-Back: Elizabeth II and Philip

  April 26, 2011 at 6:00 am by

The fifth part of the TRF Blog’s ‘British Royal Wedding Look-Back’ focuses on the marriage of Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, the grandparents of Friday’s groom, Prince William. Previous parts have focused on the weddings of Edward VII and Alexandra, George V and Mary, George VI and Elizabeth and Edward VIII and Wallis.

View the full image at The Daily Mail

The wedding of the heiress presumptive, Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth (daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), to Lt. Phillip Mountbatten on a rainy and windy November morning was greeted with great joy from a British public that was still dealing with the emotional and economic battle scars of World War II, as well as continued rationing and an unusually harsh winter of 1946-47.

The couple married on November 20, 1947 in Westminster Abbey in a ceremony that was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London. It was the first major British royal event since the coronation of the bride’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. Lt. Phillip Mountbatten, born His Royal Highness Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark, was the son of Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Andrew of Greece. Serving in the British Royal Navy during World War II, but mindful of the burgeoning romance between Elizabeth and Phillip, inquiries were made regarding Phillip’s naturalization. It wasn’t until the Greek monarchy was restored (following a plebiscite) that the Prince was able to surrender his rank and titles in the Royal Houses of Greece and Denmark. Phillip’s naturalization was announced on March 20, 1947 in the London Gazette. The article also stated that he was to be known henceforth as Lt. Phillip Mountbatten. The night before the wedding, King George VI, issued Letters of Patent which bestowed on Phillip the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and created him Duke of Edinburgh, Baron Greenwich and Earl of Merioneth in addition to being made a Royal Highness.

The royal houses which attended the wedding were Denmark, Yugoslavia, Greece, Romania, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Sweden. In fact, King Michael of Romania met his soon-to-be wife, Princess Anne of Bourbon Parma, at the wedding. Not invited were the bridegroom’s two sisters, Princesses Theodora and Margarita, who were married to German Princes. For some, two years of peace was not a long enough time for the political climate to move on from the horrors of World War II. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor also did not receive an invitation.

Like most brides of her day, Princess Elizabeth had been saving her clothing coupons for wedding attire but she did receive an extra 200 coupons from the British government. In addition, many loyal and sympathetic Brits had contributed their coupons to the Princess Elizabeth dress allowance. Gestures such as this were acknowledged by the Princess, who returned the coupons (it was illegal to give away clothing coupons) along with a note of thanks. The dress designed by Norman Hartnell fulfilled expectations of what a fairy Princess should wear on her wedding day: an ivory satin gown with garlands of York roses entwined with stars, ears of corn and orange blossom all picked out in raised pearls and crystal. This pattern was repeated in satin on the long silk tulle Court train. Her “something borrowed” from her mother, Queen Elizabeth, was the King George III Fringe Tiara. While preparing for the ceremony, the tiara actually snapped, but the court jeweler was able to fix the tiara in time for the ceremony. The bridal couple signed their registry using a sold gold quill pen (a wedding gift from the Chartered Institute of Secretaries). The bridegroom wore his naval uniform along with his Garter Star with the Star of the Order of the Redeemer.

The bridal attendants included Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Hon. Margaret Elphinstone, Lady Pamela Mountbatten, Lady Mary Cambridge, Lady Carolyn Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lady Elizabeth Lambert and Miss Diana Bowes-Lyon. The bridesmaid’s dresses were also designed by Hartnell and were inspired by works of art in the Royal Collections. Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent were page boys. The best man was the Marquess of Milford Haven. The couple received a variety of wedding gifts which were displayed at St. James Palace.

Following the death of King George VI, Princess Elizabeth ascended the throne as Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. In 1957, she issued Letters Patent which created her husband a Prince once again. Following her accession, there was some discussion on whether the House of Windsor or the House of Mountbatten reigned on the British throne. Her grandmother, Queen Mary whose husband King George V was the founder of the House of Windsor, strongly felt that the name should remain the same, she was supported in this endeavor by Winston Churchill. The Queen then issued a royal proclamation stating that the House of Windsor reigned to the disappointment of her husband. Following the death of Queen Mary and the resignations of Churchill, the Queen in 1960 issued an Order-in-Council which stated that the male descendants of the Duke and the Queen who were not styled Royal Highnesses or titled as Prince or Princess were to have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.

Elizabeth and Phillip are the parents of The Prince of Wales (Charles), the Princess Royal (Anne), the Duke of York (Andrew), and the Earl of Wessex (Edward). In addition they are the grandparents of the next royal groom, William, as well as Peter, Zara, Henry, Beatrice, Eugenie, Louise and James.

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