When the Duke of Edinburgh passed away recently, it marked not just the end of a royal era but the final chapter of a royal marriage which had lasted more than seven decades.
Far surpassing the marriages of most, including three of the couple’s children, the Queen’s union with Prince Philip outlasted the leadership of more than 170 Prime Ministers across the Commonwealth, including 14 in the UK alone.
"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,” the Queen famously remarked during celebrations of the couple’s 50th anniversary.
So, what lessons can be learned from a marriage that not only stood the test of time, but became a source of strength and security under the most intrusive of spotlights?
Although Prince Philip came from royal lineage, many in the British establishment looked upon him as an outsider. His sisters’ marriages to German officers did little to help the perception in a post-war Britain.
Still, the couple’s courtship was a long one firmly rooted in friendship. Princess Elizabeth first met Philip in 1939 when she was just 13 and he was an 18-year-old naval cadet.
The two exchanged letters during WWII before a year-long courtship that culminated in their marriage in 1947.
If rumour is to be believed those first years of marriage had their fair share of ups and downs as Prince Philip sought to eke out a role after his wife became Queen in 1953.
With no set constitutional role, he was forced to forge his own path, and ultimately, he did it with distinction.
In addition to being the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’, he closely guarded her appointments, offered her counsel, stepped up as patron for over 780 charities, and attended over 22,000 solo royal engagements.
While the Queen has rarely, if ever, put a foot wrong in public, Prince Philip attracted much commentary over the years for his often-insensitive public gaffes.
While she was famous for her love of horses and a fondness for corgis, he was known as a man of vim and vigour, to whom sporting prowess came naturally.
He played polo until well into his 50s, only to start competitive carriage driving. He was a conservationist long before it became popular, and actively championed causes for young people including the incredible legacy that is the Duke of Edinburgh awards.
Other than The Crown, there is little to indicate what transpired behind the closely guarded palace doors of the Queen and Prince Philip’s marriage.
However, it is fair to assume the couple played to each other’s strengths as part of a partnership which ultimately lasted 73 years, survived numerous crises, and was central to a monarchy that continues to this day.
The Queen may bear the crown, but Prince Philip was the loyal, staid and quiet force behind the scenes who helped alleviate the weight of it.
As he pledged at her coronation, he was her ‘liege man of life and limb’ – a humble, fiercely intelligent man who carved out an irreplaceable legacy as the longest servicing consort to a British sovereign.