On 9 July 1947, the engagement between Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten was announced. From Buckingham Palace came the announcement, “It is with the greatest pleasure that the King and Queen announce the betrothal of their dearly beloved daughter the Princess Elizabeth, to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, RN.”1
They were married on 20 November 1947, and today would have been their 75th wedding anniversary.
Elizabeth wore a wedding gown designed by Norman Hartnell. It was of “pearl and crystal-encrusted ivory silk satin, with a fifteen-foot train held by the two five-year-old pages, Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent.”2 Her veil was made of tulle and embroidered with lace. It was held in place by Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara. She wore the Queen Anne and Queen Caroline Pearl necklaces, which had been a gift from her parents. The tiara actually snapped as Elizabeth was getting dressed, and the court jeweller had to be rushed to his workshop with a police escort to make sure that the tiara was fixed in time.3
Philip wore his naval uniform, newly adorned with the Garter insignia pinned to his jacket. Shortly before, Philip, who had given up his foreign titles, had been created the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich, and he was to be addressed as “His Royal Highness.”4 He would not be created a British Prince until 1957. 5
Philip left from Kensington Palace with his best man, the Marquess of Milford Haven. Elizabeth went with her father in the Irish State Coach. The ceremony at Westminster Abbey was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher and the Dean of Westminster, Alan Campbell Don. The sermon was delivered by the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett. Two thousand guests were present in the Abbey. Philip’s three sisters with their German husbands were not invited.
After the one-hour service, Elizabeth and Philip led a procession down the nave, which included many foreign royals as well. Elizabeth emerged as “The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh.” They were then taken back to Buckingham Palace in the Glass Coach as crowds lined the route. The newlyweds appeared on the balcony to shouts of, “We want Elizabeth! We want Philip!”6 The following wedding breakfast had just 150 guests, and it took place in the Ball Supper Room. Elizabeth’s father simply toasted to “the bride.” The four-tiered wedding cake was cut with Philip’s Mountbatten sword.7
The wedding was broadcast on the radio to around 200 million people.8
Elizabeth’s wedding bouquet – consisting of white orchids with a sprig of myrtle – was returned to Westminster Abbey and placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Elizabeth and Philip went on to be married until the death of Philip on 9 April 2021.
- Royal: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Robert Lacey p.154
- Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith p.41-42
- The queen’s jewels: the personal collection of Elizabeth II by Leslie Field p.42
- London Gazette
- London Gazette
- Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith p.42
- Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith p.43