How they met
Now married for more than 60 years, Queen Elizabeth II first met her future husband Prince Philip when she was just 13 years old at the wedding of his cousin, Princess Marina of Greece. It was love at first sight for the young royal, and she remained devoted to the handsome 18-year-old, writing him letters throughout her teens.
In 1946, the couple became secretly engaged – a controversial decision since Elizabeth's family were opposed to her marrying at such a young age. But in April 1947, her father, King George VI, finally gave them permission to wed, and Philip gave up his Greek citizenship and title and took on the surname Mountbatten. With news of their engagement already leaked to the press, the happy couple officially announced the news on July 9, 1947.
Philip reportedly proposed to his bride-to-be during a walk around the grounds of Balmoral, presenting Elizabeth with a platinum engagement ring with a large square diamond at its centre and smaller diamonds on either side.
More than 2,000 guests were in attendance as Elizabeth and Philip became husband and wife at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. The first royal festivity since the end of World War II, the wedding was celebrated across the country. Eight bridesmaids and two page boys took part in the ceremony, which was officiated by both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York. The groom presented his princess with a wedding band of Welsh gold to wear alongside her engagement ring.
In order to make her wedding dress, Elizabeth famously saved up ration cards to purchase the material needed. The beautiful gown was made of ivory duchess satin and decorated with around 10,000 white pearls imported from America, silver thread and tulle embroidery. Her bridal ensemble also included a 15-foot patterned full court train attached at the shoulders, and a silk tulle veil held in place by a tiara lent to the princess by her mother. On her feet, she wore ivory duchess satin high heels, embellished with silver and pearls.
Elizabeth's bridal bouquet was made up of white orchids and a sprig of myrtle – from the bush grown from the myrtle in Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet. The following day it was laid on the grave of the unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey.
After the wedding ceremony, a celebratory lunch was held at Buckingham Palace where guests were presented with posies of white heather and myrtle as favours. The wedding cake was a grand affair, standing at nine-foot high, weighing 500 pounds and featuring four tiers. Made from ingredients received from the Australian Girl Guides, the cake was cut using Philip's sword. One layer was kept until the christening of Prince Charles and another was sent back to Australia by way of thanks.
Husband and wife honeymooned in Hampshire, at the historic Broadlands house owned by Philip's uncle, Lord Mountbatten, and at Birkhill on the Balmoral estate. Almost exactly one year after exchanging vows, Elizabeth and Philip welcomed their first baby, Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor at Buckingham Palace on November 14, 1948. And less than five years later, Elizabeth was proclaimed queen.