Elizabeth & Philip: Love and Duty

Written by Ben Felsenburg

Elizabeth & Philip: Love and Duty (Monday, BBC1, 9pm) celebrates the glorious occasion of the Platinum Anniversary of the wedding between HM The Queen and her consort, but, as Kirsty Young discovers, the story goes back even further than that incredible 70-year span. It was on a rainy day in July 1939 that the young Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret, were assigned a devastatingly handsome cadet to be their escort around the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. From that very first encounter with Philip Mountbatten sprang what Young rightly calls ‘one of the greatest and most enduring love stories of our time’.

Since Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952, he has ever dutifully been just a few steps behind history’s most widely travelled monarch, who two decades ago on their Golden Anniversary declared with fulsome affection: ‘He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.’ 

But this is also the story of other couples who wed in 1947, as the nation began to pick itself up from the devastation of the Second World War, and are now joyfully marking their 70th anniversaries. Among them are Amy and Tom. She, he says, was a ‘vision of loveliness’, working behind the shop counter. Her first memory of the young man with whom she’s gone on to share her life?

‘I think it took about the third time he came in for him to ask me out,’ she recalls with a gleeful smile.