Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Revealed: Why the Queen & Prince Philip hid secret engagement for one year

They reportedly got engaged in 1946

queen philip

After 17 months apart, Queen Elizabeth II was finally reunited with her beloved Prince Philip inside the Royal Vault of St George's Chapel. The team at HELLO! takes a look at the royal couple's real-life love story, and discovers why they were forced to postpone their engagement and subsequent wedding.

MORE: The Queen's wedding ring features top-secret message from Prince Philip

 Her Majesty was just 13 years old when she first met the 18-year-old Prince of Greece and Denmark. And although the smitten couple took things incredibly slowly, age was reportedly still a concern when they got secretly engaged.

WATCH: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's magical wedding - all the photos and details

Her Majesty was just 13 years old when she first met the 18-year-old Prince of Greece and Denmark, and although the pair spent several years getting to know one another and corresponding via letters before developing their relationship, age was reportedly still a concern when they got secretly engaged.

In 1946, when then-Princess Elizabeth was 20 years old, they supposedly decided to wed during a trip to Balmoral, Scotland – but Elizabeth's family were opposed to her marrying at such a young age. 

Philip told his biographer Basil Boothroyd in 1971: "We used to correspond occasionally. You see, it's difficult to visualise. I suppose if I'd just been a casual acquaintance it would all have been frightfully significant.

SEE: 12 intimate royal proposals: From Princess Eugenie's holiday to Zara Tindall's movie night

READ: Prince Philip's two totally different stags before wedding with the Queen

The Queen Prince Philip engaged© Photo: Getty Images

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip following their engagement announcement in 1947

"But if you're related – I mean I knew half the people here, they were all relations – it isn't so extraordinary to be on kind of family-relationship terms with somebody. You don't necessarily have to think about marriage.

"I suppose I began to think about it seriously, oh let me think, when I got back in '46 and went to Balmoral. It was probably then that we, that it became, you know, that we began to think about it seriously, and even talk about it."

engagement ring her majesty© Photo: Getty Images

The Queen's sentimental engagement ring

It was one year later in April 1947, when Elizabeth was 21, that her father King George VI gave them permission to wed. The royal couple went on to officially confirm their engagement on 9 July 1947 and hosted a photocall at Buckingham Palace, which allowed the future monarch to show off her new diamond ring.

The dazzling jewel was designed by Prince Philip and made using diamonds that belonged to his mother Princess Alice. The royal received a tiara as a wedding gift from her aunt Tsarina Alexandra of Russia and Tsar Nicholas II, and the stunning Romanov jewels formed part of the Queen's beautiful trilogy ring.

It featured a brilliant-cut stone which has been estimated at 3 carats and was flanked by smaller pavé diamonds. 

elizabeth philip wedding 1947© Photo: Getty Images

The couple on their wedding day in 1947

Philip gave up his Greek citizenship and title became Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, before being given the title the Duke of Edinburgh on his wedding day at London's Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947. At the time, Her Majesty opted for a beautifully embroidered bridal gown by Norman Hartnell that she paid for using ration coupons following World War Two.

"Princess Elizabeth with her marvellous complexion and Prince Philip such a devastatingly handsome naval officer. He looked tender, she was adoring. They really were a dream couple," bridesmaid Lady Pamela Hicks told The Telegraph. 

The royal guest list also included the Queen's sister and bridesmaid Princess Margaret, best man David Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven, and kilt-wearing page boys Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent. 

READ: Why Princess Beatrice's unique wedding dress is right on-trend for 2022

Planning your wedding? Sign up to HELLO!’s brand new Bride Guide newsletter for expert advice, budget help, wedding inspiration and real life stories delivered straight to your inbox.

More Weddings

See more