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Inside Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's fairytale wedding: From war tensions to 9ft cake

The royals tied the knot in 1947

queen philip wedding
Nichola Murphy
Nichola MurphyDeputy Lifestyle Editor
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After meeting as teenagers and enjoying a 73-year marriage, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's love story really is one for the ages. 

LOOK: 11 rarely-seen royal wedding photos: From Princess Eugenie's first dance to Sarah Ferguson's honeymoon

One particularly memorable event in their enduring relationship was their royal wedding on 20 November 1947, which saw a 21-year-old Princess Elizabeth exchange vows with the then-26-year-old Prince of Greece and Denmark. On what would have been their 75th anniversary, look back at the late monarch's romantic wedding day with her "strength and stay", the Duke of Edinburgh…

WATCH: The Queen and Prince Philip's enduring love story

Their big day came 13 years after the couple first met in 1934 at the wedding of his cousin, Princess Marina of Greece. The teenagers stayed in contact via letters, and in 1946, they became secretly engaged but reportedly postponed announcing the news until 1947 when her father George VI gave them permission to wed. 

Philip gave up his Greek citizenship and title and took on a family surname, becoming Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. 

official wedding portrait

The newlyweds had their official portrait in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace alongside their close family members, including Queen Mary, mother of King George VI, and Prince Philip's mother Princess Alice of Battenberg. Philip's three sisters were reportedly declined an invite because they had all married German princes and the wedding took place just two years after the end of World War II and tensions were still high in Britain.

MORE: 11 surprising facts about the Queen and Prince Philip’s wedding day

READ: The Queen's 11 royal wedding rules for Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more brides

elizabeth arriving wedding

On her wedding day, wearing a beautifully embroidered dress by Norman Hartnell, Princess Elizabeth arrived at Westminster Abbey in the Irish State Coach with her father King George VI. Since her wedding occurred while Britain's austerity measures were still in place after WWII, Elizabeth famously saved up ration coupons to purchase the material needed to make her gown. 

elizabeth wedding dress

Elizabeth's embroidered wedding gown was made of ivory Duchesse satin and decorated with 10,000 pearls imported from the US. The royal's bridal bouquet was made up of white orchids and a sprig of myrtle which had been snipped from a bush grown from the myrtle in Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet. The day after the nuptials, Princess Elizabeth's flowers were laid on the grave of the unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey. 

queen wedding tiara

"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 bride's wedding look, which included a double-strand royal heirloom pearl necklace, would not have been complete without a stunning tiara. Princess Elizabeth wore Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, consisting of 47 diamond bars using stones taken from a necklace Queen Mary had been given by Queen Victoria. The Fringe Tiara, passed on to Princess Elizabeth's mother in 1936, was loaned to the young Princess as the "something borrowed" element of her wedding outfit. 

queen train

The future Queen Elizabeth II's bridal ensemble also included a 13ft star-patterned full court train attached at the shoulders, and a silk tulle veil held in place by her mother's tiara. Like the gown, the veil and train, with their bursts of stars and flowers, were inspired by Botticelli's 'Primavera'. 

queen walks down aisle

The bride and groom are seen walking down the aisle followed by their eight bridesmaids and two page boys during the ceremony, which was officiated by both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York. The groom – who was now styled as the Duke of Edinburgh – presented his princess with a wedding band of Welsh gold to wear alongside her engagement ring. 

SEE: 28 royal brides with historic wedding dresses: Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice & more

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king george queen elizabeth

The bride's parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother are seen making their way down the aisle of Westminster Abbey. Behind them is a regal Queen Mary, George VI's mother, who was Queen Consort from 1910 to 1936. 

duchess kent gloucester

The more than 2,000 guests at the spectacular nuptials – which were broadcast by BBC Radio to 200 million people around the world – turned out in their finest furs and jewels. Here are two of Princess Elizabeth's close relatives, the Duchess of Kent and the Duchess of Gloucester.

queen philip carriage

The newlyweds waved from the royal carriage at the crowds gathered at Parliament Square.

royal newlyweds balcony

What is a royal wedding without a royal wave? Here the newlyweds gather with the wedding party on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after returning from the ceremony. Left to right: Princess Margaret, Margaret Elphinstone, Diana Bowes-Lyon, Lady Caroline Montagu Douglas-Scott, Lady Elizabeth Lambert, best man the Marquess of Milford Haven, the bride and groom, Lady Mary Cambridge and Lady Pamela Mountbatten. 

wedding cake

The wedding reception 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 9ft high, weighing 500lbs 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 as a thank you.

royals honeymoon

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip honeymooned in Hampshire, England, at the historic Broadlands house owned by Philip's uncle, Lord Mountbatten, and at Birkhill on the Balmoral estate. Here, the newlyweds are seen looking over their wedding photographs in Romsey, Hampshire.

Almost exactly one year after exchanging vows, Elizabeth and Philip welcomed the first of their four children, Prince Charles, on November 14, 1948. And less than five years later, the young Princess was proclaimed Queen. 

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