queen

The Queen was advised not to marry Prince Philip because he was too funny, biographer claims

Gemma Strong

The Queen has been happily married to Prince Philip for almost 70 years, but it has been revealed that their union might never have come about - had the monarch listened to the advice of her courtiers.

Biographer A.N. Wilson has claimed that the young Elizabeth was told on a number of occasions that Philip was "entirely the wrong person to choose" because he was too funny and made "gaffes", the Telegraph reports.

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The Queen and Prince Philip have been married almost 70 years

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, he said: "When she made it quite clear from the age of about 14 that she was in love with Prince Philip, who was a beautiful German Prince with blond hair, all the courtiers said he was entirely the wrong person to choose.

"They said it for lots of reasons, but the fact is he was wrong. The Queen is very reserved, diligent person. He isn't. He was a naval officer and he was also quite funny."

Despite those reservations, the couple announced their engagement in July 1947, when the Queen was 21, and they were married on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. Just four years later, Elizabeth became Queen.

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The royal couple pictured on their wedding day, 20 November 1947

The biographer told his audience that Philip's first comment to the Queen after her coronation was, 'Where did you get that hat?'.

"Many of his jokes are extremely funny," he added. "He has been what she has described, which is a tower of strength. The fact that he makes all these so-called gaffes. Well, I don't think they are gaffes. They are the kind of jokes a naval officer of a certain age might make. I think [they are] made rather wonderfully."

Philip himself once quipped of the couple's marriage: "You can take it from me that the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance." But it's clear that their partnership is based on love and mutual respect.

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The Queen has described her husband as "my strength and stay"

In her golden wedding anniversary speech in 1997, the Queen acknowledged the invaluable support her husband has provided – and suggested that his importance is sometimes overlooked.

"He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments. But he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years," she said.

"I and his whole family, in this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know."

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