In 1997, during their golden wedding anniversary, the Queen said Prince Philip, "has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years."
For 73 years, we have seen Prince Philip be a steadfast presence in the Queen's life. As the longest-serving consort, his demise at the age of 99 was confirmed by the royal family on April 9. "It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh," read a statement on the family's website "His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss."
The words "deep sorrow" summed up the heartfelt statement by the Queen, who now has to navigate the remainder of her life without her husband and partner by her side. According to Town&Country, their relationship was meant to be. Margaret Rhodes, the Queen's cousin, wrote in her memoir, The Final Curtsey, "She never looked at anyone else." She first met him in 1934 at the wedding of Philip's cousin to the Duke of Kent, Elizabeth's uncle where she was besotted by him. But it was only in 1939 when the Queen's parents were on tour at the Britannia Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth, southwestern England, there, as a young naval cadet, Philip was entrusted to entertain a 13-year-old Elizabeth and her sister Margaret. It was during WWII, that the two of them began to correspond and a romance blossomed. It was only after Elizabeth turned 21 that the palace announced their engagement in 1947, and after they wed, Philip was given the title of Duke of Edinburgh.
Philip eventually had to give up his promising military career to support his wife after she became the Queen. SkyNews reports that "they were one of the world's most famous and successful working partnerships." He was there through all her Commonwealth and state visits. It is reported that Prince Philip once told his friend and private secretary Mike Parker that "his constant job is looking after the Queen. He told me his job first, second, and last was never to let her down." A former aide spoke of their relationship as such: "The Queen may wear the crown, but it's Prince Philip who wears the trousers" referring to both their roles. In 1997, during their golden wedding anniversary, the Queen said of her husband, Prince Philip, "has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years."
Now, with his demise, a huge void has been left. Prince Andrew even confirmed the same in a recent interview outside a private chapel near Windsor Castle. "I feel very sorry and supportive of my mother, who is feeling it, I think, probably more than everybody else," he said, according to NBC News, noting that the 94-year-old matriarch has chosen to remain "stoic" in her grief. "She described it as having left a huge void in her life, but we, the family, the ones that are closer, are rallying around to make sure that we are there to support her, and I know there's a huge amount of support not just for her but for everybody as we go through this enormous change," he added.
Over the course of their seven-plus decade marriage, they have weathered many a storm together. Right from him playing second fiddle to "the role and perception of the monarchy, the divorces of three of their four children, as well as rumors of his infidelity and his reputation for putting his foot in it with his trademark off-the-cuff remarks." During the pandemic, Prince Philip and the Queen had spent most of the lockdown at Windsor Castle in England with a handful of household staff, nicknamed "HMS Bubble." It was only after he retired from public life in 2017, he was rarely seen in public. Yet, he was the Queen's steadfast companion behind the scenes during a tumultuous time.
The Queen had to deal with Prince William and Harry's falling out, the Sussexes criticism of using private flights at a time when they espoused the cause of environmental issues, and Megxit according to the Daily Mail. More recently, the royal family had to deal with the claims of racism among other things in an explosive Oprah interview by Meghan and Harry, while Philip was hospitalized for 28 days in a hospital in London when he was being treated for a pre-existing heart condition and an infection as well at King Edward VII Hospital and St. Bartholomew's Hospital.
Although this isn't the first great loss the Queen has had to deal with, having previously experienced the death of her mother and sister within weeks of each other during her Golden Jubilee year in 2002. But Prince Philip was by her side offering his support. This time around, she won't even have enough chance to grieve privately as she is set to make an appearance at the Duke's funeral in front of the media's glaring eyes. However, there is one thing to bear in mind; the Queen has had considerable training as head of state to hold her emotions in public. The most notable example of this is when her father King George VI died, and she was soon required to greet then Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other dignitaries immediately after landing in London as the new Queen. Yet there have been some cracks in the stoic facade. When the Queen's mother and sister passed away, she shed a tear during the opening of the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.
Over the years, the royal couple were ever-present at public events both in the UK and abroad traveling the world extensively in their official capacity. In 2012, however, the Queen had to appear all be herself during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations where she walked through St Paul's Cathedral solitarily without the Duke, who had been taken to hospital with a bladder infection. Speaking of Philip's absence at the ceremony and the pain the Queen had to go through, Princess Eugenie, their granddaughter told Sky News, per Daily Mail: "They are the most incredibly supportive couple to each other. Grandpa was unfortunately taken ill and for Granny to come and do that alone was probably quite testing and I think he is her rock, really, and she is his."
Following Prince Philip's retirement in 2017, he was rarely seen in public. Town&Country reports that "Their relationship was perhaps best summed up by Lord Charteris, the Queen’s former private secretary, who told author Gyles Brandreth, 'Prince Philip is the only man in the world who treats the Queen simply as another human being. He’s the only man who can. Strange as it may seem, I believe she values that.'"