In their life together they have celebrated their silver, golden, ruby and diamond wedding anniversaries, and on Monday 20th November, Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip will reach their platinum anniversary – marking an astonishing 70 years together. In the winter issue of Evergreen, which is now on sale (click here), we have a fascinating feature looking back at the build-up to the royal couple's magical wedding day in 1947, which lifted the spirits of the nation and the Commonwealth in the years after the war.
Nowadays, a platinum wedding anniversary tends to be a rare occurrence, but perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised at the The Queen and Prince Philip's achievement because they have, between them, reached many milestones in their lives. They are an exceptional couple whose dedication to duty and the service of the nation is matched by their devotion to each other and their family. Many of you will have seen them at last weekend's Festival of Remembrance and the poignant scenes on Remembrance Sunday as, for the first time, they watched the ceremony from the Foreign Office balcony overlooking The Cenotaph. At 91 and 96 respectively, The Queen and Prince Philip continue to be an inspiration to us all.
We are told that they will be spending 20th November quietly, marking the occasion privately with family and friends. No doubt, though, they will reminisce about that glorious day 70 years ago; the fairy-tale magic of their wedding and the jubilation of the British public who lined the route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey cheering the procession. There was a tremendous outpouring of love, generosity and affection shown towards the beautiful Princess and her handsome Prince. The wedding brought pomp, majesty and splendour (as much as the post-war rationing would permit), but at the heart of the occasion were a couple deeply in love who represented much-needed hope and optimism for the future.
To mark the occasion, the Poet Laureate John Masefield (1878-1967), wrote this wonderful verse in celebration. Many of the poem's sentiments still resonate all these years later:
What is the Crown, but something set above
The jangle and the jargon and the hate
Of strivers after power in the State,
A symbol, like a banner, for men's love?
When hope is dim and luck is out of joint,
When enemies within, without, assail,
When a Crown shines, the courage cannot fail,
There a land's spirit finds a rallying point.
To those young lands, the countries of our kin,
The friends in need, the comrades in despair,
Our allies steadfast when no others were....
But how can Britain praise them? How begin?
To those dear lands, still calling Britain "Home",
The Crown is still the link with Britain's past,
The consecrated thing that must outlast
Folly and hate and other human foam.
To those, as to ourselves, this marriage time
Summons all hearts from their accustomed ways
To pray that hidden strengths, supreme, sublime,
May from their glory bless this couple's days.
To pray, that She, our future Queen, may hear
Through many happy years, the bells rejoice,
Telling of People glad, a Sovereign dear,
A Land restored, a Purpose again clear,
With wind-delighting clamour of glad voice.
Now, as The Queen and Prince Philip approach their platinum anniversary, I am sure you will join me - and everyone here at Evergreen and This England - in sending them our warmest and most heartfelt congratulations.