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Congratulations to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Today they mark 65 years of marriage

They are an example to follow but also a splendid and royal rebuke to our times

By on Tuesday, 20 November 2012

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Congratulations to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh who have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary today. It is a significant achievement. I don’t mean the longevity aspect which is out of their hands, a mixture of luck and good genes; I mean the example they have set the country of a faithful and enduring marriage, based on mutual affection and respect. According to the Telegraph report, Prince Philip wrote to the Queen Mother on his honeymoon, saying that his wife was “the only ‘thing’ in the world which is absolutely real to me and my ambition is to weld the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us but will also have a positive existence for the good”.

They have certainly had shocks, public and private: the general carping and sniping of republican sentiment over the decades, directed at a seemingly privileged family, out of touch with ordinary life; the collapse of three of their children’s marriages; the extraordinary – and critical – response to the death of their troubled daughter-in-law, Diana; relentless and inquisitive publicity at all times. And yet it is still obvious that, as a couple, they have not only endured but triumphed. I once tried to get my brother, who had served as an equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh for two years in his youth, to give me some inside information on “The Firm”. Quite rightly he refused; he would only vouchsafe that “they are a great team”.

Such teamwork is what a solid marriage is all about and the Duke of Edinburgh must be given credit for the part he has played. A natural leader, yet unable because of his position as consort to be the public head of his family, it is clear he has led it in private. The Queen’s words at her Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2007 say it all: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.”

The Telegraph report strikes one ominous note, stating: “The average age for people getting married is now in their 30s. Coupled with that is the fact that divorce has become much easier and more commonplace since the 1960 and 70s, so the chance of anyone surpassing the Queen’s record becomes ever more unlikely.” This record might seem an anachronism in today’s society, when we have a Tory prime minister who has pledged to change the definition of marriage for good, and when marriage as it stands is disadvantaged in our tax system. However, I prefer to think it is a splendid and royal rebuke to our times, as well as a challenge to aspire to the example this good couple have shown us.

  • NewMeena

    Are you trying for an OBE?

  • JR, Sydney

    We don’t have the OBE around here any more, but I did wonder similarly. HRH and The Dook have every material advantage to allow them to live together ( whether or not as man and wife) that lesser folk don’t. I find the insightlessness of this article breathtaking and as an Antipodean I should not be surprised.   It is in the poorest of  taste to comment about the marital breakdowns experienced by 3 of HRH’s 4 children, and the reference to the late Diana was insulting to say the least. It would have been better if that had been left unsaid or if Ms Philips was unable contain herself why could she have not had a shot at the future Defender of the Faith for his acknowledged adultery and subsequent remarriage to a divorcee ( married for the first time in catholic rites)?  Surely this would have been an appropriate comment in a publication which  trumpets its fidelity to “Christian values”. 

    The marital track records of the hereditary rulers of The UK are nothing to marvel about.  

  • JFJ

    I would respectfully disagree.  I think the article is very insightful and does what it needs to do when commenting upon a marriage that is so significant and so open to public view as that of Her Majesty and Prince Phillip. Indeed, I would think it is probably an easily demonstrable point to say that the type of family turmoil mentioned is something that really must be mentioned as an appropriate contrast to the steadfastness and unswerving loyalty that is the marriage of the Queen and Duke.  Indeed, the fact that the hereditary rulers of the UK do not have a very good track record, might also be demonstrable; but not in this case here, which, it seems to me, makes their 65 years together even more historically significant.  This case is certainly one to marvel at in an age when people set marriage aside so easily, as if where a high school fling of some sort that they always knew would end.  I’ve been married for 33 years and hope to meke it to 65!  If I do, I will remember this anniversary, hopefully!!

  • NewMeena

    The stresses of (a real) life are usually the causes of marriage breakup.

    Too many children, too little money, wretched housing conditions, unemployment and extreme tiredness after exhausting hours at work are among the important contributory factors. 

    I recall an article in (YES the all-important) Telegraph, on the occasion of the Queen Mother’s death.
    It was an interview with a painter who had once painted the Q. Mother’s portrait.  He describes the time when, in his studio, as the fire died-down, he went across the room to place another log on the fire. The Q. Mother was amazed and quite shocked by this. He heard her telling another person, as she left, about this “incredible, amazing” act of his. 
    The royals (although they SEEM to) do not live in our world.