Earlier this week, Royal Mail announced the release of a set of six stamps to commemorate the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who are the longest-married British royal couple in history.
The set features paired images from their engagement period, wedding and honeymoon.
“A platinum wedding anniversary is rare, and for the Royal Family it is unique,” said Royal Mail spokesperson Philip Parker.
“We are delighted to issue these six stamps to mark Her Majesty’s and the Duke of Edinburgh’s 70 years of marriage.”
1947 ENGAGEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT
On July 9, 1947, Buckingham Palace issued the following announcement: “It is with the greatest pleasure that the King and Queen announce the betrothal of their dearly beloved daughter The Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN.”
Officially, the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, which took place on Nov. 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey, was to be an austerity affair; however, the public and the wider world had rather different ideas. For days before and after the service, huge crowds flocked to St James’s Palace to view an exhibition of some of the 2,500 wedding gifts.
These included a sewing machine from the Provost and Council of Clydebank and a sapphire and diamond necklace given to the Princess by her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
The day before the wedding, the King appointed his future son-in-law a Knight of the Garter. On the day itself, it was announced the King had also granted him the titles of Baron Greenwich, Earl of Merioneth and Duke of Edinburgh. He would be His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and following the wedding, his bride would be the Duchess.
More than 200 million listeners worldwide followed the service by radio. For the first time, newsreel cameras were admitted into the Abbey to film part of the proceedings, and cinemas were packed for weeks.
THE WEDDING DRESS
For her wedding dress, the bride had turned to Norman Hartnell, already a royal favourite. The bridal gown was made of ivory silk and decorated with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls which Hartnell had sourced from America. The 4.5-metre train, which featured a star pattern, was inspired by Botticelli’s Primavera to symbolize post-war regeneration. Observing the tradition there should be “something borrowed,” the Princess wore the tiara originally made for her grandmother Queen Mary.
The bride and her father travelled to the Abbey in the Irish State Coach. The groom, who had spent the previous evening at the Dorchester Hotel, was already waiting at the Abbey in his Royal Navy uniform, alongside his groomsman, the Marquess of Milford Haven.
The eight bridesmaids included Princess Margaret and Princess Alexandra, while two younger cousins, Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent, were page boys. The royal party entered to the hymn Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven followed by another royal favourite, The Lord’s My Shepherd, set to the Scottish tune Crimond.
After the wedding breakfast and an appearance on the Palace balcony, the newly-weds departed by carriage for Waterloo station. They travelled to Broadlands, Hampshire, which was the home of Prince Philip’s uncle Lord Mountbatten. Huge crowds followed them to Sunday morning church at Romsey Abbey. They were afforded more privacy on the second leg of the honeymoon, at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate.
STAMPS & OTHER PRODUCTS
In addition to the set of five stamps, Royal Mail has released a presentation pack; a stamp sheet; a stamp sheet souvenir; a souvenir pack; a presentation pack; a press sheet; limited-edition framed prints; and a set of postcards.
STAMP BY STAMP
Engagement: July 10, 1947
The engagement stamps depict Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, who recently announced their plans to wed. They are pictured together in two images taken at Buckingham Palace.
Wedding: Nov. 20, 1947
In one of the wedding stamps, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh walk down the aisle of Westminster Abbey after their wedding service. They are followed by Prince Michael of Kent and Prince William of Gloucester holding the bridal train, the eight bridesmaids and then the groomsman, the Marquess of Milford Haven.
In the second wedding stamp, Princess Elizabeth is shown with her husband after the ceremony.
Honeymoon: Nov. 23, 1947
The first honeymoon stamp depicts the royal newly-weds in the grounds of Broadlands, Romsey, Hampshire, where they spent their honeymoon. The royal couple are looking at photographs of their wedding.
Lastly, the final stamp shows Princess Elizabeth enjoying a stroll with her husband in what was their first public appearance since their wedding.