Prince Philip: Queen will ‘carry on duty’ says Nicholas Witchell
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The Duke of Edinburgh, the longest-serving consort to a monarch in British history, died at the age of 99 at Windsor Castle on Friday morning. Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “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. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”
Prince Philip’s health had been slowly deteriorating for some time.
He announced he was stepping down from royal engagements in May 2017, joking that he could no longer stand up.
He made a final official public appearance later that year during a Royal Marines parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.
He did however continue to support his wife, the Queen, in the many challenges which faced her in the past couple of years.
Their blissful marriage went from strength to strength over 73 years, with Her Majesty once describing Philip as her “constant strength and guide”.
As people around the world join the Royal Family in mourning the Duke’s loss, a touching letter written by Her Majesty recounting the early days of their courtship has resurfaced.
The letter written when she was a 21-year-old Princess sheds light on their shared love of dancing and the Prince’s love of fast driving in his MG sports car.
Written on sheets of paper with a Balmoral letterhead, it recounts when they first met and the early stages of their romance.
The letter was written to author Betty Shew just months before the Queen and Prince Philip’s wedding in 1947.
Mrs Shew was writing a book titled “Royal Wedding” as a souvenir of the marriage, and the then Princess agreed to share intimate details of her relationship.
In the letter, Princess Elizabeth recalls how she first met Prince Philip in 1939, describes his love of riding and how the couple danced at nightclubs Ciro’s and Quaglino’s.
She wrote: “Philip enjoys driving and does it fast! He has his own tiny M.G which he is very proud of – he has taken me about in it, once up to London, which was great fun, only it was like sitting on the road, and the wheels are almost as high as one’s head. On that one and only occasion we were chased by a photographer which was disappointing.”
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Recalling their first meeting, the Queen said: “I was 13 years of age and he was 18 and a cadet just due to leave. He joined the Navy at the outbreak of war, and I only saw him very occasionally when he was on leave – I suppose about twice in three years.
“Then when his uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, were away he spent various weekends away with us at Windsor. Then he went to the Pacific and Far East for two years.”
She added: “Philip likes riding but as yet, has not done much racing.
“We both love dancing – we have danced at Ciro’s and Quaglino’s as well at parties.
“We first started seeing more of each other when Philip went for a two-year job to the R.N Petty Officers School at Corsham – before that we hardly knew each other.
“He’d spend weekends with us, and when the school was closed he spent six weeks at Balmoral.”
Her Majesty also included details of her engagement and wedding rings.
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She said: “The wedding ring will be made of Welsh gold, but not from the Craigwen mine.
“The engagement ring was made by Antrobus. Princess Alice took it in as Philip obviously couldn’t but he designed the ring.
“I don’t know the history of the stone, except that it is a very fine old cutting. It was given to me not long before the engagement was announced.”
The letter went under the hammer at Chippenham Auction Rooms in Wiltshire on April 23, 2016, alongside other royal memorabilia.
Richard Edmonds, principal auctioneer, said: “This is a wonderfully well-preserved letter written in the Queen’s hand.
“It gives a fascinating glimpse into the life of the then Princess Elizabeth at what was such a significant time in her life.
“The price of a letter like this is very difficult to predict but it could be in the region of £800 to £1,200.”
In the end, the two-page letter was bought for £14,400 by a private collector from Britain.
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