The Queen and Prince Philip are on track to celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary next November and have been often hailed as a symbol of consistent unity through the years. But a recent documentary suggested the couple faced a very “strained” period of their lives after the Royal Family had to quickly adapt to change following a major death. The Duke of Edinburgh’s cousin Lady Pamela Hicks told National Geographic’s ‘Being the Queen’ Philip struggled with getting used to his new secondary role following the death of George VI.
Lady Hicks said: “This extremely active enthusiastic young man who suddenly finds his whole life is going to be taken away from him and probably thinking he will become a ‘yes man’ for the rest of his life.
“This really devastated their lives as a married couple.”
Prince Philip had to renounce his military career and was left taking on representative positions in aid of the Queen for the rest of his life.
The documentary’s executive producer Tom Jenning commended the Duke of Edinburgh for successfully adapting to his new role but conceded he must have faced great difficulties when faced with the prospect of giving up “his bride to the nation.”
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Mr Jenning said: “I’m sure it was very strained at first and for someone like Philip to acquiesce to the nation and basically give up his bride to the world and take a backseat to everything that’s going on.
“I think he managed to get through it, but I’m sure it was a very strained time for them.”
Friends of Prince Philip suggested he had appeared “absolutely flattened” after learning of the death of his father-in-law while he and then-Princess Elizabeth had been in Kenya on a tour.
A royal insider years after the event said it appeared as if “the world had collapsed on him.”
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“It was, what, barely four years since the marriage? Now his naval career was over and he was going to spend the rest of his life walking four paces behind his wife.”
But despite the sudden change of plan, Prince Philip took up his new duties and remained committed to his role for over 65 years.
Buckingham Palace confirmed in 2017 the Duke of Edinburgh would relinquish all his patronages and put an end to his public career to retire in Sandringham.
He continued to attend family events, including the weddings of his grandchildren Prince Harry and Princess Beatrice in 2018 as well as Lady Gabriella Windsor’s in 2019.
During the pandemic, Prince Philip shielded with the Queen at Windsor Castle and put his retirement on hold to oversee a ceremony during which he passed on his role as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles to his daughter-in-law Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
In August, the Duke relocated to Balmoral with the Queen as was reunited with some members of the Royal Family.