In 2017, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will reach their Platinum Wedding Anniversary, celebrating 70 years of marriage.
In the last two years, Her Majesty The Queen has celebrated three hugely significant milestones. In 2015 The Queen became the Longest Reigning Monarch in British history. In 2016 she became the first British monarch to celebrate her 90th birthday and earlier this year, The Queen became the first British monarch to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee. Earlier this year we began our Royal Celebration blog series, taking a trip down memory lane, recalling key anniversaries and celebrations from The Queen’s reign. As we continue our Royal Celebration Series, we go back to 1947, a Royal wedding.
On 20 November 1947, over 200 million people tuned in to a live radio broadcast, to listen to Her Majesty The Queen marry Prince Philip. At 21 and 26, the glamorous young couple embodied the hope of a nation weary of austerity and longing for change. The grand celebration captured the imagination of people all over the world, with crowds piling into cinemas to watch footage and more than 10,000 telegrams of congratulations sent to the happy couple.
Just like any wedding, months of preparation went in to the big day; ensuring no detail was left to chance. Princess Elizabeth’s father, George VI, gave her away in the same traditional way many fathers do today, the bridal party consisted of eight bridesmaids and two pages, and her bouquet contained a sprig of myrtle from the bush grown from the original myrtle in Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet.
On the day, thousands gathered on The Mall and in front of Buckingham Palace to get close to the action. The damp but cheerful crowds had been huddled on their blitz mattresses under blankets through the cold November night, before erupting in a thunder of cheering when the procession passed on its way to Westminster Abbey.
A Royal wedding in numbers
- 2 pages and 8 bridesmaids attended the wedding ceremony
- 4 tiered, 8-foot-tall wedding cake, weighing 227 kilos
- 13-foot silk tulle full court train for the wedding dress
- 2,000 invited guests
- 10,000 telegrams of congratulations
- 200 million people listened to the radio broadcast of the occasion
Of course, 70 years of marriage means that The Queen and Prince Philip have celebrated several milestones along the way, their silver, golden and diamond wedding anniversaries; and we have marked each special wedding anniversary on UK coins.
In 1972 we struck a 25p coin for The Queen and Prince Philip’s silver wedding anniversary, with both obverse and reverse designed by Arnold Machin, introducing a new joint portrait to the obverse to celebrate a partnership that by then had lasted 25 years.
The commemorative crown struck for their golden anniversary in 1997 was decorated by a shield design by Leslie Durbin on the reverse. The obverse featured a double portrait by Philip Nathan.
In 2007, for their diamond wedding anniversary, a stained glass style rose window inspired by the architecture of Westminster Abbey where the royal wedding took place was was depicted on the reverse. The obverse featured a combined portrait, now an anniversary tradition, created by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS.
Now, as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary in 2017, their unique romance inspires a celebratory collection of coins for this special royal occasion. John Bergdahl has created two reverse designs for the range and sculptor Eitienne Millner has continued tradition, creating a new double portrait for the obverse. The designs are presented across a range of celebratory issues, including five variations of the UK £5 coin. Click here to shop the collection.
Did you know, in 1947 more than 400,000 couples also tied the knot, sharing their wedding year with the royal couple. The memories of those weddings and the stories of their lives together are precious and touching, we recently spoke with Cicely and Douglas who are also celebrating 70 years of marriage in 2017; watch this video and hear their secret to an ever lasting marriage.
As we celebrate the royal platinum wedding anniversary, we are asking people to share their wedding memories, or those of their relatives, to get a picture of weddings at that point in time. If you would like to share a wedding memory from 1947, then please do so by filling in the following form.