With an engagement period of just four months, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, then known as Princess Elizabeth, was the tenth member of the Royal Family to be married at Westminster Abbey, to Phillip Mountbatten, Prince of Greece and Denmark, at just 21-years-old.
The Queen and the Duke were married for almost 74 years until Prince Phillip’s death last year at the age of 99, a few weeks shy of his centenary birthday.
The couple met for the first time at the wedding of the Duke of Edinburgh’s cousin, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark to Elizabeth’s uncle Prince George, Duke of Kent in London in 1934.
At the time, Elizabeth was 8 years old, and Phillip was twelve. The young royal was not projected to be queen, with her father’s brother, Prince Edward VII, next in line, who was also expected to produce an heir who would his successor to the throne.
When The Queen was 13 and the Duke was 18, the two met again when Elizabeth’s family was on a visit to the Britannia Royal Naval College, where the prince was a cadet in training. After years of correspondence, they two fell madly in love.
Although the prince didn’t technically have high enough titles to marry someone in the queen’s position, King George VI rather liked him. Instead of setting up his daughter with someone more credible, the King accepted Phillip’s request for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage and asked that they wait a year until the queen turned 21 years old before announcing their engagement.
At the ages of 21 and 25, the royal couple tied the knot on 20 November 1947 and welcomed their first child, Prince Phillip, into the world almost a day to the year later on 14 November 1948. The royal couple then welcomed their only daughter in 1950, Princess Anne, followed by the births of Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964.
Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator, film critic and previous editor of The International Who’s Who, said: “The Queen and the Duke met for the first time in the 1930s but again at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth on an official visit and it was then where she fell in love. Prince Phillip made a terrific impression on Princess Elizabeth, as she was known then.”
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the average marriage for men in the UK is 38 and 35 for women.
In the South Asian community, the average age of marriage can be much younger, with a professional relationship coach and wedding planner both acknowledging that South Asian brides and grooms get married in their early twenties.
Guzala Saleem is a professional relationship coach, further education college lecturer and founder and managing director of the Muslim Matrimonial Coach. She said at the time when the Queen got married, people in the South Asian community were getting married much younger, from 13 to 18, with people getting married much later on in life, after finishing their education, securing jobs, and purchasing property before settling down.
“We’ve seen that couples now want to know about the person they are marrying. Couples want to know their compatibility and know their prospective spouses’ values and mindsets before marrying, which are important factors in happiness. People are looking for friendship and their soulmate rather than the traditional husband and wife dynamic.” – Guzala Saleem
She said: “The Queen got married at the age of 21. People from the South Asian community at that time were getting married much younger than this. Getting married between the ages of 13 and 18 was the norm back then. Now, dynamics have changed, and people are getting married in their twenties and thirties.
“People want to focus on their careers, their education, being secure in terms of owning property or having a stable job before they make the commitment of marriage, which is throughout other communities as well.
“I think people in our community have realised that where arranged marriages have taken place, people have lived their life to please their parents and others and might not have been completely happy themselves.
“We’ve seen that couples now want to know about the person they are marrying. Couples want to know their compatibility and know their prospective spouses’ values and mindsets before marrying, which are important factors in happiness. People are looking for friendship and their soulmate rather than the traditional husband and wife dynamic.”
She added: “The Queen had an amazing life; she is an amazing woman. I think The Queen had a good life with the Duke of Edinburgh. There are always ups and downs in marriage, which is just a fact, but it is about hanging in there and understanding the differences you have and wanting it to work.”
She added: “I think people keeping marriage within families is fizzling out. To certain individuals, it is still important but the second and third generations of British South Asians are not interested in doing this and want to move away from this practice and have something more suitable for them.
“They don’t want to marry first and second cousins, they want to marry somebody new and fresh, who they connect with better. A lot of young people today see their cousins as their brothers and sisters and would like to keep them as close family members rather than a spouse. This way, they have two sets of relatives and new in-laws which are a completely different family.”
According to a wedding planner in Bradford, “couples today are like the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh”. He said the majority of weddings he plans are for couples between the ages of 20 and 25 who were introduced through family connections. Mohammed Sohail, owner of Abdalis Events, said: “Nowadays, not many marriages are arranged, people may be introduced but most of the time it is down to the bride and groom to make their choice about who they marry.
“On average, the bride and groom are usually between 20 and 25 when they get married. In the South Asian community, families want their children to finish their education and then get married. Young people also want to get married at that age, they want to start their families or live together with their spouses.”
What a remarkable journey, we take this opportunity to congratulate Her Majesty the Queen to become the first British monarch to reign for 70 years.
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