King George Once Asked Prince Philip to Babysit an ‘Overwhelmed’ 13-Year-Old Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth’s love story with Prince Philip is one for the ages. The pair first met in the 1930s when Elizabeth was a princess and barely a teenager. The two would go on to get engaged in 1947 but not before King George reportedly asked Philip to babysit a 13-year-old Elizabeth, who quickly became “overwhelmed” by Philip.

Queen Elizabeth Prince Philip
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth meets Prince Philip

At the age of 13, Elizabeth and Philip’s paths crossed during a trip to Dartmouth’s Britannia Royal Naval College in 1939. Elizabeth was with her parents, King George and Queen Elizabeth, and her sister, Margaret, at the time of her visit.

King George reportedly asked Philip, a cadet who was 18 years old, to babysit Elizabeth and Margaret. This was right before the start of World War II, and Philip was tasked with the job of looking after Elizabeth and Margaret after an outbreak of the chickenpox hit the Royal Navy College.

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth are third cousins, which explains why George asked him to watch his two daughters. Philip had also met Elizabeth on several occasions prior to 1939, so he was already familiar with the family.

Although Elizabeth was reportedly taken by Philip’s good looks during the Royal Naval College trip, they apparently experienced some minor hiccups when he was her babysitter. And Elizabeth’s hilarious response to one of Philip’s tasks is a real gem.

Prince Philip tries to wrangle an ‘overwhelmed’ Queen Elizabeth

In promotion for the new documentary, The Queen at War, royal historian Christopher Warwick sat down with Vanity Fair and talked about Elizabeth and Philip’s initial meeting. Warwick explained how Philip grew tired of playing games with Elizabeth and Margaret and famously told them, “Let’s go and jump the nets on the tennis courts.”

“And Princess Elizabeth was just overwhelmed [by Philip], really. Her governess, Marion Crawford, recorded [in her diary] that Elizabeth said, ‘See how he jumps,’” Warwick added.

Warwick went on to say that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s romance did not blossom until after World War II started. Philip was in the Royal Navy during the war and would often visit the royal family at Windsor Castle whenever he got leave.

Philip was always accompanied by his uncle and his cousin, Lord Mountbatten and Princess Marina. And during the early years of the war, Warwick says that Elizabeth and Philip had a “cousinly correspondence.”

Lord Mountbatten, however, had different plans for Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth. Warwick says that he pushed for their romance so much that King George eventually told him to just “let it happen naturally.”

Was it love at first sight for Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh?

Despite their babysitting moment, Elizabeth was reportedly quite fond of Philip when they met in 1939. According to Tatler, Elizabeth’s governess, Marion Crawford, says that she was attracted to Philip’s “Viking good looks,” which included blue eyes and fair hair.

In Crawford’s book, The Little Princesses, she claims that Elizabeth would often blush whenever Philip came on board her father’s yacht for lunch. Even Lord Mountbatten picked up on Elizabeth’s fondness for Philip, noting in his personal diary that their meeting proved “a great success.”

Several of Elizabeth’s relatives also opened up about how she was smitten by Philip early on. This includes Margaret Rhodes, who later wrote about how “Elizabeth was truly in love from the very beginning.”

Elizabeth and Philip would go on to get engaged after World War II was over. They tied the knot in a gorgeous wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey in the fall of 1947. Little did Elizabeth know that she would inherit the crown five years later and become Queen Elizabeth II.

In total, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have been married for 72 years and share four children: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.