Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II’s Marriage Struggled When She First Became Queen

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have been married since before she became queen. The two tied the knot back in 1947, and the queen took the throne in 1952. Stepping into such a major role proved to be a significant adjustment for the two — and it caused their marriage to struggle, though they managed to get back on track.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip | Alastair Grant/AFP/Getty Images

Some people didn’t think Philip was fit to marry the queen

When the queen and Philip started dating, not everyone was sure about the matchup. Philip, who was born in Greece and technically royalty, had been exiled from his home country as a baby. Philip had a difficult childhood, with his father leaving and his mother going through various health issues. As a result, he was shuffled around to boarding schools in various countries, giving him far less stability in his upbringing than the queen was given.

Though Philip grew on the royal family, there was still some uncertainty about the couple. According to Biography, the prince was seen as “foreign” and “poor,” which, at the time, were two attributes that were looked down upon in the royal family. The queen’s father requested that the two keep their engagement to themselves until the queen was 21.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at their wedding
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at their wedding | Keystone/Getty Images

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The royal rules and traditions put strain on the couple’s marriage

After Philip and the queen wed in 1947, there were many adjustments to be made. Philip was now a royal, and not just any royal — he was the husband to the future queen. He gave up his Greek royal title and became known as Prince Philip and the Duke of Edinburgh, among other titles.

When Queen Elizabeth stepped into the throne, things grew even more complex for Philip. He now had to walk several steps behind his wife, as per tradition. And he was disappointed that he could no longer have a career in the military. “I thought I was going to have a career in the Navy, but it became obvious there was no hope.… There was no choice,” he said, according to Biography. These changes tested the couple’s marriage, as they were tough for Philip to get used to.

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth with Prince Charles and Princess Anne
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth with Prince Charles and Princess Anne | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

There are rumors Philip cheated on his wife

Throughout the couple’s marriage, there have been rumors that Philip was unfaithful. The prince was reportedly involved with an “unnamed woman” in the 1950s, whom he met up with behind the queen’s back. There were further rumors that Philip had been secretly having an affair with dancer Patricia Kirkwood while the queen was pregnant. The rumors, though never confirmed, ruined Kirkwood’s career.

The prince has always vehemently denied being involved with other women during his marriage. But royal affairs were common back then — and some might say they still are.