One of the longest-lasting Royal marriages, today marks the milestone 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.
To celebrate this special occasion, Matthew Butson, vice president of the Getty Images Archive – which has access to over 130 million images, including some of the most iconic imagery of the Royal Family – has selected his eight favourite photos from each decade the Royal couple have been together.
Shortly after their wedding, King George the VI wrote to his daughter; ‘I can see that you are sublimely happy with Philip’ – and decades later, the Queen went on to praise her husband with the words; ‘I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.’
Here, Matthew talks FEMAIL through his pick of portraits of the royal couple as they celebrate their great milestone – and what each image reveals about their enduring devotion.
In a special portrait to commemorate 70 years of marriage, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh – pictured against a platinum-textured backdrop – together mark their special anniversary, shot by Matt Holyoak
Forties: A Royal wedding for Princess Elizabeth, 1947
Here comes the bride: On 20th November 1947, at just 21, the young Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey. Here you can see a bridesmaid re-arranging her veil as the newly-wed couple make their way down the aisle
‘On 20th November 1947, at just 21, the young Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey. It was only two years after the end of the Second World War and rationing was still in place in Britain,’ says Matthew Buston.
‘The wedding was fairly simple and like any bride at the time, the Princess had to collect clothing coupons for her dress. This beautiful shot shows one of the Queen’s many bridesmaids re-arranging her veil as the newly-wed couple make their way down the aisle.’
Fifties: A Queen-in-waiting and her young family, 1952
Happy family: This shot shows the young Royal couple posing happily for a family portrait with their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Balmoral Castle. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, purchased the Castle in the 19th century
‘This 1952 shot by Lisa Sheridan, which is part of our Hulton Royals Collection, shows the young Royal couple posing happily for a family portrait with their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
‘Lisa Sheridan had a close relationship with the Royal Family and regularly photographed the Queen as a young girl. This image was taken only months after King George VI died and the Queen ascended the throne at the age of just 25. Plans were already well underway for her coronation which took place the following year.’
Sixties: A family day out at the polo, 1967
Trophies for her princes: Here photographer Michael Stroud catches an intimate family moment between parents and son. Taken in 1967, the Queen is awarding both Prince Philip and Prince Charles with trophies after a friendly polo match
‘Here photographer Michael Stroud catches an intimate family moment as the Queen awards eighteen-year old Prince Charles and his father Prince Philip with trophies after a friendly polo match.
‘A love of the sport has been passed down through generations of the Royal Family with Prince William and Prince Harry keen polo players today.
‘In 2010, Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho launched the Sentebale Polo Cup and the young Princes have regularly competed against each other in friendly matches.’
Seventies: Jumping Queen, 1971
Jumping for joy: This 1971 image shows Queen Elizabeth on a visit to Turkey, accompanied by Prince Philip and their daughter Princess Anne. The Queen is caught mid-motion, as she is being given a helping hand to step ashore
‘This 1971 image shows Queen Elizabeth on a visit to Turkey, accompanied by Prince Philip and their daughter Princess Anne. The Queen is caught mid-motion, as she is being given a helping hand to step ashore.
‘Since the Queen’s ascension, the Duke of Edinburgh has accompanied the Queen on all her State Visits overseas and been her constant companion. In turn, the Queen has praised her husband for being her ‘strength and stay’ during her reign.’
Eighties: Queen and Philip at Windsor, 1982
At home in Windsor: Here we are given a rare glimpse of the Royal couple sharing a private moment. Taken at the Royal Windsor Horse Show at Windsor Castle in 1982, the Queen and Prince Philip both have a keen interest in equestrian sports
‘Here we are given a rare glimpse of the Royal couple sharing a private moment. Taken at the Royal Windsor Horse Show at Windsor Castle in 1982, the Queen and Prince Philip both have a keen interest in equestrian sports.
‘The event occurs annually in May and often it’s cold and grey, however the sunlit dappled trees, along with the relaxed attired and comfortable nature of the couple, makes this picture very warming.’
Nineties: Royal Family Trooping, 1990
Family affair: (L To R) Prince Edward, Duchess Of York, Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince William, The Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte Of Luxembourg, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Lord Frederick Windsor, Princess Diana, Lady Rose Windsor, 16th June 1990
‘Since the 18th Century, Trooping of the Colour has marked the official birthday of the British sovereign. Over a thousand parading soldiers, horses and musicians come together each June in a magnificent procession.
‘The celebration closes with an RAF fly-past which is watched by members of the Royal Family from Buckingham Palace Balcony. Here we see The Queen, aged 64, and Prince Philip surrounded by their children and grandchildren on June 16th 1990.’
Noughties: Marking the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, 2001
Golden couple: Taken in November 2001, this picture was used to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee the following year. Deviating from traditional royal portraits, this more modern shot was taken by Patrick Lichfield at Buckingham Palace
‘This picture was taken in November 2001, and used to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee the following year. It’s a fantastic shot, taken by Patrick Lichfield, who was known for his studio portraiture and who also photographed the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Different from traditional royal portraits, this image has a distinctly artistic feel.
‘A few years later, the Queen and Prince Philip went on to become the first couple in the Royal Family to celebrate their Diamond Wedding anniversary.’
2010s: Feeding time at the zoo, 2017
Feeding time at the zoo: Getty Images Royal Photographer Chris Jackson, who has shot many of the more recent famous images of the Royal Family, took this photo in 2017 during a visit to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Elephant Centre. This has to be one of the more memorable images. After watching the elephant team carrying out daily care tasks, the Queen proceeded to feed Donna the elephant a banana!
Getty Images Royal Photographer Chris Jackson, who has shot many of the more recent famous images of the Royal Family, took this photo in 2017 during a visit to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Elephant Centre.
‘This has to be one of the more memorable images of the Royal Couple. The Queen, who has been an animal lover since childhood, didn’t just watch the elephant team carry out their daily care tasks but joined in feeding Donna the elephant herself! Elephants are an animal particularly close to the hearts of the Royal Family and the Tusk Trust was one of the first charities Prince William chose to patronage.’