29 October 2017

Jewels in Motion: Elizabeth and Philip's Engagement (1947)

In a few weeks, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. We'll be providing an in-depth look at the jewels surrounding their wedding festivities all month, and we're kicking things off today with a look at their official engagement announcement. The photos from the engagement may feel familiar, but when seen in motion, they take on a whole new significance and warmth. Enjoy!

Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth's engagement was officially announced in July 1947, but the two had been seriously discussing marriage for at least a year beforehand. Philip later said that the couple "began to think about [marriage] seriously, and even talk about it" during his visit to Balmoral in the summer of 1946. He proposed on the visit, and Elizabeth accepted

Elizabeth's parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, asked the couple to wait until after the princess's 21st birthday to make their engagement official, and they reluctantly agreed. The press caught wind of the couple's serious attachment, however, at the wedding of Philip's cousin, Patricia Mountbatten (later Countess Mountbatten of Burma). Patricia's father, Lord Mountbatten, was also in the process of helping Philip obtain British citizenship. Philip became naturalized in February 1947, renouncing his Greek royal title in the process

Elizabeth turned 21 in April 1947, and in the summer of 1947, the couple confirmed the public's suspicions and officially announced that they would marry in November

Philip presented Elizabeth with an engagement ring made with diamonds taken from one of his mother's tiaras. (More on that, including its Romanov connections, over here.) For the official photocall, Elizabeth wore the ring with pearls and her Diamond Clematis Brooch

Philip, who was by then just plain Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, wore his naval uniform for the photograph session

In a move that echoed a famous moment from Patricia Mountbatten's wedding, Philip helped Elizabeth put on her coat during the photographs

The couple provided some action for newsreel cameras with a walk in the palace gardens

A family photo session was also part of the engagement announcement, underscoring the fact that "We Four" was now "We Five"

Philip linked arms with his bride-to-be and his sister-in-law, Princess Margaret, during the session. Elizabeth's engagement ring was also on full display here

Although he liked Philip, King George VI initially had reservations about his daughter's choice of husband, in part because he felt she was too young, and he simply wasn't ready for her to marry at all

Elizabeth, who had remained steadfastly in love with Philip since she was a young teenager, did not waver in her choice, even during the four-month tour of South Africa, which the palace had hoped would slow down the relationship a bit

The restoration of the Greek monarchy in September 1946 had also made the couple's engagement a bit more precarious, as the government worried that Philip and Elizabeth's marriage would be a tacit political endorsement of his first cousin, King George II. Philip's renunciation of his Greek titles was designed in part to help smooth this over. King George II died unexpectedly in April 1947, before the British royal engagement could even be publicly announced. His youngest brother (and another of Philip's first cousins), Paul, succeeded to the Greek throne

The Queen Mother, who wore pearls with Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Brooch for the photo session, also initially had reservations about the marriage, as did Queen Mary, partly because they saw Philip as a bit of an outsider

Princess Margaret, pictured wearing pearls and a nervous smile, gained a brother-in-law through the marriage. Eventually, because her father died nearly a decade before her own marriage, Philip would walk her down the aisle at her own wedding in Westminster Abbey

The images of Philip with the royal princesses during the engagement photocall are fun-loving and playful. The official engagement announcement from the palace, released on July 10, 1947, is a bit more formal: "It is with the greatest pleasure that the King and Queen announce the betrothal of their dearly beloved daughter The Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, RN, son of the late Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Andrew (Princess Alice of Battenberg), to which union the King has gladly given his consent."