To her subjects she was The Queen, Her Majesty or Ma’am.
But throughout her life, to those who know her best, Elizabeth was called the sweetest of nicknames.
And no one knew the Queen better than her husband Prince Philip, who passed away in his sleep at the age of 99 on April 9, 2021.
Away from the spotlight, Philip would affectionately call her “Lilibet”, “Sausage” or “Cabbage” – apparently from the French saying “mon petit chou”.
Speaking during a BBC documentary, Prince Harry explained: “From my grandmother’s perspective to have someone like that on your shoulder for 73 years of marriage…it doesn’t get better than that.
“The two of them together were just the most adorable couple. Behind what the world sees, you have two individuals who were very much in love.”
Philip was invited to join the family at Windsor Castle when Elizabeth was just 17. But according to her governess, Marion Crawford, she had already confided that Philip was “The One”.
As the romance progressed, Elizabeth would play People Will Say We’re In Love from the musical Oklahoma! over and over again, and it remained the couple’s favourite song.
“He was quite a catch,” says former royal butler Paul Burrell. “And the Queen fell in love with him. He was her rock.”
It was mutual, and Philip wrote in a letter to her in 1946: “To have fallen in love completely and unreservedly makes all one’s personal and even the world’s troubles seem small and petty.”
And soon after their wedding – which took place on November 20 1947 – Elizabeth wrote to her mother: “Philip is an angel – he is so kind and thoughtful, and living with him and having him around all the time is just perfect.”
In Philip’s own letter to the Queen Mother, he wrote: “Lilibet is the only thing in this world which is absolutely real to me.”
The prince always knew his role was to support the Queen, and he did it brilliantly – with plenty of laughs.
Back in 2003, they were seen in fits of laughter while inspecting the Grenadier Guards at Windsor Castle. According to Prince William, nothing amused his grandparents more than a ceremonial mishap.
“When things go wrong, they both chuckle an awful lot. Everyone else gets mortally embarrassed – they love it.”
What was clear was their adoration for each other. When they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1997 with a gala lunch, Philip told guests: “The Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”
The Queen added: “He has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years and 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.”
Her Majesty was at the duke’s bedside when he died peacefully at Windsor Castle in April 2021.
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