Queen Elizabeth II continued her tradition of sending letters to Prince Philip one final time at his funeral, just one week after his death at age 99 on April 9.
Placed on top of the Duke of Edinburgh’s casket were a letter and a wreath from the queen, his wife of over 73 years. While it was unclear what the note, written on the Queen’s stationery, contained, photos appear to reveal that it read in part, “I love you.”
Some social media sleuths speculated that the note read, "Your Loving Lilibet." Used by close family, Lilibet is a nickname the queen received when she was young because she couldn't pronounce her own name. Philip was known to use this term of endearment in his letters to her and about her, once writing to the Queen Mother, “Cherish Lilibet? I wonder if that word is enough to express what is in me.”
The royal couple first began exchanging letters at the beginning of their courtship after the then 13-year-old Elizabeth met Philip, an 18-year-old Green and Danish prince. As Philip was just about to enlist in the Royal Navy, their in-person courtship was cut short until the two began exchanging letters. When Philip returned, he asked King George VI for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
The two wed on Nov. 20, 1947, with their wedding broadcast worldwide on the radio. After spending the first years of their marriage in Malta, where Philip was stationed as a naval officer, they returned to England after King George VI died. Elizabeth became the new monarch in 1953. The royal couple went on to have four children together, eight grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
“The queen has been left absolutely devastated,” NBC News royal contributor Camilla Tominey told Weekend TODAY last week. Ahead of today’s funeral, the queen returned to work on Tuesday and resumed her royal duties.
At the intimate ceremony with only 30 close family members in attendance, the queen sat alone due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines which would have required her to be within a “bubble” with those in attendance in order to be within 6 feet of them.
Wilfred Frost, CNBC anchor and son of David Frost, said on Saturday morning that the queen's "bubble" was her husband prior to his death. He added her being alone at his funeral is quite poignant, saying, she will literally "have no shoulder to cry on."
Since his death, tributes have poured in worldwide for Prince Philip. Throughout the week, the official Twitter account for the royal family has shared various photos, many never before seen, of Philip, including a previously unseen photo of the royal couple at the top of the Coyles of Muick in Scotland in 2003.
After the announcement of Philip’s passing, a sweet photo of the queen and her husband was shared on Twitter, shot by Annie Lebowitz in 1997. Along with the touching photo was a quote from the queen herself that perfectly summed up her marriage with Philip.
“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," the caption read.