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Look back at Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth's 73-year love story

From the start of their long marriage, the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and the late Prince Philip was a match for the ages. TODAY looks back on their decades-long love affair.
/ Source: TODAY

It was a love story that played out in front of the world across seven decades. And with it, the world saw a couple who couldn't take their eyes off each other.

On Friday, the royal family announced that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died at the age of 99, and tributes for the longest-serving consort in British history have begun to pour in.

Queen Elizabeth, 94, and Philip celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020, marking a marriage that lasted longer than any other in the history of the British monarchy.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace in 1947, shortly before their wedding.Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Elizabeth was just 13 in 1939 when, on a family trip, she spotted Philip, an 18-year-old Greek and Danish prince.

Philip was about to enlist in the Royal Navy, and World War II ended up stalling their in-person courtship.

But their romance flourished all the same. Throughout Philip's service, the couple courted each other through letters, and when the prince returned, he asked King George VI for his daughter's hand in marriage.

Elizabeth, then 21, married Philip on Nov. 20, 1947. Their wedding, which took place at Westminster Abbey, was broadcast on the radio around the world.

Elizabeth and Philip after their marriage in 1947Hulton Deutsch / Corbis via Getty Images

After spending the first years of their marriage in Malta, where Philip was stationed as a naval officer, the couple returned to England when King George VI died. The princess became the new monarch in 1953.

"This was something that was revolutionary, frankly," British historian Andrew Roberts told TODAY. "He was a man who was a highly competitive person and for the whole of the rest of (his) life, he's got to stand two or three paces behind the most famous woman in the world."

Elizabeth with Philip and their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Clarence House, the couple's London residence, in August 1951.AP

The couple started a family and went on to have four children, Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

Over the decades, they danced together, met heads of state, hosted countless garden parties and enjoyed their shared love for sports.

Like all couples, Elizabeth and Philip had a relationship filled with joy and some rough patches, too. In one speech, Philip spoke out about the key to keeping their bond strong.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip look at a homemade wedding anniversary card given to them by their great-grandchildren ahead of their 73rd anniversary. CHRIS JACKSON / AFP - Getty Images

“Tolerance is the one central ingredient of any happy marriage — it may be not so important when things are going well but it is absolutely vital when things get difficult," he said.

"You can take it from me, the queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance," he added, prompting laughs from the crowd.

Elizabeth and Philip at the English country house Broadlands on Nov. 20, 2007. The couple spent their honeymoon there 60 years before. Tim Graham / Pool via AP

The queen was clearly enamored with her husband and once called him her "strength and stay all" on their golden wedding anniversary in 1997.

Philip is survived by his wife, four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

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