Prince Philip, 96, and Queen Elizabeth II, 91, have a storied history: the third cousins met in 1939 when they were just 18 and 13 and began corresponding via mail five years later. In July 1947, they announced their engagement; they married that November. The following fall, they welcomed their son Prince Charles, followed by their daughter, Princess Anne, in August 1950 – before Elizabeth took the crown from her late father in February 1952.
More recently, weeks after the royal couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, the second season of The Crown, which depicts a fictional account of the royal couple’s early years, stirred old rumours of Prince Philip’s infidelity. Although there’s no concrete evidence that he was unfaithful with the ballerina implicated by Crown writers, Philip may have had “full-blown affairs” with women who were “younger than him, usually beautiful and highly aristocratic,” according to biographer Sarah Bradford, author of Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life in Our Times. The palace has denied it, as have several of the Prince’s alleged mistresses, according to a 2004 investigative report published in The Telegraph. And their marriage has endured.
It’s tough to get a read on what really goes on behind the palace gates — and it’s not just because the couple’s public appearances are carefully orchestrated. “They’re not just royals who have to follow different rules regarding etiquette,” says North Carolina-based body-language expert Blanca Cobb of the queen and her partner. “They were raised in a different generation when the kind of PDA you see today might have been less socially acceptable.”
With that in mind, Cobb examines the couple’s interactions over the past seven decades: