The Queen's tolerance was 'key' to her long, happy marriage to Prince Philip claims royal expert

The Queen's tolerance of Prince Philip's alleged behavior is believed to be the secret to their enduring relationship, says expert

HM The Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh re-visit Broadlands, to mark their Diamond Wedding Anniversary on November 20. The royals spent their wedding night at Broadlands in Hampshire in November 1947, the former home of Prince Philip's uncle, Earl Mountbatten.
(Image credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images)

The Queen's tolerance was 'key' to her long, happy marriage claims a royal expert and historian Dr Tessa Dunlop. The expert, who penned Elizabeth and Philip: A Story of Young Love, Marriage and Monarchy, reveals the Queen, "understood his need for freedom."


Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's relationship lasted for a remarkable 73 years, up until he died at Windsor Castle on April 9, 2021. Owing to their life as working royals, their marriage was of particular fascination to the general public.

Discussing the secret to their enduring union, Dr Tessa told OK! (opens in new tab) that it was 'tolerance' and that in a way the late monarch was actually quite modern for the time. "The model of their marriage was quite an independent one," she said.

Although the expert's book discusses the royal relationship, she doesn't go too deeply into Philip and his relationship with Penny Knatchbull - which is portrayed in The Crown season 5. However, the expert adds, "but obviously Philip had patterns of behavior which persisted through his life."

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Penelope Knatchbull, Lady Brabourne attend day 3 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show

(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

“The thing about their marriage is, it wasn’t the 1950s companionate marriage that a lot of people went in for where it was all about exclusivity and the housewife waiting for a husband to come home," she explained. "I think we can agree that he enjoyed certain freedoms. The Queen was very good at having her own interests."

As is well documented, Queen Elizabeth II had a love of all things equine, from breeding horses, to riding them, to watching them race, and hedging bets on her own racehorses too. This, along with her busy life as a working royal meant it was easy for her to give him space, "partly because her role demanded it," added the expert.

Independence wasn't the only secret to their unbreakable bond, said Tessa, who credits their iron-clad privacy as a factor that kept them united. That and their genuine adoration and love for each other.

“Oh, she was madly in love with him,” said Tessa. “And I think Philip loved Elizabeth. I’ve never been in any doubt about that. You know, she changed his life. She gave him stability that he never had, she gave him wealth he never had."

Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II with her husband Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, on their wedding day

(Image credit: Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Prince Philip's most controversial quips may never have even had the chance to gain infamy, had they never married. "She gave him a platform he couldn’t have dreamed of," said the expert. "She gave him everything he didn’t have.”

Despite their union being undeniably convenient, this wasn't ever a marriage of convenience, said Tessa. “They were clearly very devoted to each other," she said, adding that doesn't mean every moment was easy. "I think Philip took a while to adjust to his wife being queen. Without a doubt. She got that it was difficult for him. It was a tough old gig. She was empathetic.”

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.