Thursday 22 August 2019

Queen gives prince rare 70th wedding anniversary honour

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Photo: PA
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Photo: PA

Laura Elston in London

Britain's Queen Elizabeth has presented Prince Philip with a rare honour as a special anniversary present as they celebrate 70 years of marriage.

As the royal couple reached their milestone platinum wedding anniversary, the queen appointed her husband a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) for services to the sovereign.

The touching gesture will be seen as the queen's recognition of the devotion he has shown through the decades, supporting her publicly and privately.

The prince (96) retired from his public role in the summer after years of royal duty alongside the monarch.

He is the longest serving royal consort in British history, and the queen, the nation's longest reigning monarch, is the first to celebrate a 70th wedding anniversary.

Awards in the Royal Victorian Order are made personally by the queen and bestowed independently of Downing Street.

The monarch presented the prince with the honour at Windsor Castle, where they are marking their anniversary privately.

They celebrated with close family and friends at a special dinner at the Berkshire residence last night.

The prince is already a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (KG), a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle (KT) and a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE).

Now with his GCVO he will have four UK order of chivalry breast stars. The last UK citizen to equal this was his uncle Lord Mountbatten of Burma.

He also has many other honours including the Order of Merit (OM), Order of New Zealand (ONZ), and Knight, Order of Australia (AK).

The queen was a 21-year-old princess when she married her consort Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey.

Together, the couple have celebrated the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees of the queen's reign, and faced ups and downs over the years including the breakdown of three of their four children's marriages, and the backlash which followed the death of Princess Diana.

Bells at the historic Abbey in central London rang out in tribute yesterday, with a full celebratory peal lasting around three hours and 20 minutes.

The couple attended thanksgiving services at the Abbey to commemorate their silver, golden and diamond wedding anniversaries, but this occasion is not being marked which such a service.

Prime Minister Theresa May sent her congratulations on their "special" anniversary, while other messages came from the Women's Institute, of which the queen has been a member since 1943.

Irish Independent

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