A Look Inside Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip's Wedding Day

When Prince Philip died on April 9, 2021, it marked the end of his and Queen Elizabeth II's seven-decade love story (according to BBC News).  In 1946 Philip proposed to the queen and after the queen said yes he then asked her father, King George VI, for his daughter's hand in marriage. While he gave them his blessing, the queen wasn't 21 years old at the time, so the world didn't learn about their engagement until July of 1947 after she had turned 21. Four months later the pair were married on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey. BBC Radio even broadcasted the entire ceremony to 200 million listeners from all around the world (via Reader's Digest).

In 1997 the queen and prince celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, and during a luncheon at the Banqueting House in London, England in a now-famous speech —and a rare expression of emotion from a monarch, the queen paid tribute to her husband. "He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments, but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years," said the queen reflecting on their five decades of marriage. "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," (via The Royal Family). Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's marital relationship was one of admiration, respect, and, of course, love. With that said, here's a look back on the royal wedding.

Queen Elizabeth's tiara broke while she was getting ready

All brides, regardless of whether they have royal status or not, want every detail of their wedding to be perfect. However, what's a wedding without some kind of mishap on the big day? Thankfully, Queen Elizabeth II's wedding day wasn't ruined, but she did have a little snafu before the ceremony. According to Marie Claire, the fringe tiara that was loaned to the bride as her traditional "something borrowed" broke as it was being placed on her head. The Telegraph reports that when the tiara broke, the Queen Mother told her upset daughter that they still had "two hours and there are other tiaras." Luckily, the royal jewelry house, Garrard, was waiting in the wings if something like this happened, and the tiara was whisked off to get fixed; for security purposes, it was police-escorted but returned in time for Queen Elizabeth II to wear to her wedding.

A spokesperson for the company Diamondsbyme stated that the tiara had been transformed from another piece of jewelry, sharing, "It was originally a diamond necklace given by Queen Victoria [to Queen Mary] for her wedding day in 1893. According to them, the headdress is worth "£7.5million," (via Express), which is approximately $8.7 million in US dollars (via GBP Currencyrate).

Over 2,000 guests were invited to the royal wedding at Westminster Abbey

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's wedding ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey at 11:30 am on November 20, 1947 (according to Westminster Abbey).  King George VI's eldest daughter would become the tenth member of the royal family to wed at the famous royal church. Towne & Country notes that 2,500 guests attended the most iconic ceremonies in British history. Among those invited were royals from all over the world, including the King of Iraq, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Princess Elisabeth of Luxembourg.

The officiators for the royal wedding were the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York (via ABC News). During the ceremony, 91 singers, some from the Choir of Westminster Abbey sang a few musical sacred selections in addition to the hymn "The Lord's My Shepherd" (via British Pathé). While there weren't many cameras back then, still, there was some fantastic footage from that day, and according to the BBC Archive, the BBC later aired part of the ceremony on television.

The queen had 8 bridesmaids

On Queen Elizabeth's big day, a whopping eight bridesmaids accompanied her as she walked down the aisle to exchange vows with Prince Philip. Amongst them were: Princess Margaret, who was the younger sister of the queen, Queen Elizabeth's first cousins, Princess Alexandra of Kent, and The Hon. Margaret Elphinstone, Lady Elizabeth Lambert, a friend she grew up with, Diana Bowles-Lyon, Lady Caroline, Lady Mary Cambridge, and the Hon. Pamela Mountbatten.

As gifts, the bride-to-be gave all of them silver "Art-Deco" style compact mirrors that were engraved with the couple's initials and crown on the lid alongside a set of five cabochon sapphires (according to Vanity Fair). Lady Pamela Hicks, in an interview with People magazine, took a stroll down memory lane about the royal wedding. "The princess had that marvelous complexion – that skin was so wonderful. She really was radiant, with her diamond tiara on top. And she was very much in love," she recalled of Queen Elizabeth moments before she took Prince Philip's hand in marriage. 

Queen Elizabeth's wedding dress had a 15-foot train

While most brides these days order their wedding gowns nine months to a year or more before the big day, Queen Elizabeth's dress was made less than three months before her nuptials (according to History.com). As was the tradition (according to Cosmopolitan), the queen had her gown made by a British designer, and chosen for the job was Norman Hartnell. It took 350 women to create the stunning detailed dress in time for the queen's wedding. In an interview with Swindon Advertiser, Pat Clark, one of the seamstresses that worked on Queen Elizabeth's gown, shared that all the women had to stay tight-lipped to protect any details pertaining to the dress so nothing about the royal wedding would be leaked to the press. Clark also stated that Hartnell took measures to make sure nobody was able to look into his windows to get a sneak peek. 

Queen Elizabeth's breathtaking wedding dress was made from ivory silk satin (also known as duchess satin).  Lady Pamela Hicks also during her interview with People magazine, recalled that the material was not easy to obtain back then. The queen's satin gown was covered in 10,000 seed pearls with intricate embroidered flowers and leaf patterns at the bottom and had a 15-foot train that was attached at the shoulders (via Time magazine). Lady Pamela Hicks stated to the publication that Queen Elizabeth, "With her bridal dress and tiara on..was a knockout."

Queen Elizabeth's bouquet was laced with royal tradition

Queen Elizabeth's wedding bouquet was heavily influenced by royal history. The queen's bouquet was made of a sprig of myrtle and white orchids, a tradition started by Queen Victoria when she got married (via the Daily Mail). While the queen carried the huge bouquet down the aisle, somehow, not long after she said "I Do," her wedding flowers went missing, never to be seen again. All the photos the bride took after the ceremony did not have her beautiful bouquet present. Also, unfortunately, Queen Elizabeth wasn't able to follow the tradition begun by her mother, who famously placed her own wedding bouquet on the Grave of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey (via Westminster Abbey).

According to Express, during an interview with ITV, the son of the florist Martin Longman, who made Queen Elizabeth's wedding bouquet, recalled the incident and shared that his father had to make the same bouquet again so that new wedding photos could be taken. "Halfway through their honeymoon, Princess and Prince Philip came back to the Palace. She put her wedding dress on again, and he put his naval uniform on, and then they had the photographs, just the two of them," stated David Longman. Following the mishap, a new tradition sprung up; for all royal weddings, a backup arrangement is now on hand, so this doesn't happen again.

Queen Elizabeth's wedding rings had deep family ties

When Prince Philip proposed to Queen Elizabeth, he presented her with a breathtaking platinum-and-diamond engagement ring. The design of the queen's ring was a royal family affair. When Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, knew that her son wanted to propose to his girlfriend, she gave him the tiara she wore on her wedding day so he could use the diamonds from it to create the ring. The prince designed the 3ct. ring with the help of British jeweler Philip Antrobus Ltd (according to Town & Country).

When it came to the wedding band Prince Philip kept with royal tradition. The wedding ring itself was made out of welsh gold, which is the tradition that started with the queen's mother (via Express). As reported by Town & Country, Prince Philip had a hidden message engraved on the inside of the queen's engagement ring. However, what it says has been a closely guarded secret since the queen never took off her ring. According to the royal biographer Ingrid Seward in her book "Prince Philip: Revealed" she writes, "No one knows what it says, other than the engraver, the Queen and her husband." The queen's wedding band will be one of only two pieces of jewelry she'll be buried with, in addition to a pair of pearl earrings.

After the ceremony there was a wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace

After the ceremony of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, a royal wedding breakfast was held at Buckingham Palace (via Vanity Fair). Even though the country was still under rationing in 1947, the menu was still rather lavish. Some dishes served were a filet de sole Mountbatten (a fish dish named after the groom), green beans, and pommes noisette (via the royal family website), which are puréed potatoes made into little balls, according to The Staff Canteen. Also served to the guests was a bombe glacée Princess Elizabeth (named after the bride), a dome-shaped ice cream dessert. The one at the queen's reception was made with strawberries (via Brides). The fruit was considered a delicacy at the time because it was November, and they were out of season.

Cobina Wright, a former society hostess of prominence, who later turned to journalism, was front and center for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's reception. Wright wrote about the event and stated, "One of the most gorgeous sights I have ever seen in my life was the truly magnificent reception given by Their Majesties the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace" (according to The New Yorker).

King George VI did not give a speech at the wedding breakfast

According to the "Queen and Consort: Elizabeth and Philip: 60 Years of Marriage," the king didn't want Queen Elizabeth to have to sit through a long speech like he and his wife did when they married. So, instead, he penned a letter and gave it to his daughter after the wedding.

The heartfelt letter reads: "I was so proud and thrilled at having you so close to me on our long walk in Westminster Abbey. But when I handed your hand to the Archbishop, I felt I had lost something very precious." He says, "You were so calm and composed during the service and said your words with such conviction that I knew everything was alright. I have watched you grow up all these years with pride under the skillful direction of Mummy, who, as you know, is the most marvelous person in the world in my eyes, and I can, I know, always count on you, and now Philip, to help us in our work." The king concluded his letter with the sweetest words: "Your leaving us has left a great blank in our lives. But do remember that your old home is still yours and do come back to it as much and as often as possible. I can see that you are sublimely happy with Philip, which is right, but don't forget us is the wish of your ever loving and devoted Papa" (via Good Housekeeping).

The wedding cake was 9 feet tall

At Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's reception, guests feasted on a four-tier wedding cake that stood 9 feet tall and weighed 500 pounds. The lavish dessert was the brainchild of Mr. Frederick Schur, the chief confectioner at McVitie & Price. In 1947 severe food rationing was still in place in Britain, so many of the ingredients for the masterpiece came from all over the world, earning it the nickname the "10,000-mile cake." According to Le Cordon Bleu, who replicated the queen's wedding cake in 2017, the flour for the cake came from Canada, the butter from New Zealand, sugar from Barbados, rum from Jamaica, and brandy from Australia.

The Australian Girl Guides is a non-profit organization whose mission is "empowering girls and young women to discover their potential as leaders of their world." Since they considered Queen Elizabeth an active member of their group, they chipped in and provided dried fruit for the cake, including currants and cherries.

The cake that the newlyweds cut using a sword given to them as a wedding present was artfully decorated, and two of the cake tiers represented scenes from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's lives (via the royal family website). The colossal cake made 2,000 slices (which is quite a lot) with many of them sent to multiple charitable organizations (via Hello! magazine). Per Reader's Digest, royals save the top tier of a wedding cake and later serve it during the christenings of their children.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip received over 2,500 wedding gifts

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip didn't create a traditional wedding registry, but according to the royal family's official website, the couple received "over 2,500 gifts and around 10,000 telegrams" in celebration of their big day. According to Marie Claire, the documentary, "The Majestic Life of Queen Elizabeth II," discusses some of the presents that guests gave the couple. They ranged from the practical pair of stockings to the odd but thoughtful gifts of apples, purses, a massive amount of pineapples, and quite a few bottles of alcohol.

Some of the more extravagant gifts bestowed to the newlyweds were a set of crystal stemware from the government of the Netherlands (via YouTube) and a handmade vase from U.S. President Harry S. Truman (via Esquire magazine). There were also lots of jewels passed down to Queen Elizabeth, including the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara from the Queen Mother (via Express), the Menander tiara from Princess Alice (via E! News), and a necklace of rubies from the people of Burma (via ArusJewels). Queen Elizabeth even wore one of her gifts on her wedding day: two strands of pearls given to her by her parents (via the royal family's official website).

Queen Elizabeth's corgi joined the honeymoon

Queen Elizabeth is famous all over the world for being an animal lover, and when it comes to dogs, her heart has always been with corgis. According to Reader's Digest, the queen loved corgis because of their "energy and untamed spirit." Throughout her life, Queen Elizabeth had over 30 corgis. The queen grew up with the breed, and then on her 18th birthday, she was given her own pet corgi named Susan from King George VI. From the very beginning, Elizabeth and Susan became inseparable. After Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip got married, despite it being a time to celebrate as newlyweds, the royal couple wasn't alone on their honeymoon as they brought Susan with them. As reported by the BBC, the beloved corgi was kept hidden in the royal carriage and wrangled herself a spot on the couple's trip to the Balmoral Castle in Scotland.