The Real Reason Prince Philip Didn't Live With Queen Elizabeth

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth were married on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey. They first met at a family wedding when the future queen was only a child, but were reintroduced as teenagers, at which point the queen reportedly fell in love on the spot. The two were destined to become the longest-married royal couple in British history, and, even 70 years together, royal biographer Ingrid Seward wrote "the queen's face lights up when Philip enters a room" (via The Washington Post).

After the debut of Netflix's "The Crown" in 2016, more people began eyeballing the royal pair and exploring the details of their life together. If you've watched it, you know. Like the queen, Prince Philip was known for being headstrong and opinionated. In public, the Duke of Edinburgh was often frightfully unafraid of speaking his mind, perhaps because he knew his place: that of the country's most famous stay-at-home husband. The year he retired, in 2017, the prince made headlines for joking that he was "the world's most experienced plaque-unveiler" (via Telegraph). 

One tidbit about the queen and Prince Philip that is unlikely to ever be portrayed in "The Crown," as reported by the Daily Beast, is that the prince moved out of Buckingham Palace late in his life, and into a farm manager's cottage at the royal residence, Sandringham. He reportedly stopped living with the queen after retiring from public life at the age of 96. Fans of the Netflix series, of course, will recall that Prince Philip is not portrayed as being particularly fond of Buckingham.

Who's idea was it for Philip to move out?

In 2020, as COVID-19 swept through the UK, Marie Claire reported that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had reunited to live together at Windsor Castle, for the first time in two years. In truth, Prince Philip was most likely at his happiest when not living with the queen. When he retired, gossip columns ran a story suggesting that the move had been, in part, the queen's idea. "She knows him too well, if he was still at the center of royal life he'd feel he had to be involved. Being at Wood Farm means he's not too far away, but far enough to be able to relax," an anonymous source told the media at the time (via Woman & Home).

Daily Beast whispered that the prince once compared Buckingham Palace's architecture to that of a hospital. Certainly, as editor of Royal Central, Charlie Proctor, told Daily Star, the palace was never a place where the Duke of Edinburgh could get R&R. It was, per Proctor, "viewed as a workplace by the Duke. It is in the middle of noisy Central London, and perhaps doesn't offer the same peaceful tranquility as Windsor Castle or Sandringham House." But moving out of Buckingham and into a farmhouse didn't mean that Prince Philip gave up the luxuries of royal life. In fact, Daily Star reported that the prince had a house of staff to attend to his needs, including two pages, a footman, a chef, a housekeeper, a valet, and a security detail. 

Prince Philip reportedly longed for a 'simpler life'

While Prince Philip may not have lived with the queen during his retirement, they never lost touch. In 2019, The Express reported that the Duke of Edinburgh and his wife spoke daily via telephone. And if the news that Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth technically lived separately might surprise some, royal followers know that the pair have often spoken of wanting to live a life that's less formal than the one full of media attention and official responsibilities handed to them. In fact, when she could, the queen joined Prince Philip at his quieter home of choice.

Penny Junor, the author of "The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown," told the Daily Beast that the couple was always this way. "They [were] very modest. They like[d] being in a smaller, cozier house, and not having to have all the staff. We may dream of living in palace surrounded by flunkies, but they dream[t] of being like us." 

During his retirement, Philip spent his days picking up his great-grandkids and driving them around in carriage, according to a sweet picture and tribute that Prince William posted. He also enjoyed reading and watercolor painting (via Mirror). Finally, he likely spent ample time at the grill. As Robert Hardman wrote in his biography on Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh was "brilliant and "innovative" at grilling (via The Scotsman). The prince "would relish the prospect of setting up his barbecue in the unlikeliest spots and cooking anything that took his fancy."