Platinum Wedding Anniversary

20 November 2017

The 20th of November 2017 marks the 70th Anniversary of the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Seventy years makes it their Platinum Anniversary and for this special occasion our Assistant Curator Georgina shows us examples of decorated telegrams and stamp issues celebrating the couple’s wedding anniversaries.

Princess Elizabeth met Philip Mountbatten in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark to Prince George, the Duke of Kent. At the age of 13, the Queen began to exchange letters with Prince Philip and a blossoming romance ensued. They became secretly engaged in 1946 but were asked to wait by King George VI until Elizabeth’s twenty first birthday. The engagement ring Philip presented to Queen Elizabeth was made from a tiara owned by his mother, Princess Alice of Greece and Denmark and crafted by London jeweller – Philip Antrobus.

Image of the cancellation designed for the Royal Wedding consisting of the couples initials in a lovers knot.

Cancellation design by R.H. Higgins for the Royal Wedding

There was talk of producing a stamp for the Royal wedding but due to time constraints, this wasn’t possible and instead a postmark was designed. The issued slogan postmark for the Royal Wedding linked their initials within a lovers knot as you can see in the image above. The slogan was used in Post Offices from the 20th of November to the end of the month.

Stamp depicting the fan vaulted ceiling in Westminster Abbey.

Vaulted Ceiling, 2s 6d, 900th Anniversary of Westminster Abbey, 1966.

They married on the 20th of November 1947 in Westminster Abbey with 2,000 guests and 200 million people worldwide listening to the radio broadcast. The Queen arrived at Westminster Abbey in the Irish State Coach accompanied by her father King George VI. She wore a dress designed by Norman Hartnell produced from material bought on ration coupons. The dress was adorned with flowers inspired by Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’ and had a 15-foot train. After the ceremony, officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and York, the married couple proceeded to Buckingham Palace where they waved to crowds from the Royal balcony.

Decorated telegram that documents the relationship of a couple.

Greeting telegram by Kathleen Atkins, 1942.

The royal couple received more than 10,000 telegrams congratulating them on their nuptials. In our collection – here at The Postal Museum – we have numerous examples of decorated telegrams that would have been sent to bride and grooms. The above image headed ‘Greetings’, documents the progression of the couple’s relationship from falling in love to the wedding, having children and eventually growing old together.

Stamp depicting a print of the St Edward's crown.

St Edward’s Crown, 10½p, 25th Anniversary of Coronation, 1978.

The Queen and Prince Philip had two children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne before Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne. Queen Elizabeth along with Prince Philip were in Kenya when they received the news of the death of King George VI. Elizabeth was later crowned on the 2nd of June 1953, the first monarch to perform this ritual in front of television cameras. After her coronation two further children would be added to the royal family, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Two stamps depicting Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for their silver wedding anniversary.

3p, 20p, Silver Wedding Anniversary, 1972

Since taking the throne, the Queen has had many wedding anniversaries, all of which have been celebrated with a stamp issue. From their Silver to Diamond, images of the couple through the ages and that of their family have appeared. I especially like the Diamond Anniversary set which included a miniature sheet of old family photos. Here you can see Her Majesty and Prince Philip holding Charles and Anne in the grounds of Clarence House, 1951.

Miniature sheet consisting of numerous family photos of the Royal family.

Diamond Anniversary, Miniature Sheet (Front), 16th October 2007.

Miniature sheet reverse with black and white photos of the Queen's engagement and wedding.

Diamond Anniversary, Miniature Sheet (Back), 16th October 2007.

Last year we saw for the first time the Queen, accompanied by one of her grandchildren, appear on a miniature sheet together for her 90th birthday. The miniature sheet depicts four generations of the Royal Family and the future of our monarchy. The images were taken in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace by photographer Ranald Mackechnie. To reach the appropriate height Prince George stood on blocks whilst holding his father’s hand.

Miniature sheet of the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George.

HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday, Miniature Sheet, 21st April 2016.

-Georgina Tomlinson, Assistant Curator (Philately)