THE Queen and Prince Philip today celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.
This is the “blue sapphire” anniversary, a milestone few marriages reach. The attribution of the blue sapphire to this anniversary is particularly apposite, because, the oldest stone in the Imperial State Crown is a blue sapphire which once belonged to King Edward the Confessor, the king who built Westminster Abbey where the royal couple were married. It sits in the centre of the small cross on top of the crown. Just as the blue sapphire sits at the heart of the Imperial State Crown, so the blue sapphire marriage anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip sits at the heart of our national life.
The Queen’s wedding to Prince Philip on November 20, 1947 marked the beginning of one of the great marriage partnerships of modern times. It has become one of the great fixed points in the United Kingdom’s history, a still and sure centre around which our nation has revolved through the past six-and-a-half decades. They have been decades of change that saw our nation transformed from being an Empire to being a thoroughly modern state, still playing a significant part on the world stage.
The Queen has paid tribute to Prince Philip as her “constant strength and guide” through these past 65 years. The solidarity and resilience of their marriage partnership, through good times and bad, is a testament to the importance of the marriage bond in our modern world. It is a beacon of steadiness in a period of change and uncertainty.
The nation has much for which to thank Her Majesty and Prince Philip. They personify this country to the world, a real and tangible yet intensely personal presence on the world stage. They represent tradition, yes, but in an unstuffy way, a way that allows the Queen to still make the world smile when her irrepressible sense of humour shines through.
The Duke’s immense personal contribution to the nation, his constancy as the father figure of our royal family, his place in the affections of our people, not least those who have completed his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – and there are so many – all of this is part of his enduring legacy.
The Queen’s wisdom, her sense of duty, her graciousness and affability all contribute to the nation’s great love for her.
Together this royal team have given us so much. They have dedicated their lives to our nation who, I firmly believe, love and respect them in return. So we wish them both a happy anniversary and, as they look back on the joy of 1947, they should know they have the nation’s love, loyalty and thanks.
Sam Gardiner is an Ulster Unionist MLA for Upper Bann