Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, 99, have travelled extensively together during their lifetime. The Duke of Edinburgh proved an invaluable presence on some of the Queen’s early royal tours, according to authors. This is said to be due to Philip’s natural, easy-going charm which didn’t come so easily to the young Elizabeth.
Before she ascended to the throne, in 1951, Elizabeth and Philip travelled to Canada.
However, the monarch, who was concerned about her ill father, did not make a good impression.
“In Canada crowds wildly applauded Prince Philip but criticised the Princess for her unsmiling look,” wrote Bradford.
Time magazine reported at the time: “Instead of the poised and charming beauty most Canadians had expected, she was nervous and inarticulate.
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Bradford explained: “Apart from worrying about her father, she had not yet discovered the skill with crowds that came so easily to her mother and husband.”
In contrast to the Queen, the public loved the easy-going Philip who did not seem to struggle in the public eye.
The monarch’s smile drew particular negative attention.
“Queen Elizabeth’s smile had become her trademark (she was nicknamed ‘Grinners’ by some of her more irreverent friends), while handsome Prince Philip always found it easy to adopt a relaxed democratic attitude in public,” said Bradford.
Eventually, though, Elizabeth did warm to her role. “As the tour wore on, however, the Princess started to relax and the crowds became more and more enthusiastic,” said Bradford.
Prince Philp also served to help Elizabeth up when they travelled together.
In 1953, after the Queen’s coronation, the couple spent six months travelling forty thousand miles around the world to visit twelve countries in 1953.
Still early on in her reign, Elizabeth still hadn’t mastered the art of small talk – but it was quite the opposite for Philip.
“Highly disciplined, Elizabeth could stand for hours in the sun and ride a horse side-saddle for miles,” wrote Kitty Kelley in her 1997 book The Royals.
“But interacting with people and having to make small talk with strangers for an extended period of time was a burden.”
In comparison, “[the Queen’s] gregarious husband enjoyed bantering with others and being flirtatious,” said Kelley.
According to reporter Gwen Robyns, who was part of the small press contingent accompanying the monarch on the 1953 tour, Philip “was truly marvellous” for his wife.
“Philip was perfect for her and she was blindingly in love with him,” Kelley quotes Robyns.
“She was so young and unsure of herself as Queen. Very, very self-conscious as a monarch. Painfully insecure. She did not know how to act or behave among so many people.
“But [Philip] was smooth and easy, more sophisticated. He’d jolly her into good humour, and warm her up for the crowds. She’d put on a grumpy face most of the time because she was overwhelmed, but he’d coax a smile out of her.”
Robyns added: “We could see he was truly marvellous for her. She brightened up around him… He really carried her on that trip.”