Yet he almost didn’t get the gig.
By all accounts 13-year-old Lilibet, as she was then known, was instantly smitten when she spotted the 19-year-old cadet during a tour of the Royal Navy College in Dartmouth, Devon. As her governess Marion “Crawfie” Crawford would later write, the then-princess “never took her eyes off” the 6-foot blonde with intense blue eyes and chiseled features, although, he “did not pay her any special attention.”
As far as he was concerned, he would tell biographer Basil Boothroyd, “It was a very amusing experience, going on board the yacht and meeting them, and that sort of thing, and that was that.”
Nevertheless, Elizabeth, the presumptive future queen, had made her choice. Her cousin Margaret Rhodes would later detail in her autobiography that Elizabeth “was truly in love from the very beginning.”
It was a sentiment Philip’s uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, would echo in a letter to Charles years later, writing, “Mummy never seriously thought of anything else after the Dartmouth encounter.”