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And so it remained for almost 74 years of wedlock. The four years and two months before Elizabeth’s father died in 1952 were especially blissful – latterly with Philip in command of a ship based in Malta and Elizabeth able to be a naval wife during extended visits. Charles and Anne were born in 1948 and 1950 respectively. Clarence House was refurbished as a cosy pad and they had a country place at Windlesham in Surrey.

At her coronation on 2 June 1953, Elizabeth was anointed as well as crowned. She swore to uphold the reformed Protestant religion and, viewing the established Church of England as a bulwark for all faiths, she really did see being the Sovereign as a sacral, religious trust, an almost priestly role. She was a woman of deep religious faith, who prayed daily and almost never missed church on Sunday.

At the coronation, Philip paid homage and swore to be her ‘liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship’. In private, they could argue fiercely; in the mid-1950s, there were rumours of a rift, but never any proof. The two boys Andrew (born in 1960) and Edward (1964) were much-loved younger children, whose adult homes were both close to their mother on the Windsor estate (while Anne and Charles have their main family homes in Gloucestershire, at Gatcombe Park and Highgrove respectively). As children, they all had daily slots in their parents’ diaries and long, blissful holidays and weekends at Windsor, Balmoral and Sandringham. Only Charles, in his mid-1990s despair, spoke of his mother’s emotional distance, but they became much closer and those who know the palaces intimately say the family atmosphere was usually one of laughter, chat, happiness.

However, there is no doubt that the Queen was a busy mother and found it difficult to delve deep into family problems, not least when three of her children’s marriages failed. But she was a devoted and immensely relaxed granny, not least as her travel schedule reduced.

Elizabeth and Philip, sharing a strange life, were the best of best friends. I myself have seen her become sparkier when he entered a room, and he would tidy his hair, and adjust his buttons and tie as she approached.

The Queen and Prince Philip with their children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward in 1965

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