Celebrations kicked off yesterday to mark the diamond wedding anniversary of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who married 60 years ago this week.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh walk at Broadlands in Romsey, southern England in this undated photograph taken in 2007. The Queen and Prince Philip will mark their diamond wedding anniversary with a special service of thanksgiving on November 19, 2007.
Queen Elizabeth - the first British monarch to celebrate a diamond wedding anniversary - was a 21-year-old princess when she married 26-year-old naval officer Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947.
She ascended to the throne in 1952 upon the death of her father, King George VI.
Yesterday, Buckingham Palace released official anniversary photographs showing the queen and Philip, arms linked. The photos were taken earlier this year at Broadlands, the stately home in southern England where they spent their wedding night in 1947.
Later yesterday, Prince Charles hosted a banquet in his parents' honor. Today, more than 2,000 people - including senior royals and Prime Minister Gordon Brown - are due to fill Westminster Abbey for a service celebrating the anniversary.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will lead prayers, second in line to the throne Prince William will give a reading and actress Judi Dench will read verses written for the occasion by poet laureate Andrew Motion.
The guest list includes 20 ordinary Britons who married on the same day as the queen and prince.
Philip was born into the Greek royal family and is related to many of Europe's royal clans. Relatives from the German side of his family also are scheduled to attend today's service. They were not invited to the wedding in 1947 because of British hostility to its recently defeated World War II enemy.
A Royal Collection handout photograph shows Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh walking in the grounds of Broadlands in southern England, the home of the Duke's uncle, Earl Mountbatten on their honeymoon, November 1947.
On the couple's golden anniversary in 1997, Elizabeth praised her husband as "my strength and stay."
Philip - renowned for his blunt and occasionally politically incorrect comments over the years - praised his wife's character. "I think the main lesson that we have learned is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage," he said.
"You can take it from me that the queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance."
The Royal Mail issued a series of postage stamps to mark the diamond anniversary, and the Royal Mint has produced 21 jewel-encrusted Faberge eggs adorned with the couple's names. The mint said all 21 of the eggs - made from red enamel set with 18-carat gold and diamonds and priced at 29,950 pounds (US$61,000) apiece - have been reserved by buyers.
The royal couple will spend tomorrow on a private visit to Malta, where Philip was based with the navy in the early years of their marriage.
Princess Elizabeth, now Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, now Prince Philip, at London's Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony on November 20, 1947.
(China Daily November 19, 2007)