But as their platinum wedding anniversary nears, a new survey has shown that the institution of marriage itself has undergone some of the most sweeping changes during their time together.
In a study which reveals the gradual demise of once-sacrosanct wedding traditions, one in ten young men are now taking the surname of their bride. And while the majority of newlyweds still choose to begin their life together with the husband’s name, the number doing so is falling. Some 97 per cent of couples aged 55 or over used the man’s name, but that falls to just 72 per cent among those aged 18 to 34.
Such findings in the survey of more than 2,000 adults by the London Mint Office, will be of particular interest to the Duke of Edinburgh.
After the Queen’s accession, the monarch declared that the Royal Family’s surname would still be Windsor and not change to Mountbatten, much to Prince Philip’s annoyance. “I’m just a bloody amoeba,” he is said to have shouted, and complained: “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.”
However, that is not the only tradition that is falling by the wayside. The survey also shows that just 37 per cent of young brides wore white for the occasion. Similarly, only 17 per cent of young couples said the bride’s parents paid for the wedding, compared with 30 per cent of those over 55.
But the wedding day is cause for celebration like never before. Couples over 55 invited an average of 48 guests to their wedding, compared with an average of 98 for younger couples.
The royal couple will celebrate their anniversary on 20 November, having married at Westminster Abbey in 1947.
In his golden wedding anniversary speech, Philip cited “tolerance” as the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage.
But according to the survey, other qualities are more important nowadays, with others less so.
Only around a third of Britons (36 per cent) believe monogamy is the key to a successful marriage. The majority (73 per cent) value the importance of showing a partner respect, with 70 per cent stating that a shared sense of humour was essential.
The research coincides with the London Mint Office unveiling a platinum wedding anniversary commemorative coin which bears an image of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke on their wedding day,