How the Queen Fought to Marry the Love of Her Life, Prince Philip

Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten after the announcement of their engagement in July 1947

Queen Elizabeth had to fight for the love of her life.

Whispering courtiers – along with Elizabeth’s father King George VI – had reservations about Philip Mountbatten, a young, dashing naval officer. But the young Elizabeth only ever had eyes for Prince Philip. And 72 years after their royal wedding, the couple is still going strong.

Biographer Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen, tells PEOPLE, “She fell in love at age 18 and she never looked at anyone else.”

The royal couple’s love story was portrayed in the first season of the Netflix hit The Crown. “One of Elizabeth’s greatest achievements is being allowed to marry the love of her life. Like any marriage, it would undertake endless recalibration and navigation and re-negotiation,” says executive producer Suzanne Mackie.

The late Sir Edward Ford, who was assistant private secretary from 1952-67, has confirmed the skittishness felt by the older guard. He previously told PEOPLE, “Some were very concerned. The line was slightly tenuous at that point. So, it was only natural that the older generation — friends of the King like Lord Salisbury — were concerned that who the Queen was with was totally and utterly suitable. So they were sniffing around to see what he was like.”

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But Ford noted that Philip always had an inner confidence. “He was a perfectly natural young sailor and very much in love with the girl of the house. But he would not in any way fawn on the elders and say, ‘What a suitable husband I am going to be.’ He was very much his own man.”

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