Queen forced to rebound on Prince Philip after ‘unrequited’ crush left her heartbroken
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The Queen had reportedly told Ms Fitzalan Howard she “adored” Hugh Fitzroy, then the Earl of Euston, whom she had met while he served in the Grenadier Guards in the 1930s. According to Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, the royal author noted how Fitzroy had been the subject of several talks with then-Princess Elizabeth as they both had expressed an interest in the charming 22-year-old. But Ms Fitzalan Howard suggested the pair was both in for heartbreak as the Earl showed no sign of sharing the feelings of either girl.
In the diary she kept during her stay at Windsor during the war, she wrote: “I’m sure Hugh prefers Lilibeth to me. He is not in love with her, but her attentions make him happy.”
Talking about the chats had with the Queen about Fitzroy, the author added: “Came in and had baths, then P.E. and I sat on the floor in her room by the window, watching people and gossiping.
“We talked about Hugh and other men, and in the intimacy of her bedroom we talked more freely than ever before, as she is naturally v. reserved, but tonight she seemed as if she liked a friend to talk to. She has lovely eyes.”
But by the time 1942 rolled around, Princess Elizabeth appeared to have moved on to Prince Philip, whom she had met in 1939 and was reported to have struck her as a perfect match.
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Ms Fitzalan Howard at the time also wrote she might ask for the princess’s help to win over the Earl of Euston but struggled to catch her alone to put forward her request in private.
She added: “Hugh is returning to Windsor. I could not help thinking God must mean something, either for P.E. or myself, by sending him back. If only I could get her to work for me to bring us together.
“She has got Philip and if I let her know seriously that she alone can help me, the idea might appeal to her — but I hardly ever see her without Margaret or Crawfie and one can only treat it as a joke then.”
But hopes for a relationship between the author and the Earl of Euston collapsed four years later when Hugh Fitzroy married Ann Fortune Smith, who later became Mistress of the Robes to the Queen.
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Royal historian Dr Kate Williams said: “The courtiers, the household, the Royal Family, even Government, there was a feeling that he just wasn’t the right character for the job.
“It was said he was ill-tempered, that he was rough and he was not inclined to be faithful.
“Really, I think a lot of the criticism of Philip was because the knew the couldn’t tell him what to do. That he was such an independent man.”
King George VI ultimately put their relationship to the test as he whisked off Elizabeth for a tour of South Africa in 1947 to allow the princess to have a bit of adventure before deciding whether to settle down.
But the couple did not back down and ultimately secure permission from the King to marry, which they did at Westminster Cathedral in November that same year.
The Queen and Prince Philip went on to have four children and will be celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary next month.
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