On July 22, 1939, 18-year-old Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark sat down to lunch at the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.
The towering naval cadet been invited to dine with members of the British royal family. Among them was his third-cousin, a reserved 13-year-old girl they called 'Lilibet'.
The teens had crossed paths twice before; at the 1934 wedding of Prince George, Duke of Kent, and at the coronation King George VI in 1937. But by multiple accounts, the girl was fascinated by him that summer day. Though the prince paid her "no special attention", the girl's governess said she "never took her eyes off him."
Fourteen years later, that girl became Queen Elizabeth II, the sovereign leader of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, then more than one-fifth of the global population.
Throughout her record-breaking reign, that same towering prince has been beside her, or at least — as protocol dictates — one step behind.
Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth's courtship was one conducted largely from afar.
With World War II pulling the prince to combat in the Mediterranean and Pacific, he managed only the occasional visit to his cousins at Windsor Castle during periods of leave. In the stretches between, he and the princess corresponded by letter, and affection took hold.
In 1946, he wrote to her, "To have been spared in the war and seen victory, to have been given the chance to rest and to re-adjust myself, to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one's personal and even the world's troubles seem small and petty."