The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh: Why 70 years of marriage still matters

By Philip S. Powell 20 Nov 2017
 'Queen and Prince Philip visit to Titanic Belfast' Credit: Titanic Belfast, CC BY 2.0

Today, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip celebrate seventy years of married life.

Queen Elizabeth, who is the longest reigning monarch in British history, has now become the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary, whilst Prince Philip has become the longest serving consort to the British Sovereign.

On a day like today, it is worth stopping to reflect on the bonds of marriage: that mysterious union between a man and woman, where they become ‘one flesh’.

The Queen and Prince Philip were married on the 20th November 1947 and, over the course of the twentieth century, society’s attitudes to marriage, sex, divorce and remarriage have changed drastically. From the 1970s onwards, traditional marriages have been in decline. Three of the four children of the Queen and Prince Philip are now divorced. Cohabitation, children born to unwedded couples and same-sex marriages are now both acceptable and growingly commonplace, whilst stigma towards those who divorce and remarry has decidedly softened.

The changes that have taken places in attitudes and morals between the time when the Royal Couple married and today, when they celebrate their platinum jubilee, are significant indeed.

And yet in the context of growingly transient relationships, collectively we are still deeply moved when we contemplate seventy years of married life. As a nation, we celebrate with the Queen and Prince Philip. Enduringly, there is still something very beautiful about a relationship that has stood the test of time. Why do we, as a society, continue to care about wedding anniversaries? Is a happy marriage still the earthly dream for many people, in spite of a changing culture?

As Christians, we can and should affirm and uphold this longing, felt by many, to enjoy enduring and committed romantic relationships. This is a common ground on which we can publicly defend marriage. Marriage is God-ordained, given to us in creation and set upon the norm of permanence, so that ‘til death do us part’ is inherent to the very institution.[1] Any society that values and champions the exclusivity and permanence of marriage is usually also a society that enjoys prosperity and security, through the wellbeing and flourishing of individuals and families. It is not a stretch to say that good marriages make our world a better place.

As we reflect on the reasons why seventy years of marriage still matter, and how powerfully marriage can still speak to so many across our society, we also have an opportunity to speak into culture.

To gain greater insight into the biblical understanding of marriage, we would recommend the Cambridge Paper written by David & Heather Jackman A Gift of God: biblical reflections on marriage’.

 

[1] 1 Corinthians 7:10 sees Paul asserting the important of permanence in our marriage relationships.

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