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he Duke of Edinburgh, who turns 95 on 10 June, has always hated fuss when it comes to anything pertaining to himself. He dislikes things he has no control over and his age is just one of those things. Of course he refuses to give in to it and during the Queen’s 90th birthday walkabout in Windsor he lifted a boy over a crowd barrier so that he could hand his flowers to the monarch in person.

   The next day he drove the Obamas from their helicopter to Windsor Castle for lunch. It must have caused the Secret Service some anxiety to see their President and First Lady being driven away by a nonagenarian.

   A rare handwritten missive from the Queen, penned when she was a 21-year-old Princess, which came up for auction recently noted that ‘Philip enjoys driving and does it fast!’ The letter, written to author Betty Spencer Shew in 1947, refers to that well-documented meeting with the Prince, often alleged to be their first, soon after Elizabeth had entered her teens.

   ‘The first time I remember [underlined] meeting Philip was at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in 1939, just before the war. (We may have met before at the Coronation or the Duchess of Kent’s wedding, but I don’t remember). I was 13 years of age and he was 18 and a cadet just due to leave. He joined the navy at the outbreak of war and I only saw him very occasionally when he was on leave – I suppose twice in three years.’

   She describes how it became ‘inevitable’ they would marry, although it had to be delayed. ‘We had thought about getting married, but we couldn’t and didn’t do anything about it till after the South African visit – partly because of going abroad, and partly because I wasn’t 21. When we did return home, I can’t really remember, but I don’t think anybody thought much about “consent” – it was inevitable.’

   The successful bidder paid just under £15,000 for the letter, well above its modest estimate. Royal letters always have an inflated value especially when social media renders handwritten missives a comparative rarity.

   Prince Harry, who promoted his Invictus Games with great eloquence in recent weeks – including a spoof Twitter spat with the Queen and the Obamas – has spoken of his worries that many young people are depending on their handheld screens for interaction with friends.

   His outspokenness on a variety of subjects is reminiscent of how his father used to be and how his grandfather still is. He and William, who celebrates his 34th birthday on 21 June, want to organise a permanent memorial to their mother for the 20th anniversary of her death next year.

   On Friday 10 June the Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip and their extended family, will attend a national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, the first of three major engagements to mark her 90th birthday. The next day the monarch will be on parade at Trooping the Colour, and on the Sunday will be in The Mall for The Patron’s Lunch, which honours the unrelenting support she has given to the community for 64 years.

   We too have cause to celebrate: Majesty is now available in digital format! Please see page 25 [or the Subscribe page on this website] for details.

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