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Bolted Privacy. Soon Elizabeth was peppering her handsome cousin with letters. On the rare occasions when he would deign to reply, she would race to the nearest lavatory in search of the only guaranteed privacy available, bolt the door, and read her letter in ecstatic solitude. Philip went on to graduate (in 1939) from the Naval College at the top of his class and to win a coveted prize as the best all-round midshipman. Thirteen months later he handled a searchlight battery so alertly in a point-blank naval engagement between British and Italians that he earned a mention in dispatches.
Good-looking young naval officers are seldom left long to twiddle their thumbs in loneliness ashore, and it is certain that Philip was no exception. "He was adorable," says one of the dozens of young Australian girls Philip met when he was executive officer of the destroyer Whelp on duty in the South Pacific. "We were all absolutely crazy about him." But it is equally certain that, during the same period, Philip's manly face, adorned with a full foliage of whiskers, was framed in silver in a prominent spot on Elizabeth's dressing table back home. Back in England at war's end, like many another Navy regular, Philip was put on shore duty. His small black M.G. with its green seats was soon setting new records for the gS-mile trip from Corsham, Wilts, to London, and between a bachelor's gay rounds 'of West End's nightspots, its destination was often Buckingham Palace.
Life with Father. Under such garish headlines as WAS IT A LOVE MATCH? and WHO ASKED WHOM?, the sob sisters of two continents have been making foolish speculations about Philip's and Elizabeth's romance ever since. It is obvious that the elder daughter of Britain's King could not sit around her palace all day like, a college girl in a dormitory, hoping somebody would call for a date. It is equally obvious to anyone who knows Philip that he is not the type to submit meekly to the dictates of a dynastic manage de convenance. "This young couple," wrote Philip's ex-valet John Dean, who may or may not know, "were in love." Whatever the truth of that, it is known that Philip and Elizabeth decided to marry after a weekend spent together with her family at Balmoral Castle, and that Elizabeth's father strongly disapproved.
Despite Philip's British background and his fine war record, George VI was deeply worried about how British opinion, particularly its left wing, would take to a Greek Prince as the husband of the heiress presumptive. There was also something about his daughter's brash young man with his loud, boisterous laugh and his blunt, seagoing manners that irritated the gentle King. Besides, the fellow couldn't shoot.
There was many a tense moment for George as Elizabeth moped about in tearful martyrdom while her mother and grandmother, the doughty old Queen Mary, fought her battle for her. At last George decided that the young couple (she was 20, he 25) should wait six months to make sure of each other. Philip's uncle, Lord Louis (now Earl) Mountbatten, who had hoped for the marriage all along, got busy at the King's request, sounding out public opinion and smoothing the political path to romance. A public-opinion poll of the Sunday Pictorial soon showed 64% of its readers in favor of the marriage.