The Surprising Word Prince Philip Once Used to Explain his Marriage

At a celebratory golden wedding anniversary luncheon in 1997, the late Prince Philip—who was married to his beloved wife Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years—made the following remark: “I think the main lesson we have learnt is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage…you can take it from me that the queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”

The quote is a chapter opener in royal expert Victoria Murphy’s new book, The Queen: A Life in Pictures, which looks back at the queen’s impressive reign, but also spends some time reflecting on the relationship between her and Philip, the man she once referred to as her “strength and stay.”

As a royals expert and relationship writer, I had to admit this felt surprising. After all, tolerance isn’t a word that often gets used as an attribute of a successful marriage. Doesn’t it imply…simply gritting one’s teeth and getting through something? Not necessarily, say the experts.

“Tolerance in good relationships is when both people let go of things that aren’t possible and are learning to be happy and content with what they have,” explains William Schroeder, co-owner and a counselor at Just Mind, LLC. “You have to find a way to accept and admire what you have as opposed to focusing on what you don’t have. This means letting go of emotional accounting of one another’s faults.”

Schroeder’s colleague, David Jenkins offers an additional insight: “One of the key things to consider is what a lack of tolerance in a marriage would look like. Almost anything you come up with—blaming, judging, feeling disgust—will lead you to the reason human beings often carry unresolved conflicts.”

Still, there is one critical detail that could end up being more important than tolerance in the long run, says Jenkins. It needs to be paired with acceptance. “Tolerance is putting up with something undesirable in another, whereas acceptance is dropping the judgment altogether and taking the person as they are.”

So is tolerance the secret to many, many years of wedded bliss? The proof’s in the length of the royal marriage, perhaps.

Here’s Why the Death of Prince Philip Hits a Little Different for Me

Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
read full bio

Why You Should Trust Us

PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.