Written By: Liz Ronk

Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for so long that it can be a bit disconcerting to encounter photographs of her as a bride, or a newlywed. And Elizabeth has always appeared more distant and more removed from the sort of everyday pleasures and pains that define the lives of mere commoners.

But in November 1947, when she wed Prince Philip (born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark), Elizabeth allowed the world to glimpse, briefly, another side a less severe and less purely ornamental side of her life. In photographs made that day, Elizabeth looks like brides all over the world have looked, from time immemorial: a bit nervous, a bit self-conscious, a bit overwhelmed … and happy.

Here, LIFE.com offers a series of photographs—including some that did not originally run in LIFE—made by magazine staffers like Nat Farbman and Frank Scherschel. In an article that ran in the Dec. 1, 1947, issue of LIFE, meanwhile, the magazine’s editors took pains to remind readers that, two years after the end of the Second World War, England and Europe while on the mend from war’s ravages were still, in some regards, reeling from the aftereffects of the conflict.

What’s also so clearly evident in the language of the piece (below) is the enduring respect the magazine’s editors had for what England had achieved when, for a good part of World War II, the island nation had, in essence, stood alone. The verbiage might be over-the-top but the sentiment is straight from the heart.

In the ninth winter of Britain’s austerity the skies cleared for a brief moment last week. Shining through came a fleeting, nostalgic glimpse of an ancient glory and a little pang of hope for better days to come. The Princess the heir to the British throne was taking a husband, and some of the old pomp and pageantry sang out in the land.

[Almost] all of Europe’s vanishing royalty crowded into Westminster Abbey, wearing finery and jewelery which somehow had survived all disaster. It seemed that all of London turned out to see a drama which, if somewhat anachronistic, was nonetheless inspiring. The people crowded along Whitehall to see the procession…. At the Abbey they cheered the arrival of six kings, seven queens and numerous princes and princesses. Over loudspeakers they heard Princess Elizabeth say her vows. For hours they milled around the Palace hoping to see the newlyweds make an appearance on the balcony. Then, feeling somehow as happy as if it had been their own wedding day, they went home, with the quiet reassurance of goodness, tranquility and survival that the British throne means to Britain’s people.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding, Nov. 20, 1947.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding, Nov. 20, 1947.

William Sumits / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess and Prince Philip marry, 1947.

Original caption: “Traditional British reserve is cast aside by these revelers who dance in streets while others stake out claims for vantage points.”

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess and Prince Philip marry, 1947.

Original caption: “Choir boys who came by bus form a line outside Westminster Abbey.”

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess and Prince Philip marry, 1947.

Original caption: “Beefeaters adjust their uniforms.”

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess and Prince Philip marry, 1947.

Original caption: “Immaculate gentlemen-at-arms carry their brightly plumed headgear.”

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess and Prince Philip marry, 1947.

Original caption: “Premiere Jan Christian Smuts represents the Dominion of South Africa.”

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess and Prince Philip marry, 1947.

Original caption: “Queen and King of Denmark arrive.”

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess and Prince Philip marry, 1947.

Original caption: “The Countess Edwina, wife of Earl Mountbatten, is helped from her car.”

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess and Prince Philip marry, 1947.

Original caption: “Servants from the King’s household don gloves before entering the abbey.”

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess and Prince Philip marry, 1947.

Original caption: “An Ethiopian representative pauses before starting into the Abbey.”

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Crowds try to get a glimpse of the royal wedding, London, Nov. 20, 1947.

Crowds try to get a glimpse of the royal wedding, London, Nov. 20, 1947.

Nat Farbman / LIFE Picture Collection

Exterior of Buckingham Palace all lit up on the night of royal wedding, Nov. 20, 1947.

Exterior of Buckingham Palace on the night of royal wedding, Nov. 20, 1947.

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip leave Westminster Abbey after their wedding, Nov. 20, 1947.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip leave Westminster Abbey after their wedding, Nov. 20, 1947.

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace: (l. to r.) King George VI, Princess Margaret Rose, unidentified, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mother Mary after wedding of Elizabeth and Philip.

The marraige of Elizabeth and Philip. Royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace: (l. to r.) King George VI, Princess Margaret Rose, unidentified, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mother Mary after the wedding of Elizabeth and Philip, Nov. 20, 1947.

William Sumits / LIFE Picture Collection

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