Northern Ireland news

DUP councillor suggests Prince Philip's first meeting with future wife (13) `would be talked about as being grooming' today

File photo dated 17/05/11 of Queen Elizabeth II (second right) with Irish President Mary McAleese (second left) after arriving at Aras an Uachtarain (The Irish President's official residence) in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, as Dr Martin McAleese (far left) and The Duke of Edinburgh (far right) look on. As the Queen reaches 25,000 days on the throne on Saturday, the PA news agency looks at some of the events and milestones of her reign..

A DUP councillor has suggested Prince Philip's first meeting with his future wife, then aged 13, "would be talked about as being grooming" if it happened today.

Alderman Bill Keery made the remark during a fulsome tribute to Queen Elizabeth's late husband at a special meeting Ards and North Down Borough Council called to allow members to pay their respects.

He addressed Thursday's online meeting, recounting his personal memories of the royal and running through key biographical details.

"The Duke of Edinburgh joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman," Mr Keery said.

"He first met her majesty again as a 13-year-old. I don't know how people would view that nowadays - whether that would be talked about as being groomed - but eventually he ended up marrying Princess Elizabeth in 1947.

"Their first child was born in 1948."

According to various biographers, the couple's 1939 meeting at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth was their third, but it was then that the young princess said she fell in love with Philip and they began to exchange letters.

She was five years younger than him and was 21 when their engagement was officially announced on July 9 1947.

They went on to be married for 73 years - the longest of any British sovereign.

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