A good sense of humour features high on dating websites as a desirable quality (“GSOH”), but with the 70-year marriage of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, it is more a case of SSOH – a shared sense of humour. Those who know the couple best say it has been their enduring ability to laugh at the same things that has sustained their partnership over decades of intense scrutiny in the public spotlight.
“You have to list companionship, friendship and shared experience as having seen them through to this remarkable anniversary,” says Jennie Bond, former BBC royal correspondent, “as well as a very deep love between them. But a big part of what has kept them going over so many years is the fact they can share a joke together.”
From her 14 years of covering royal tours around the globe, Bond recalls one episode in particular to illustrate her point. In October 2002, the royal couple were in Winnipeg in Canada.
“It was absolutely freezing and they had just sat outdoors through what was officially labeled a ‘cultural display’ of song and dance that went on and on and on. Then they were deposited onto a barge, which promptly broke down in the middle of the Red River and had to be rescued. When the Queen and the Duke finally got back to land, everyone was expecting them to look traumatised or frostbitten, but instead you couldn’t mistake the amusement on their faces at the whole episode.”
Because they spend some much of their time going from one stage-managed event to another, planned down to the nth degree, Bond suggests it “tickles” them both when things go wrong. “It is how they have survived being on show for so long.”