When Elvis Presley married Priscilla, they immediately became an iconic item, one that would define their era of celebrity and glamour.
On one hand, you had the King Of Rock and Roll, the biggest star in America whose jet-black hair and ground-breaking performances made him a true legend.
On the other, you had his fledging wife who was new to the world of showbiz, but had the looks and style to make herself an icon almost immediately.
But their life in public wasn’t exactly what people wanted to know about – it was their relationship behind the scenes.
Even now, with the upcoming release of Sofia Coppola’s biopic Priscilla, we’re still intrigued by the love of two of the world’s most famous people at the time.
So let’s look back at Elvis Presley and Priscilla’s relationship, their ill-fated marriage, and their endless love for one another:
When did Elvis Presley and Priscilla first meet?
Elvis Presley in fact first met Priscilla in 1959 when she was just 14 years old – he was 10 years older than her at the time.
He was serving his term for the US military in Bad Nauheim, Germany where Priscilla’s family lived as her father was a US Air Force officer.
Priscilla knew Elvis was famous at that time, joking that: “He wasn’t bad to look at. Everyone had a crush on him”.
But it was the 24-year-old musician that made the moves on a young Priscilla, and though her parents were reluctant about his advances, they eventually gave him their blessing to see their daughter.
“Each night that I was with him he entrusted a little more of himself – his doubts, his secrets and his frustrations,” she told People magazine in 1985. “It was a lot to expect someone my age to understand, but I tried.”
Elvis eventually left, but they’d already established a strong bond by that time, so in 1963, Priscilla moved to the US with Elvis to live with him in Graceland after visiting him frequently.
She revealed in 2017 that: “People have said, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe your parents let you go with this stranger’. But it was a very innocent time.”
“I liked him very much. I certainly felt safe… We cannot compare it to today. We still had morals, high standards. There was a lot of care.”
When did Elvis Presley and Priscilla get married?
Elvis Presley and Priscilla tied the knot in 1967, during an intimate celebration in Las Vegas, the photos of which are now iconic.
Their wedding was one of the conditions of Priscilla’s parents agreeing for her to move in and live with Elvis.
Elvis’ manager Colonel Parker also encouraged his decision to marry her, citing RCA’s (his record label) “moral clauses”.
According to her autobiography, Elvis and Me, Priscilla describes Elvis as a passionate and respectful partner who wasn’t sexual towards her before they were married, as she wouldn’t have sex with him until they were married.
Priscilla recounts: “He said, ‘I’m not saying we can’t do other things. It’s just the actual encounter. I want to save it.'”
The account of Graceland cook Alberta is much different however, as she claimed Elvis was so upset about the prospect of having to marry that she caught him crying about it.
She supposedly asked him why he wouldn’t cancel the wedding if he was so distraught and he replied: “I don’t have a choice.”
Elvis Presley and Priscilla had their first and only child, Lisa Marie, shortly after their marriage.
Lisa Marie – Elvis and Priscilla’s first and only child together – was born exactly nine months after their wedding day on 1st February 1968.
The King of Rock and Roll had gained the heir to his throne, and Priscilla would become a mother at the tender age of 19.
She later recalled how seeing Elvis about Lisa Marie for the first time made her see him from a new perspective, as a human, not a superstar.
“Elvis came into the room and kissed me, thrilled that we had a perfectly normal, healthy baby,” Priscilla wrote in Orlando Sentinel in 1985.
“He was already in love with her. He was in awe, saying, ‘I can’t believe that I made part of this beautiful child.'”
“The man in my hospital room that day was the man I loved and will always love,” she said.
“He didn’t have to try to be strong and decisive or sexy; he wasn’t afraid to show his warmth or vulnerability.”
“He didn’t have to act the part of Elvis Presley, superstar. He was just a man, my husband.”
Why did they divorce?
Things started out incredibly happy, as you’d expect with any newlyweds, with Priscilla revealing in 2021 that she took to the role of being a traditional wife naturally and quickly.
“I was always ready to greet him at the door and pamper him,” she said. “I loved taking care of Elvis very much. I loved tending to him. I loved feeding him.”
Despite only being married for several years, however, and being together in total for fourteen, Priscilla and Elvis Presley call it a day in 1972, finally divorcing the following year.
Elvis’ infidelities (alleged or not) were frequent, and Priscilla became tired of it. So tired in fact that she had an affair of her own with karate instructor Mike Stone.
Only seven months into their marriage, Elvis had even requested they separate and spend some time apart, despite being seven months pregnant with Lisa Marie.
In the Orlando Sentinel, Priscilla recalled what Elvis told her writing: “Cilla, I have to have time to think. Things just aren’t going right. It’ll be good for the two of us to take a little time off, like a trial separation. Be apart from one another for a while.”
Ultimately, Priscilla felt like her life was continually overshadowed by Elvis, his needs, his decisions, and his career. So she left him.
In 1978 she said: “My life was his life. He had to be happy. My problems were secondary. I want to grow. I want to do things.
According to Elvis’ close friend Mae Boren Axton: “It killed him. It hurt his ego, and it hurt his heart.”
Did Elvis Presley and Priscilla still love each other even after they split?
Though Elvis and Priscilla were divorced and not technically an item, they still loved each other dearly and remained close to co-parent Lisa Marie.
When Priscilla appeared as a guest on ITV’s Loose Women in 2017, she insisted: “I did not divorce him because I didn’t love him.”
“He was the love of my life, truly. If anything, I left because I needed to find out what the world was like.”
Reportedly after their divorce was finalised, on the steps leaving the court, Elvis sang Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ to Priscilla.
“It was like we were never divorced,” Priscilla revealed in a later interview. “We would say ‘Mommy said this’ and ‘Daddy said that.’ That helped Lisa to feel stable.”
Sadly, Elvis tragically and prematurely died at the age of 42 in 1977 after suffering a heart attack, so he and Priscilla could never rekindle their marriage.
Elvis’ father Vernon named Priscilla as the successor of the estate, and after he died in 1979, Priscilla transformed Elvis’ Graceland home into a tourist attraction and global phenomenon.
She strived to keep the spirit of Elvis alive, and that fascination with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is still today as rampant as it ever was, with the Academy Award-nominated glitzy biopic Elvis released in 2022, and Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla biopic set for release in 2023.