Did Prince Philip Cheat On Queen Elizabeth? 5 Facts & Rumors Surfaced By Netflix Series 'The Crown'

Photo: Vanity Fair/The Telegraph
Did Prince Philip Cheat On Queen Elizabeth? 5 Rumors & Facts Surfaced By Netflix Series 'The Crown'
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They've been married for 70 years!

The second season of the Netflix original series The Crown drops on Friday, December 8, and if you thought the first season was compelling, just wait until you see what season 2 has in store.

If you literally have no idea what I'm talking about, The Crown is an amazing drama based on Queen Elizabeth II's younger years.

The show, based on Peter Morgan's 2006 film The Queen and award winning 2013 play The Audience, focuses on Elizabeth (currently played by Claire Foy), who last season we begin her marriage to Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh (currently played by Matt Smith), and transitioning into her role as the Queen of England. Neither process is easy for Elizabeth, which is a large part of what makes this show so darn compelling.

 

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Notably, this season will tackle rumors of infidelity, as we all watch and wonder together, did Prince Philip cheat on Queen Elizabeth?

 

 

While many still believe the now 70-year marriage of Queen Elizabeth, 91, and Prince Philip, 96,  to be one of the strongest in history, gossip about the Prince's allegedly wandering eye has existed for nearly as long as the couple has been wed. 

So before (or after) you dive in for your binge-watching session of The Crown, here are 5 key facts and rumors to know about Prince Philip's alleged affair(s). 

1. If solid evidence of an affair exists, no one seems to know of it.

Take a minute about this. On November 20, 2017, the Queen and her consort celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. That means their marriage has survived nearly as long as the current worldwide average life expectancy

Largely because the Internet didn't exist for the first half of those years and the media was nowhere near as pervasive then as it is now, there appears to be no concrete evidence that Prince Philip ever cheated on Queen Elizabeth. That said, this certainly hasn't stopped rumors or gossip from circulating. 

The man born as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was quite the handsome, well-styled and graceful young man, and he has long been labeled a ladies man with an eye for attractive women.

Princess Diana, in particular, is believed to have spent a great deal of energy trying to prove the truth about her father-in-law's dalliances.

 

 

Prince Philip at one point had tried valiantly to comfort Diana in regard to her own marriage. In one letter he wrote to her:

"We do not approve of either of you having lovers... Charles was silly to risk everything with Camilla for a man in his position. We never dreamed he might feel like leaving you for her. I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind leaving you for Camilla. Such a prospect never even entered our heads."

But his patience for Diana ended after she shared family secrets with biographer Andrew Morton. Their relationship declined terribly over the course of the next several years, and it has been reported that in anger, Diana decided to make it her mission to prove that Philip had been unfaithful, just as his son, Prince Charles, had been to her. She claimed to have found reason to believe that Philip had father several illegitimate children over the course of his marriage and that he was still supporting them financially, although she was never able to present anyone with proof, and none has been uncovered to this day.

This doesn't stop most Brits from assuming their Prince is a philanderer. When asked what he believes at a press event this year, Peter Morgan responded plainly"Doesn't everyone in Britain know he had an affair?"

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2. Philip's first rumored lover was an actress, not a ballerina.

This season on The Crown, Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova becomes the object of Philip's ardent devotion.

 

 

While there is no proof of any tie between Prince Philip and Ulanova, members of the Royal Family did attend a performance she gave with the Bolshoi Ballet at London's Royal Opera House in 1956. It is considered unlikely that the two would have had time to carry on an affair however. An article written following her death in 1998 noted that "she was rumored to have had several husbands before 'ending up with a female companion who guarded her and served her needs,'” so, again, an actual relationship between the two is considered to be unlikely.  

 

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That said, rumors first began circulating of a love affair between the newly married consort and dancer/actress Pat Kirkwood in 1948.

Kirkwood, who was primarily a stage actress, had quite the following in the 1930's and 1940's.

 

 

In addition to being considered a great talent, the beautiful woman's legs were once dubbed "the eighth wonder of the world" by critic Kenneth Tynan.

As told in Vanity Fair, the two were introduced "in her dressing room at the Hippodrome Theatre, where she was headlining the revue Starlight Roof. The two were said to have dined alone in public later that evening before dancing until dawn at a London nightclub, while the then-Princess Elizabeth was eight months pregnant with Prince Charles. Kirkwood is said to have met up with Philip six other times, and exchanged letters with the royal that have since reportedly been given to a writer with the instruction 'to show them to no one except the Duke’s official biographer, when one is appointed after his death.”' 

It seems far-fetched to think that Prince Philip would risk the Royal Family by pursuing an affair with a woman in such a prominent position.

The storyline of The Crown seems to suggest that Prince Philip was threatened by his wife's position — he once exclaimed his frustration over being the only man in the country not allowed to give his children his name — and jealous of the time she spent governing the nation instead of tending to him and their children as women were expected to do, and so perhaps, may have found a degree of comfort in tacitly rubbing her nose in his desirability to other women.

 

3. He has refused to make any public statements denying rumored affairs. 

Throughout the duration of their "friendship" and for the rest of her days, Kirkwood, who died in 2007, remained adamant that she and the Prince were never anything other than dear friends. In fact, she is reported to have been mortified to see her named included in such a scandal and gave a statement to the press denying their involvement.

 

 

Though her friends say she begged Philip to do the same, he refused. The one blanket denial he is known to have given was simply, “How could I? I’ve had a detective in my company, night and day, since 1947.”

Michael Thornton, a friend of Kirkwood's who claims to now be in possession of the secret letters she and Philip exchanged, claims the Prince once wrote to Kirkwood, "Short of starting libel proceedings, there is absolutely nothing to be done... Invasion of privacy, invention and false quotations are the bane of our existence.” 

Understandably, Kirkwood didn't at all appreciate having to defend her own honor.  

"A lady is not normally expected to defend her honor," she once said. "It is the gentleman who should do that. I would have had a happier and easier life if Prince Philip, instead of coming uninvited to my dressing room, had gone home to his pregnant wife on the night in question."

 

4. Prince Philip has been linked to several other women... and one man. 

Over the years, Philip's name has continued to be connected to a collection of different women, including actresses Katie Boyle and Merle Oberon, singer Hélène Cordet, novelist Daphne du Maurier, and Princess Alexandra, cousin of both Philip AND Elizabeth.

 

Katie Boyle

 

Daphne du Maurier

 

However, in her book Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life In Our Times, biographer Sarah Bradford claimed that while Philip did have affairs, he "preferred women who were not public figures, writing, 'He’s never been one for chasing actresses. His interest is quite different. The women he goes for are always younger than him, usually beautiful, and highly aristocratic.'” 

In addition to those women mentioned above, Philip has been connected to Jane, Countess of Westmorland, Sacha Abercorn, wife of the fifth Duke of Abercorn, and his most recent long-time carriage driving companion Lady Brabourne, formerly Penny Romsey.

 

Sacha Abercorn

 

Lady Brabourne

 

According to those in the know, every last one of the women in question have spoken of a special friendship with the Duke, while denying ever engaging in a sexual encounter.

"As the Duchess of Abercorn told Giles Brandreth, the former Tory MP and Philip’s biographer: ‘It was a passionate friendship, but the passion was in the ideas. It was certainly not a full relationship. I did not go to bed with him.’"

When asked once during an interview if the rumors that he had enjoyed an affair with former President of France, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, were true, Philip didn't answer, presumably because he thought the question was silly. Sometimes, of course, not saying anything at all can appear to say more than you ever intended. 

 

5. The Queen appears to have made her peace with it, whatever "it" means.

When you live your life in the public eye, there are bound to be rumors about your relationship. That has definitely been the case for the Royal Family as well. For her part, the Queen, whom Philip refers to endearingly as his "Lilibet," seems to be at peace with whatever the reality of her 7-decades long marriage is.

 

 

Former Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter was once quoted as saying, "Prince Philip has always liked window shopping, but he doesn’t buy."

Friends of the Queen believe she holds a "patient, wifely view that: ‘Philip needs a lot of amusing.’ She has always accepted that her handsome husband not only attracted pretty women but enjoyed their company."

Time to grab some popcorn and the remote and flip on Netflix to see what you think for yourself!

 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr

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