They’ve enjoyed one of the most successful marriages in the world. But The Crown seems to think maybe Prince Philip is a royal dog.
Whispers of affairs have hounded the couple since early in their marriage, and Prince Philip doesn’t always come off looking so great — an issue that Season 2 of The Crown was rumored to be taking on. So did he actually cheat on the queen? Let’s take a look at some of these alleged flings.
The first time Philip was thought to have stepped out on Elizabeth was when she was pregnant with Charles in 1948, and a friend brought him backstage to meet British actress Pat Kirkwood. They went out to eat, then dancing, while an eight-months-pregnant Elizabeth waited at home. Prudent or kind? Not particularly. But an affair? Kirkwood steadfastly denied it until her death in 2007.
But Kirkwood wasn’t the only one. In 1957, the Baltimore Sun printed a story alleging Philip was carrying on a long-term sexual relationship with an unnamed woman whom he supposedly liased with in the London apartment of a society photographer. The scandalous headline read, “Report Queen, Duke in Rift Over Party Girl” — and it did not go over well with the royals. In fact, the queen was so dismayed she broke her own cardinal rule of never responding to rumors in the press and issued a denial: “It is quite untrue that there is any rift between the Queen and the Duke.”
There have been many other rumors throughout the years. Australian Women’s Day alone attached him to his cousin, Princess Alexandra, the movie star Merle Oberon, and Sarah Ferguson’s mother Susan Barrantes. Others, society women such as 1950s beauty Katie Boyle, Helene Cordet, Sacha Abercorn and Penny Romsey, have had their names bandied about in many a cocktail party as possible mistresses.
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But little proof has ever arisen, just conjecture based around the fact that Philip enjoys the company of lively young women.
So did he or didn’t he? Perhaps the best defense comes from Philip’s own mouth. “How could I? I’ve had a detective in my company, night and day, since 1947,” he has reportedly said.
Should The Crown sensationalize something that probably didn’t even happen? In our opinion, no, not in a show like this. What we’d like to see is the rumors themselves popping up around the couple and how that dynamic affected their relationship. Did it make them stronger? Did it shake them? Did Elizabeth ever doubt Philip’s faithfulness because of what she was hearing? Did the rumors cause enough marital discord to cause the long period between the births of Anne and Andrew?
There’s another reason why turning Season 2 into an examination of Philip’s supposed infidelities would be a huge mistake. The Crown is one of very few shows on television today that centers around a strong female character and the narrative of her life. Do we really need to turn that into a show centered around her husband’s feelings? Do we really need to turn this into a show about the emotional life of a wealthy white man? Elizabeth’s life is fascinating enough without moving the spotlight to Philip’s loins. Let’s keep the focus on her.
We may actually get that wish. Although show writer Peter Morgan heavily hinted at an industry event that Season 2’s plotline would heavily revolve around this issue, a show insider refuted the claim. “Anyone who’s planning on tuning in to see Philip rolling out of bed with someone else or having any sort of romp, is going to be sorely disappointed,” the source told The Mirror. “He was shown to have a bit of a wandering eye at his gentleman’s club in the first series, and that will continue to a degree, but it doesn’t go beyond that.”
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