I’m a royal expert – here’s what The Crown won’t tell you about Prince Philip and Penny Knatchbull's relationship | The Sun

NETFLIX has sparked fury by hinting at an alleged affair between Prince Philip and a close friend in the upcoming series of The Crown.

This week, we revealed how intimate scenes are set to depict the late Duke of Edinburgh pursuing Penny Knatchbull – just weeks after the Queen's death.

Jonathan Pryce, who plays Philip, will be shown teaching carriage driving to the young wife of Norton Knatchbull, who was the royal's godson.

Royal experts have blasted the claims of infidelity as "cruel rubbish" and accused Netflix of insensitivity for airing such scenes so soon after Her Majesty's passing.

But the relationship between Penny and Philip was complex, as Majesty Magazine editor Ingrid Seward here explains.


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LIKE a performance on Strictly Come Dancing, my eyes were transfixed by a thrilling pair glued together who moved in perfect unison. 

It was only when the youthful beauty was being whirled about that I recognised who they were – and my mouth was left ajar.

“Good heavens,  that’s Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband!” I noted. “He’s dancing with a gorgeous girl and he doesn’t give a damn who sees.”

It was an exceptionally warm evening at the Royal Yacht Squadron Ball – a frightfully snooty yet wonderful affair for the elite owners of grand yachts – in Cowes, the Isle of Wight.

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Philip was an excellent dancer and unafraid of the tongue-wagging as he glided around the ballroom. 

He had always enjoyed the company of beautiful women and endured endless accusations of affairs previously, which he would laugh off.

Famously, Philip told the journalist Jeremy Paxman: “Every time I talk to a woman they say I’ve been to bed with her, it’s absolutely cuckoo.”

Now the relationship between him and Penny is being dragged up once more in the upcoming series of The Crown and I’m sure speculation is rife.

She was a beautiful woman, 31 years younger than Philip, someone who shared his interests and was regularly photographed with him.

It’s enough tedious titillation for the storyline in a TV drama – and let me remind you, that’s exactly what The Crown is.

Their relationship was more complex than is likely to appear on our screen and was forged through tragedy.

Friendship forged by tragedy

Penny Eastwood was the daughter of a very rich meat trader, the founder of the Angus Steakhouse chain, and married Norton Knatchbull, a cousin of Prince Charles and godson of Prince Philip – in 1979

She and the late Queen’s husband became particularly close after her five-year-old daughter Leonora died of kidney cancer in 1991 and soon her life descended further into chaos.

During a period when her marriage was at rock bottom, Norton ran off with a bohemian fashion designer to the Bahamas.

Penny was left to maintain her husband’s vast estate and 18th-century Broadlands home, which had 60 rooms and a monument to remember their late daughter on its grounds.

Would Penny have been featured if she was ugly? I highly doubt it

Running royal properties was something Philip knew full well and having bonded with her over horses and carriage driving, their friendship blossomed further.

While driving around sprawling country estates, Philip liked to discuss religion and other deep, worldly matters.

I’m sure Penny, who was educated in Switzerland and the London School of Economics, would have indulged his curious mind. 

Philip would have been her confidante during those dark times but I highly doubt he would ever have discussed his own marriage with her – or anyone. 

But we do know he discussed the then-Prince Charles' crumbling marriage with Princess Diana.

Penny was described as a "plummy voiced woman" in a secret phone recording between her, her husband and Philip in 1996, which fired up the rumour mill and I suspect this is what Netflix will look to portray.

Ultimately, I’m certain the late Queen would have approved of their friendship. She never minded her husband being around pretty women.

I don’t believe she had a jealous bone in her body. She trusted him and wanted him to be entertained while she fulfilled her pledge to devote her life to public service.

Questions may be raised about Philip’s other female ‘friendships’, but I’m certain nothing would have happened with Penny.

She was a regular guest at the Queen’s events and at one point served as a monitor on the world for the Royal Family to understand important issues to the public.

I’m sure this new storyline for The Crown has caused untold stress and heartache for Penny, her children and her wider family.

And in so many ways it seems unjustified – she is the unfortunate victim in their fictional tale because she was young, attractive, and photographed with Philip.

Would Penny have been featured if she was unattractive? I highly doubt it. 

Personally, I believe Philip and Penny had a somewhat symbiotic relationship.

He was almost a grandfather figure, someone able to advise and counsel her during difficult times.

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And Penny gave him company and mentally engaged him during lonely moments that could only be understood when married to the monarch.

There's no doubt in my mind, I’m certain she was never his mistress, yet in a rather macabre way, I imagine Philip would have found talk of such a scandal very flattering.

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