Prince Philip had a number of ‘very close female friends’ throughout his life


Prince Philip had an intimate relationship with Penny Brabourne, aka Penelope Knatchbull, aka Countess Mountbatten, for many years. They really began spending a lot of time together in the 1990s, and their relationship will perhaps even be explored in The Crown’s Season 5. We also know that Philip and Penny’s relationship was common knowledge among the royals, the royal press and the aristocracy. We know that because the British press often reported on their relationship with typical euphemisms for love affairs. This is how we know that Penny practically lived with Philip once he retired to Wood Farm, that Philip was not happy to be separated from Penny in the final year of his life, and that Penny “mourned privately” for Philip. The Queen even invited Penny to Philip’s funeral, which I’m sure French people loved. Even though Philip is gone, apparently we still need to talk around his serial infidelity though? I guess.

Prince Philip had a number of ‘very close female friends’, according to leading royal expert Robert Jobson, author of upcoming book Prince Philip’s Century: The Extraordinary Life of the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip, who died on April 9 this year aged 99, had various close friendships with women throughout his life, according to Jobson.

One woman – who Jobson declined to name – told him her relationship with the late Duke of Edinburgh was so close that ‘people will think we went to bed together’ – though she clarified that they never did. He added that of his female friendships, the ‘longest and most meaningful’ Prince Philip had was with Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

Jobson made the comments while speaking on a recent episode of The Royal Beat on True Royalty TV. Discussing some of the conversations he’d had with the women associated with the late Duke of Edinburgh while writing the book, Jobson said: ‘Some of the quotes [are] from very close female friends that he had. One of them said, “People will think we went to bed together. But you know, we never did, but I had a real close physical chemical connection with him.” It was a very bizarre quote, you know.’

According to the author, the Duke of Edinburgh’s most enduring female friendship was likely with Countess Mountbatten of Burma. Jobson said: ‘He had several lady friends. But probably the longest and most meaningful was with Countess Mountbatten. The Queen accepted the friendship between the Duke and Penny, and…it just shows you how mature the Queen was that she invited her to the funeral. There were very small numbers and there she was. I think that shows a degree of respect.’

[From The Daily Mail]

I mean… Philip enjoyed the company of women. He always enjoyed the company of women. I’m sure some women truly were “just friends” but many of them were mistresses. And I think Penny Knatchbull was probably his favorite and his longest relationship with a woman other than his wife. What I do find remarkable is just how close Penny was and still seems to be with the Queen. Anyway… yeah. I’m not sure why people are still talking around this. Is it out of respect for the Queen? Because I’m not sure she ever cared.

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101 Responses to “Prince Philip had a number of ‘very close female friends’ throughout his life”

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  1. Seraphina says:

    I am sure PP was an avid gardener – a trait passed down to his grandson as well.

    • lanne says:

      I think they are setting up a narrative to describe William’s “friends” in due time. Kate will be “approved of” for accepting his wandering in a way that Diana couldn’t.

    • terra says:

      Ah, yes, but in Phillip’s case we call it “carriage racing.”

      He drove quite a few trolleys in his day.

      • DuchessL says:

        Yes whatever it is, it is always carriage racing lol. It is such a weird quote about Philip sleeping with Penny. They needed to address that before the next Crown series lol. What id like to know is: where does penny live now and what did she inherit from philip?

      • SnoodleDumpling says:

        That…is DEEPLY unfortunate wording, considering just how much the tabloids have been talking about Phil sharing his love of carriage racing with his granddaughter Louise.

    • Lady Esther says:

      And to his son, of course – apparently also an avid “gardener” with none other than Dominic West’s wife, the Irish aristocrat. Apparently Prince Charles has a “blooming friendship” with her, LOL!

      • Chaine says:

        Omg, read the linked article and then saw next to it a link for another one showing Camilla visiting Scotland while wearing an absolutely immense amount of tartan. Not trying to thread Jack but wow, she is taking fashion tips from Kate.

      • Basi says:

        Lady Esther—can we take that as such? This is a “read between the lines” friendship?
        Like father like son like grandson.

    • Lauren says:

      Add his son as well. Chuck had many “close female friends.” Camilla happened to just be the most well-known.

    • Seraphina says:

      I wasn’t sure about Chucky, but thank you all for the interesting reads today.

  2. SarahLee says:

    The creepiest thing about this relationship is that she is the wife if his godson. Ick!

    • LillyfromLillooet says:

      Yeah, signing off on this–she’s Charles’ contemporary and was part of the royal circle when a liaison would have been minor cradle robbing. No one is really mentioning this.

      As I stated before, the unstinting and unresolved meanness of this family IRL is why I had to stop watching The Crown. No hugs, no learning.

    • Over it says:

      And he was so so old. Barf.

  3. BayTampaBay says:

    Before Penny Knatchbull Brabourne Mountbatten, Phillips main squeeze seemed to be Scaha Phillips, aka Alexandra Anastasia Hamilton, aka Duchess of Abercorn, (27 February 1946 – 10 December 2018), who was a philanthropist, an aristocrat of Russian descent, the sister of the current Duchess of Westminster and the wife of The 5th Duke of Abercorn.

    • Harper says:

      Does this aristocrat of Russian descent have a niece or granddaughter who is also a lawyer in London in an age range that would be attractive to Prince Incandescent?

      • Couch potato says:

        They have one daughter Lady Sophia Alexandra Hamilton, born in 1973 and second cousin of Diana. She’s not a solicitor, she’s working in fashion (former model).

        As for nieces through her sister Nathalia (married to the late duke of Westminster)
        – Lady Tamara Cathrine Grosvenor, born 1979 and married to Edward van Cutsem.
        – Lady Edwina Louisa Grosvenor, born 1981 and married to Dan Snow. Goddaughter of Diana. Studied criminology and sosiology.
        – Lady Viola Georgina Grosveno, born 1992

        If it’s any of them, Lady Edwina would be the best guess because of her criminology studies.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      Sacha Hamilton is the one that quote came from. That came out in Gyles Brandbeth’s 2004 book. Side eye to Philip being faithful in the article.

      I don’t know why, but I find it interesting she was born in Tucson, AZ. (not in the link-elsewhere)

  4. Noki says:

    Countess Mountbatten of Burma…I have so much to say about these colonist titles. Smh

    • Steph says:

      I’ve was going to ask if there is a place called Burma in the UK. Nope, this is Myanmar. Why does the title still exist?

      • Chaine says:

        I have the same question. It’s like if queen gave someone the title Earl of Massachusetts.

      • Erica says:

        At least Massachusetts exists.

      • Kalana says:

        Earl of New Amsterdam

      • SnoodleDumpling says:

        The title still exists because the family still exists, with a legitimate male heir to the title and everything. The legal status of the land the title refers to has no legal bearing on the title.

        While at the beginning of England as a (relatively) unified Kingdom those Kings did generally create peerages by picking a county or larger region that did not already have a title associated with it, after a while they started running out of counties, naming an Earl after a city made them seem like ‘lesser’ Earls, and eventually they just gave up completely and started using mostly family surnames and occasionally the names of ancient Kingdoms of the British Isles (see: Wessex, Earl of).

        Barons are always surnames, and Vicounts, Marquesses, and Dukes are pretty rare and almost always an elevation of a previously existing title so they just use that, aside from Royal Dukes which are their own bizarre labyrinth of tradition, precedent, ‘But Mummy/Daddy pleeeeeaaase’, and stiff-necked men in medium grey suits saying ‘You can’t!’.

        There is also one title in the peerage of England that refers to a certain portion of France that the Kingdom of England hasn’t actually possessed for at LEAST 300 years, the Dukedom of Beaufort (referring to the Castle Beaufort in Champagne). The first Duke Beaufort didn’t even own Beaufort when Charles II created him a Duke! It was to honor his ancestor from 300 years previous, John Beaufort, the legitimated heir of John of Gaunt, apparently both major figures in that roses war thingy that tweedy English historians with dusty voices get all hot and sweaty over.

    • Talia says:

      While I agree the RF is shockingly colonialist, the title actually relates to the first Earl being in charge of the military forces in the Second World War that re-took Burma and Singapore from the Japanese. No one thinks the U.K. or US are claiming ownership of Afghanistan or Iraq when they issue campaign medals and the idea is the same. It’s not uncommon for British titles awarded for military victories to include the site of the victory.

      • Erica says:

        This makes sense. It does remind me how dumb the monarchy is though. Imagine getting a medal in military service and then making everyone call you count or Earl.

  5. ABritGuest says:

    Wink wink nudge nudge eh Jobson.

  6. Amy Bee says:

    You understand why the Royal rota is really angry about Harry writing a book. It’s nothing to do with protecting the Royal Family’s privacy but that Harry is taking control of his own narrative and he’s taking money away from those who would profit from writing about him.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      Noe Schitt Sherlock. Harry writing his own book is the last thing the editors of The Daily Fail want.

      • Lady D says:

        The DM is going to publish and discuss that book page by page, for the next 18 months, and will once again make a buttload of money off them.

      • BayTampaBay says:

        Well the DM needs to be careful because if they call out anything in Harry’s book as lies or falsehoods, they could be sued and end up in court again.

  7. Sofia says:

    The wife accepting the friendship/mistresses is completely normal amongst the aristo circles. Even if you’re the literal monarch. IMO, it’s why the aristos hit back at Kate with the Tatler cover (although I’m sure 20 years of general grievances towards her and her family played a part) because freezing out the mistress just isn’t done in those circles. You put on a smile in public and accept it.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      Some Brit person once said, “We do not throw in the towel. We bite the bullet and fold the towel neatly then serve tea.”

    • molly says:

      Phillip was a 100 year old man in family that’s about 100 years behind the times. OF COURSE he had mistresses and OF COURSE the queen turned a blind eye. That’s how it all works in those circles.


    “But you know, we never did, but I had a real close physical chemical connection with him.”

    What exactly is a physical chemical connection? Everytime they were close, they would self combust?

    • MangoAngelesque says:

      @moderatelywealthy— It means they did it standing up in the stables or on boats, but never “went to bed together,” you see.

    • Sof says:

      I’m dying.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      @MODERATELYWEALTHY—I’m still laughing..

      “But you know, we never did, but I had a real close physical chemical connection with him.”

      What exactly is a physical chemical connection? Everytime they were close, they would self combust?
      Beer & Baked Beans on Toast together too often? On toast though-not the innocent bed!

  9. Julia K says:

    This is how you know a relationship has evolved; not anger or hate, but indifference.

    • nina says:

      Yep, the other side of love is not hate, its indifference.

    • Lady Esther says:

      I believe the Queen minded quite a bit; all evidence says the sun rose and set for her on Philip, even if she fancied Porchie for a while. But what could she do? She couldn’t divorce him. And he was willing to play the game in public (unlike Diana) and she was willing to live by Aristo World rules…so, despite any icky feelings, she put them aside. I doubt she has been indifferent to Philip one day of her life.

      • Julia K says:

        I am sure she always cared about Philip the husband and Philip the father of her children, but was indifferent to his friendships and private relationships. Compartmentalizing perhaps her way of keeping the marriage intact, both privately and publicly.

  10. Esmerelda says:

    The watered down version being reported is just catering to their lower middle class readership, who cannot conceive of marriages where infidelity is not an issue or a deal breaker.
    It’s the same readership who believes Charles affairs only started up towards the end of his first marriage, who believes the “star crossed lovers” spin for C&C, who thinks W&K are totally in love still, no Roses or other distractions ever.

    • Mustang Sally says:

      If memory serves, didn’t Diana find cufflinks (or a watch) from Camilla to Charles during the Royal Couple’s honeymoon? My understanding was the Charles was cheating with Camilla at the very beginning of their marriage, so the “affairs starting up at the end” of his first marriage is delusional.

  11. MangoAngelesque says:

    They’re talking about it to let Kate know that she needs to get over it, stop not eating in protest of her husband’s wandering sceptre, stop going to therapy “to support her brother,” and accept that lifelong mistresses are part of her life. And that it is her QueenConsort-to- Be Duty to be Mature about it and Show Respect to these women, because they are who her husband chooses.

    Especially since her husband will be the actual King. And if the gosh darn true-blood QUEEN understands the proper behaviour of an aristocratic wife, then middle-class Middleton needs to understand she has no leg to stand on, quick fast and in a hurry.

    • nina says:

      Yeah. Fidelity in your marriage is so middle class.

    • Lady Esther says:

      Interesting theory. I thought it was just that some months have passed since Philip’s death, so the knives will begin to come out. I bet you’re right though that it does double duty in sending a message to Kate, who has been MIA in the press for some time now….and still doesn’t seem to understand (or want to play by) the rules of Aristo World.

      • Chrissy (The Original) says:

        It sounds like Pimp Carole forgot to share with Kate, the likelihood of this happening to Kate and Wandering Willie. Hmm.

    • Esmerelda says:

      So Will is definitely over his “Normal Bill Middleton”, middle-class cosplay phase, right? He’s also not going to be “the only PoW without a mistress”, he wants to move to a proper castle, and send off the children to boarding school sharpish!

      And I think entering a marriage knowing not to expect fidelity is quite different from dealing with infidelity when it was not agreed with.

    • equality says:

      Kate will be the female equivalent of Phil but, I bet, if she got caught in “friendships” with other men the BM wouldn’t hold back on disparaging her. And, I know, if it were Meghan it would be something not “aristocratic”.

      • Nic919 says:

        Oh yeah the UK tabloids would not hold back. They didn’t for Diana and Charles had been cheating on her for years.

    • Nic919 says:

      William cheated on her while they were dating on and off for almost a decade so she can’t pretend that cheating after marriage would be a surprise. She went into this marriage with open eyes and far more aware of what was expected of her than Diana ever did.

      And if the cheating bothers her so much now she can always get a divorce. She doesn’t have to stay married to a cheater because there is precedent. The only thing she would lose is the HRH and the title of future Queen consort. She would get a settlement and access to the kids.

      • Kalana says:

        If Kate was told that Charles will be the last King and the monarchy will end with him, she would be out of there so fast. She’s hanging in there for the titles, not even for the wealth because she could follow Pippa’s example. Even without Kate’s enthusiastic participation in harassing Meghan, I just can’t feel sorry for her. All her problems stem from her ego.

      • Muisje says:

        @Kalana It’s funny because Penny said something similar over Diana, that she seems to be more in love with the titles (she used another word, but with the same meaning, I just cant remember) than the man. It’s exactly what comes to my mind when I think of Kate and her marriage to Wills. She always seems overengaged to make everyone believe she is perfect for him and this role.

    • MsIam says:

      Sorry @Mango but that sounds like some really weird cultish sh!t. My peasant brain cannot wrap my mind around this “civilized” behavior. Also, it seems men are the ones who get to indulge in this behavior, wasn’t Diana’s parents divorce a big scandal because her mother was the one cheating?

      • Talia says:

        The big scandal with Diana’s mother was that she ‘bolted’ (i.e. ran off with her lover). She would have been quite welcome to discreetly see him on the side and it would have been seen as fine for her lover (and his wife if he had one) to be hosted by the Earl and Countess (although, of course Diana’s father’s latest side piece and *her* husband would also need to be invited).

        While aristocrats don’t require fidelity, there are strict rules. Kate (by trying to ice out Rose) and Diana’s mother (by leaving her husband) broke the rules. Penny did not.

  12. Lizzie says:

    And they accuse Harry of throwing bombshells. I don’t believe he has disclosed anyone’s extramarital affairs. I’ve always read that he loved women and any room he walked into he would head straight for the most beautiful woman.
    On one hand if you cannot divorce your wife, the queen, then I cannot say I disapprove. On the other hand he like to lecture everyone else so he was quite the hypocrite.

  13. Eenie Googles says:

    It’s messed up that the title (“of Burma”) still exists when the colony doesn’t.

    Oh did I say “messed up?” I meant “the peak of White Entitlement”

    • Talia says:

      It’s a military campaign based title – the first Earl ran the Burma campaign in WW 2. I’m not saying the RF aren’t ragingly colonialist but awarding titles named after the site of a military victory goes back hundreds of years – there is no implication of ownership of the location. If you google Wikipedia and victory title, there is a long list of similar titles of which the first Earl Mountbatten was one of the most recent.

      • Emma says:

        I find it kinda tough to disentangle their ongoing colonialism and white supremacy from a “military title” and I’m actually not aware of a lot of other such titles?

      • Talia says:

        I’m on a phone and can’t do links but, as I said, Wikipedia lists a large number (I’ve just counted and there are 42 specifically given which are said to be examples not the total list) if you search for ‘victory titles’ and then look at the British section.

      • BayTampaBay says:

        Earl Kitchener of Khartoum is another of these types of titles and Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein is another.

  14. Talie says:

    You all really think they were physical over these decades – like from his ages of 70 up into his 90s?!! I always thought this was more of an emotional affair. I guess it’s a possibility, but wow if so.

    On another note, I swear, the royal rota’s value system is so screwed up and old world. Only they would forgive adultery and put it on the person being cheated on to suck it up.

    • equality says:

      But which is more painful to the one cheated on? To me an emotional affair would be more hurtful than a physical one where there wasn’t attachment.

    • Nic919 says:

      They were together in the 1990s and so he would have been in his 60s. Also there is viagra. There is a reason why it’s covered in health plans more often than birth control.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      “the royal rota’s value system is so screwed up”

      The only value system held by the Royal Rota is the one that sells newspapers, books and generates click$ for revenue$.

    • Kkat says:

      Spoiler: older people have sex all the time

    • Jaded says:

      @Talie…I’m 69, Mr. Jaded just turned 72. We have sex.

    • Talie says:

      I get that he was still viable, but what’s in it for her? Usually that big of an age gap is about money. Which is not a factor here. Was it just about power – getting the queen’s husband under her nose? The motivation is not totally clear.

      • Sofia says:

        Some people genuinely like older men and money/power have nothing to do with it. Although I’m sure that being the consort’s/monarch’s/heir’s mistress is an “honour” in their circles and a bragging right.

      • Talia says:

        Her husband was never faithful and she was looking for someone as committed to *not* getting divorced as she was. Her career was and is managing her husband’s estate (he never made a secret of the fact he couldn’t be bothered), plus she visits the grave of her 5 year old daughter who died of cancer in the grounds every day. If she got divorced, she would lose her job and have to move away.

        Also, among aristocrats, being the long term mistress of a member of the RF provides an acknowledged social position, particularly in this case as the Queen made it clear that she had no objection to the Countess being invited to the same social events as her (and in fact made sure Penny was on the Royal invitation list).

      • MJM says:

        Judging from pics of them together they look really into each other.

  15. Over it says:

    I am not nor will I ever be an aristocrat. Clearly I am also not mature and evolved, because if my husband cheated or had a mistress, I am out and no, me and his side pieces will never ever be friends and I will never ever be good with it

    • Chrissy (The Original) says:

      This. You’d think that HM, the head of the Church of England, would expect her husband to live up his marriage vows to the tee. She should be livid that this is coming out. These people are such hypocrites!

    • BayTampaBay says:

      @Over it – What seems to get lost in this story is that years ago (pre-WWII) many aristocratic marriages were arranged to keep property, funds and chattels in certain family lines. You married aristo X or aristo Y, had the heir & spare and were then free to pursue any interest you wanted as long as there was no divorce or public scandal.

      Cora & Robert Crawley’s marriage in Downton Abbey was the aristocratic exception rather than the aristocratic rule. In modern aristocrat marriages between two true aristocrats, Rose Hanbury and David Rocksavage’s marriage is the rule.

      Funnily enough, from my research, the aristo marriages made for money seem to be more of love matches.

  16. LovesitinNM says:

    It’s a strange thing but when you know someone very well and someone else does too, in the absence of jealousy or disagreement, there can actually be a level of intimacy in the shared familiarity. I’m close friends with my ex-husband’s wife. We both know and have loved the same man. We’ve both had children with him. It’s more than any of her friends or family could have known him as we were together 7 years. Her and I both know his whole family, even the house they live in is my design…
    I can see how the Queen as she ages and more and more of her life’s familiarities disappear that she could feel close to Penny since they both knew Philip a very long time.

    • Chrissy (The Original) says:

      Or maybe she just couldn’t care less at this point. Wouldn’t this coming out now put a stain on Philip’s legacy? Does it make the Queen look like a saint and Phil the sinner?

      • Couch potato says:


        What? No? Oh, that’s true, it’s only when H&M do something

  17. Jack says:

    Philip’s longest running affair was with the Queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      Princess Alexandra of Kent was also Philip’s first once-removed cousin.

      Philip’s father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and Alexandra’s grandfather, Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, were brothers.

      • Lady D says:

        ‘first once-removed cousin’ What does this mean, Bay?

      • BayTampaBay says:

        They are cousins but a generation removed.

        Philip and Marina, mother of Princess Alexandra of Kent, were first cousins. Philip and Alexandra were/are first cousins once-removed.

      • Muisje says:

        There was one article which quoted Dickie Mountbatten who told them to stop let me name it sleeping with each other or they risk getting a child which is the new elephant man.

  18. Laura says:

    Is this the same Penny Romsey that Charles dated at one point?. If so, another ick factor.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      Charles dated Amanda Knatchbull who is Penny Romsey’s sister-in-law if I remember correctly.

  19. J ferber says:

    Then I say bullshit to the old, “aristocratic” way. It’s sexism, pure and simple. Male infidelity AND wife-beating are always implicitly accepted by society AND the law. Not saying any of the royal males are wife beaters, but they COULD be and get away with that, too. Jackie Kennedy was shocked by Jack’s cheating and went to her sisters-in-law for advice. They both said all the Kennedy men did it (including Joe Kennedy who had an illegitimate son with Gloria Swanson AND cheated her out of money).

  20. Over it says:

    That top picture with the three of the, says a lot

  21. Exg729 says:

    I think this is prt of their problem with Harry also. He saw how his mother was devastated by affairs, and he has no desire to continue the “tradition.” That just spotlights the ones who do have their special friends.

    • SMS says:

      In fairness Diana also had a lot of affairs and many were with married men. She wasn’t just a innocent victim.

      • goofpuff says:

        Yes but that happened afterwards – after Charles had been cheating and gaslighting her for years and mentally wrecking her since she was 19 years old.

  22. Over it says:

    So that big B Robert J is allowed to write books and make money off prince Philip but Harry isn’t allowed to make money off himself? Can these people even smell their own shit?

  23. Normades says:

    I see nothing wrong with this. They couldn’t get a divorce and accepted their separate lives. Whatevs….