There have long been rumors that Prince Philip had affairs—and now The Crown is going there, with a report in The Sun suggesting that the new series of the hit Netflix show will depict a romance between Prince Philip and his close friend Penny Knatchbull when it debuts on Nov. 9.
There has never been any doubt that Philip and Penny, also known as Countess Mountbatten of Burma, were close friends, and rumors of an affair long dogged them despite the 30-year age gap between them. While the Palace never dignified the speculation with official comment, insiders always denied the couple were more than just good friends.
However in the new series, The Sun says, the two will be seen “pursuing an affair” and “touching hands” as Philip discusses his marital difficulties.
Dickie Arbiter, the late Queen Elizabeth’s former press secretary, told the paper the portrayal of the couple as romantically linked was “cruel rubbish.”
Penny, played by British actress Natasha McElhone, came into the royal orbit in 1979 after she married the grandson of Louis Mountbatten, Philip’s maternal uncle who had been killed by an IRA bomb two months earlier. They became friends in the 1990s after he taught her carriage driving and motorcycle riding.
Palace wags nicknamed Penny “And Also,” because when Philip would list guests for a royal event he would often end with, “and also Penny.”
Penny, who is now 69, was reportedly asked by the queen to visit Philip and persuade him to surrender his driving license after his 2019 car crash at Sandringham, a mission she accomplished successfully. She is said to have regularly visited Philip at his Wood Farm retirement cottage on the Sandringham estate before his death last year at the age of 99.
Dickie Arbiter, who was the queen’s spokesman from 1988 to 2000, told The Sun: “The truth is that Penny was a long-time friend of the whole family. Netflix are not interested in people’s feelings.”