The marriage of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip has lasted for over 70 years — yet it hasn’t escaped rumors of alleged affairs.
British author Ingrid Seward, who is also editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, has been covering the royals since the 1980s and has written over 20 books on the subject. Her latest one, “My Husband and I: The Inside Story of 70 Years of Royal Marriage,” analyzes the lasting union between Elizabeth, 92 and Philip, 97.
In the book, Seward investigates allegations of Philip’s affairs that have lingered for decades. As previously reported by Town & Country, the Duke of Edinburgh has been linked to numerous women, most notably Pat Kirkwood in the ’30s and ‘40s, a stage actress whose legs were coined “the eighth wonder of the world.”
Philip and Kirkwood reportedly met on seven different occasions, the first of which Philip went to her dressing room before a performance in London in 1948. That initial meeting purportedly led to dinner and dancing until dawn. Elizabeth, who was then a princess, was eight months pregnant with Prince Charles at the time.
According to the U.K.’s Mirror, Kirkwood denied claims of any illicit relationship with Prince Phillip until her death in 2007 at age 86.
“In my research, I never got a conclusive answer,” Seward told Fox News about all the rumors. “There’s so much gossip about Philip and his affairs, but all the women that deny it, that have been picked out of possibilities of having affairs — well, most of them are dead now. … And Philip himself obviously denies it.”
In 2012, The Telegraph reported royal biographer and historian Michael Thornton had custody of the letters between Philip and Kirkwood. Thornton claimed he wasn’t allowed, by the terms of Kirkwood’s will, to show the letters to anyone “except the person who will be chosen as Philip’s official biographer after his death.”
However, the publication noted nothing in the letters confirmed anything improper occurred between “the prince and the showgirl.”
The Telegraph added it was photographer Baron Nahum who introduced his pal Philip to Kirkwood at the London Hippodrome, where she was headlining in the revue Starlight Roof. Thornton claimed Kirkwood was reportedly upset that Philip never released an official denial of the affair to protect her reputation.
Kirkwood reportedly wrote to Philip, “… if there had been some support from your direction, the matter could have been squashed years ago, instead of (my) having to battle a sea of sharks single-handed.”
Philip replied, “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.”
Kirkwood reportedly went on to tell one journalist: “A lady is not normally expected to defend her honor. 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.”
In addition to Kirkwood, Philip has also been linked to other actresses, including Helene Cordet, Merle Oberon and Anna Massey. People magazine previously reported rumors persisted that Philip was actually the father — not the godfather — of Cordet’s two children. She called the paternity gossip “ridiculous” and claimed they were fathered by French fighter pilot Marcel Boisot.
“No one is saying anything [about these stories] and probably won’t until after the queen dies,” said Seward. “No one will say anything because anything would be very hurtful to her if indeed they were true. But, there are lots of stories. You can’t ignore it.”
In 2017, Netflix’s “The Crown” implied Philip may have had an affair with Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova in the 1950s. However, People noted there is no evidence that a relationship ever occurred.
“People have often said, ‘He must have been unfaithful,’ but there is no solid evidence for that,” said the show’s historical consultant Robert Lacey to the publication. “When you’ve seen the episodes, you get the feeling why people made that supposition. But there is no evidence for it.”
There was one woman who rocked the royal household — and it wasn’t an alleged mistress.
Seward revealed that despite tabloids claiming Philip never welcomed his former daughter-in-law Princess Diana when she said “I do” to his son Charles in 1981, the pair did connect before her seemingly fairytale marriage fell apart by rumors of his infidelity.
“He did everything he could to help her,” said Seward. “And he wrote these very charming letters saying, ‘I too was an outsider and it’s very difficult to marry into this family.’ … But when the marriage started to fall apart, she became very difficult. And his tone got harsher. And at the end Diana says… that she hated him.
“She absolutely hated him. But to begin with they had a very good relationship. It just deteriorated as Diana’s marriage deteriorated. Philip’s reasoning for this was that her actions were derogatory to the monarchy. … [He felt] if people are reading all these stories, they will lose respect for the royal family and that’s what worried him. And sadly, by the end, she wasn’t on speaking terms with him.”
Diana and Charles officially divorced in 1996. In 1997, Diana passed away at age 36 after suffering from injuries she sustained in a Paris car crash.
Despite all the gossip and scandals Elizabeth and Philip had to face over the years, their bond endured.
“It’s quite extraordinary really,” said Seward. “… In those days, it wasn’t quite so unusual to have a young girl fall in love with someone and stay in love with them. But she never really looked at anyone else once she met him. He was just gorgeous. He was so handsome, tall, blonde and very funny. And you know, women love funny men.
“… I think women just adored him because he was such a handsome specimen. … And he has an amazing charm when he wants to use it, an amazing charm. He’s a very interesting character. … Whatever he may have done in his private life, no one has really put their finger on that. He’s always put his duty to the queen first.”