18 Jun 19
The Scottish Sun
HE’s famous for being brazenly outspoken – and his latest comments on Prince Harry’s marriage have caused outrage.
Prince Philip told his grandson that one should only ‘step out with actresses, not marry them.’ But was he speaking from personal experience?
Prince Philip’s 71-year marriage has been dogged by rumours of affairs with actresses
The Duke of Edinburgh was himself linked to a number of actresses when he was a handsome young man – including a leggy film star and an actress called Queenie.
His comments were said to have been made when the Duke of Sussex’s romance with Suits actress Meghan Markle started getting serious.
The Duke of Edinburgh disapproved of grandson Prince Harry’s wish to marry Suits star Meghan Markle
The actress whose legs were known as the 8th wonder of the world
The most famous actress Philip was linked to was British stage and TV actress Pat Kirkwood.
Bearing a striking resemblance to a young Princess Elizabeth, she was famous for her doe-eyed looks, and her legs were described as the “eighth wonder of the world”.
Rumours refused to die down about an affair between the queen’s husband and actress Pat Kirkwood
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Philip and Pat were first linked in 1948 when a then Princess Elizabeth was pregnant with Prince Charles.
At the time the actress was the highest-paid star on the London stage, and a girlfriend of photographer Baron Nahum.
She was also a member of the Thursday club in Soho which Philip regularly partied at.
Pat claimed years afterwards that one evening the Duke came and visited her dressing room at the London Hippodrome following a performance of the musical Starlight Roof.
The Duke visited her dressing room and they partied until dawn
She said they then went for dinner at Les Ambassadeurs Club in Hamilton Place, carried on to the Milroy Club where the pair danced all night, and stayed up until dawn.
Pat – who always denied an affair, and blasted the Duke’s refusal to do the same – insisted that they were joined at all times on the night by Baron and an equerry.
She also claimed that the only other time she ever saw him was at another performance – although there are reports they met on seven different occasions.
The rumours refused to die down, and – despite a glowing 60-year career – the actress was twice denied an OBE.
A then-Princess Elizabeth was pregnant with Prince Charles at the time
In 1994, Pat went with her fourth husband, Peter Knight, to meet Prince Philip’s aide, Brian McGrath, asking to send a message to the Queen that the allegations were untrue.
The Duke called the rumours a “mythology of the press” in a personal letter to her.
But Pat reportedly told a journalist: “A lady is not normally expected to defend her honour publicly. It is the gentleman who should do that.”
Letters between Prince Philip and Pat are being kept under lock
Since her death in 2007, her private letters to the Duke have been kept under lock and key by royal biographer and historian Michael Thornton.
They will then be handed to Philip’s official biographer following his death.
Although it is claimed the correspondence would quash the idea of an illicit relationship, many have asked why they were writing to each other at all.
The actress nicknamed Queenie
Philip was also alleged to have become close to Oscar-nominated British-Asian actress Merle Oberon.
She moved from her birthplace of Bombay in British India to London at the age of 17 in 1928.
In her first job as a club hostess she used the nickname Queenie, after Queen Mary who visited India with King George V in 1911.
Merle Oberon was nicknamed Queenie before she met the Philip
The royal connection continued with her star role as Anne Boleyn in film The Private life of Henry VIII in 1933.
It is unclear exactly when the Hollywood star could have met Duke, who was ten years her junior.
But royal historian Thornton says she kept a signed photograph of him in silver frame.
The actress entertained him at her Mexico City estate
Her couturier Luis Estevez also says that she entertained him at her estate in Mexico City, but claimed he “never saw anything romantic going on between them”.
She died in 1979 in Malibu, California.
The French actress he’d known since childhood
The Prince was also linked to French-born Greek actress and singer Hélène Cordet.
They were childhood friends who played together during holidays at her parents’ villa in Le Touquet, France.
The Duke has also been linked to childhood friend Hélène Cordet
When her children Max and Louise Boisot were born in 1943 and 1945, there were persistent suggestions their royal godfather Philip was actually their biological father.
It didn’t help that Hélène, who had already separated from her first husband, initially refused to reveal their paternity.
Max also attended the same Scottish boarding school, Gordonstoun, as the Duke.
The actress, who died in 1996, slammed the allegations as “ridiculous”.
There were rumours he was the father of her two children, who she refused to reveal the paternity of
‘He left through the back door as her husband came through the front’
According to Thornton, the Prince met British film actress Katie Boyle, also known as Lady Saunders, several times.
She was the daughter of an Italian marquis and his English wife, and first came to the UK to work as a model for Vogue in 1946.
One unfounded story which circulated was that during one of their meetings the Duke had been forced to quickly exit out the backdoor of her house as her husband entered through the front.
The prince is rumoured to have made a quick exit when Katie Boyle’s husband returned home during one of their meetings
However, thrice-married Katie, who became a presenter for the BBC, vehemently denied this and blasted the affair allegations as “pure fabrication”.
She passed away in March 2018.
The BAFTA winning actress
Anna Massey is another actress frequently mentioned in lists of women the Duke was linked to.
The British star, who died in 2011, was celebrated for her career, which included a BAFTA win.
However, unlike the other actresses, she doesn’t appear to have been as plagued by the rumour mill.
Thornton revealed that they only saw each other once socially and never met up again.
In 2004, she was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to drama – an accolade unlikely to have been given if the rumours had any basis.
Anna Massey met the Duke once
One of the Duke’s respected biographers, Sarah Bradford, is insistent that Philip strayed.
“There is no doubt in my mind at all,’ she told author Gyles Brandreth in 2004.
“The Duke of Edinburgh has had affairs — yes, full-blown affairs and more than one.”
But she indicates that he really did practice what he preached when it came to actresses.
A royal biographer believes Philip did have affairs – just not with actresses
“Not with Pat Kirkwood or Merle Oberon or any of those people,” Bradford adds.
“He’s never been one for chasing actresses. His interest is quite different. The women he goes for are always younger than him, usually beautiful and highly aristocratic.”
While only Philip will really know what happened behind closed doors, it was he who gave the best rebuttal yet for the affair rumours.
In 1992, the Duke told a female reporter: “Good God, woman. Have you ever stopped to think that, for the past 40 years, I have never moved anywhere without a policeman accompanying me?
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“So how the hell could I get away with anything like that?”
Indeed, Ingrid Seward, royal expert and editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, noted: “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.”
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