Glamorous friends of dashing prince

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·2-min read

The Duke of Edinburgh was linked to many glamorous women, from socialites to film stars.

But those close to Philip always insisted claims of affairs were untrue.

Even the duke himself strongly rejected the rumours, and bemoaned the press’s perception of his female friends.

Philip with his former private secretary Lieutenant-Commander Mike Parker, who insisted the duke was 100% faithful to the Queen
Philip with his former private secretary, Lieutenant-Commander Mike Parker, who insisted the duke was 100% faithful to the Queen (PA)

“As far as I’m concerned, every time I talk to a woman, they say I’ve been to bed with her – as if she had no say in the matter,” he once told broadcaster Jeremy Paxman.

He added: “Well, I’m bloody flattered at my age to think some girl is interested in me. It’s absolutely cuckoo.”

When another journalist managed to quiz him in 1992, he retorted: “Have you ever stopped to think that, for the last 40 years, I have never moved anywhere without a policeman accompanying me?

“So how the hell could I get away with anything like that?”

Actresses Merle Oberon, Anna Massey and Pat Kirkwood, author Daphne du Maurier, Italian Countess Bonnie Frescobaldi, the Duchess of Abercorn, and Philip’s carriage driving partner, the former Lady Penny Romsey, were among the names associated with the duke over the years.

The Duke of Edinburgh with the former Penny Romsey at the Royal Windsor Horse Show
The Duke of Edinburgh with the former Penny Romsey at the Royal Windsor Horse Show (Steve Parsons/PA)

Yet the duke’s former private secretary, Mike Parker, insisted he had been 100% faithful to the Queen, while Lord Charteris, formerly the Queen’s private secretary, said there was no evidence of any kind that he had strayed.

Biographer Sarah Bradford wrote in 1996 that she believed Philip had not been faithful.

Yet 15 years later she admitted she might have been mistaken.

Gyles Brandreth, who examined the duke and the Queen’s relationship in his 2004 book, concluded the female friends were merely playmates, not mistresses.

The Duke of Edinburgh shakes hands with Swedish actress Britt Ekland at the Royal Film Performance in London
The Duke of Edinburgh shakes hands with Swedish actress Britt Ekland at the Royal Film Performance in London (PA)

There were rumours that Philip had had an affair with cabaret singer and childhood friend Helene Cordet and that her son, Max Boisot, was his.

Yet the claims were always denied, with Mr Boisot even going so far as to issue a statement in 1988 insisting the duke was not his father.

American biographer Kitty Kelley admitted having difficulty “digging dirt” on Philip, such was the support of his friends.

Sacha Abercorn, who was also linked to him, said they simply shared an interest in Jung’s philosophy.

“It was a passionate friendship, but the passion was in the ideas. It was certainly not a full relationship,” she once said. “I did not go to bed with him.”