The Crown: Inside Prince Philip’s relationship with Penelope Knatchbull

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The Netflix documentary will highlight the relationship between Prince Philip and Penelope Knatchbull, who's regarded as the ‘second-most important woman in the Duke of Edinburgh’s life’.

The fifth season of The Crown, which premiered on Netflix on November 9th, has returned to our television screens.

As audiences perceive the royal family's transition into the 1990s, a whole new ensemble is introduced. While other members are portrayed by Dominic West as the Prince of Wales, Elizabeth Debicki as Diana, Princess of Wales, Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker-Bowles, Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne, and so on, Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce respectively play the late Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.

New character in The Crown

This season, viewers will meet a few different characters, including Penelope Knatchbull (played by Natascha McElhone).

The Crown: Inside Prince Philip’s relationship with Penelope Knatchbull Anwar Hussein

Penelope, who is married to Norton Knatchbull and is recognized as Countess Mountbatten of Burma, was reportedly Prince Philip's closest confidante for many years. The pair's relationship blossomed during Prince Philip's struggles with his own marriage to the Queen, reports the Independent.

So how did the pair meet and what's the real relationship between them? Here's everything you need to know about Penelope Knatchbull and her life.

Who is Penelope Knatchbull?

According to The Tab, Penelope, whose nickname is Penny, is the only daughter of Reginald Eastwood, the wealthy founder of the restaurant chain Angus Steakhouse. She and her younger brother Peter grew up in Switzerland before going to the university for university. In 1976, Penny graduated from the London School of Economics.

The Crown: Inside Prince Philip’s relationship with Penelope Knatchbull Ian Tyas

Three years later, she tied the knot with Norton Knatchbull, 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma and the grandson of Louis Mountbatten, Prince Philip's favorite uncle.

Nicholas Knatchbull, also known as Lord Brabourne, Lady Alexandra Hooper, and Leonora Knatchbull, who passed away from kidney cancer in 1991 at the age of five, is the pair's three children.

Prince Philip and Penny's real relationship

However, Penelope and Philip had been friends long before she married Norton. She was barely 20 years old and Philip was 52 when they first met during a polo tournament in 1975, according to Variety.

Despite their 32-year age difference, they had been close friends since then, and once she became his driving companion, they frequently engaged in the equestrian sport of carriage driving. In addition, Penelope frequently went to Wood Farm, a residence on the Sandringham Estate that Philip visited after retiring in 2017.

The Crown: Inside Prince Philip’s relationship with Penelope Knatchbull Tim Graham

Penelope and Philip became great friends to the point that she was one of just 30 mourners allowed to Philip's burial last year, following his passing in April 2021. While all the other attendants have royal roots, Penny was the only non-royal to be allowed. Due to Covid restrictions on the number of persons that might be present in an enclosed location at one time, the Duke's burial was a modest, private event.

Were the pair in love?

The Crown's newest season implies that Phillip could have an emotional relationship with the younger woman while being a husband to the Queen.

Throughout their friendship, there were rumors that Philip had an affair with Penelope, although both people always fiercely rejected the claims.

The Crown: Inside Prince Philip’s relationship with Penelope Knatchbull Chris Jackson

As Philip discusses his marriage, it's anticipated that the couple will hold hands in the Netflix series.

The Queen's former press secretary, Dick Arbiter, called the narrative ‘cruel rubbish’, saying: ‘The truth is that Penny was a long-time friend of the whole family. Netflix is not interested in people’s feelings’.

The Crown's portrayal of Philip and Penelope's interactions was criticized by Majesty magazine editor Ingrid Seward as being ‘exceedingly bad taste’. Seward declared:

‘It's fiction. There’s no way in a million years he’d discuss his marriage with anybody. The royals probably won’t watch it for their sanity’.

Read more:

What to expect from the new Princess Diana documentary

The Crown cast vs the Royal Family in real life

© Max Mumby

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