The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Tender moments spoke of a love
Prince Philip’s eye for beautiful women and determination to pursue his own interests in life landed him at the centre of the most salacious of London gossip.
In October 1956 he set off on a world cruise in the Royal Yacht Britannia with two male companions, away from his wife and their two children for more than four months.
This appeared unusual and prompted speculation their marriage was in trouble. Unusually for those days, Buckingham Palace was stung into a fast response, issuing an official denial that there was any rift.
In many ways the Duke and the Queen did lead separate lives.
They had their own dining rooms, sitting rooms and bathrooms, and when in 1982 an intruder gained access to the Queen’s bedroom and reports made it clear that the Queen slept alone, there was popular surprise — even sympathy.
The intimate side of Philip’s life was inevitably a matter for speculation as his obvious attraction to beautiful women was no secret.
While he was still a bachelor his cousin, Alexandra, Queen of Yugoslavia, said: “Blondes, brunettes and red-headed charmers, Philip gallantly, and I think impartially, squired them all.”
When, during the Duchess of Argyll’s sensational divorce trial in 1963, photo (from the neck down) emerged of an oral sex session at a
party, Prince Philip’s name was included in newspaper gossip about who might have been the man.
No shred of evidence was even hinted at, but for weeks speculation added to the gaiety of the nation.
“The way papers write about my affairs,” he once told Lady Brabourne, Lord Mountbatten’s daughter, “I might as well have done it.”
The truth was that the marriage emerged as exceptionally strong: a bond that seemed only to grow, enduring past the couple’s diamond anniversary in 2007 and beyond the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, as her husband stood for hours beside her in the driving rain.
A lasting tenderness between the royal couple is confirmed by those who knew them off duty in – but only ever in – circumstances that were relaxed and private.
A former lady-in-waiting at the palace remembers, after a dinner, a hand placed fondly and with great naturalness on the Queen’s shoulder as the couple rose from the table.
“She turned and looked up at him. It was one of those little moments that say a lot,” she said.
A visitor to Sandringham remembers sitting by the fire and looking out of the window when the Queen jumped up: “Oh look, Philip is out there. He’s been driving the fourin-hand again – in the snow!” This was said “with absolute affection”.