Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have been married for 70 years in one of history's longest and most famous royal love matches. Elizabeth fell in love with Philip while visiting Dartmouth's Royal Naval College in Dartmouth with her family — when she was only 13. Blond, handsome Philip, then 18, entertained the young princess by jumping over the tennis nets — her nanny later commented on how he seemed to be showing off a great deal for her. From that day on, they wrote to each other and Elizabeth kept a photo of him on her wall. But it wasn't until 7 years later, when Elizabeth was nearing 21, that they got engaged during the summer in Balmoral. Friends of the queen say that since the day they first met, she's never looked at anyone else. No one says the same of Philip.
Elizabeth's father, King George VI, was against the marriage from the start because he thought Philip wouldn't be faithful to her. And though there's no hard proof of Philip's affairs over the years, he's had the reputation of a ladies' man right up to the ripe old age of 96. But did Prince Philip cheat on Queen Elizabeth? Let's take a look at the theories put forth in The Crown and the evidence behind some of his famously scandalous stories.
Prince Philip allegedly had a girlfriend whom he met privately at one or another of the royal houses. Norman Barson, a former Grenadier guardsman who served Queen Elizabeth, said Prince Philip generally arrived mid-week at Windlesham Moore in his sports car, laughing and joking with a young woman as Barson served the couple beef sandwiches and gin and orange by the open fire. During these visits, Philip supposedly would use the servants’ entrance and as he left would say to the soldier, “Don’t forget, you haven’t seen me.”
At a royal dinner party, The Crown shows an enamored Philip buzzing around Jackie Kennedy while everybody in the room throws pitying glances at Queen Elizabeth who quietly seethes as she watches them.
In reality, Philip probably did flirt hardcore with Jackie. He looks pretty excited standing beside her in all the official photos and apparently after the event, a drugged-up Jackie described Philip as "nervous" and may have admitted she could perceive no connection whatsoever between the queen and her husband. If this wasn't enough to make Jackie sound like a catty teenager trying to steal another girl's boyfriend, the First Lady went on to badmouth Elizabeth's hair, clothes, and house decorations.
In Jackie's defense, she and the president were apparently shooting up speed-laced cocktails provided by Dr. Feelgood himself, but even if her lips were loose, it's possible everything that spilled out was her truthful impression of the evening and the famous royal couple.
In The Crown, Philip's private secretary Michael Parker sent a letter to the Thursday Club describing how much he and Philip enjoyed three days with the beautiful women of Tonga and left "very much in love." Though this story was made up for the show, it captured Philip and Mike's real friendship which started in the Royal Navy where the two men reveled in shore leave and where “there was always armfuls of girls.”
When Prince Philip married Elizabeth, he called on his old friend to become his private secretary. Parker had an appetite for bachelor parties and bohemian friends and the two reportedly often slipped out of the palace together in the evening, quipping, “Murgatroyd and Winterbottom have popped out for a stroll.” But in February of 1957, after 10 years of steady partying, Michael resigned aboard the Britannia much as he did on The Crown, just 24 hours after word leaked out that he and his wife had separated.
Because Parker and Philip were so close, the secretary's marital troubles set off rumors of a rift between Philip and Elizabeth. Palace officials worried that scurrilous evidence involving Philip might come out during Parker's divorce case. Despite Philip's title as duke and first gentleman in the land, he could have been subpoenaed to testify for Mrs. Parker in court. So unlike the show, where Elizabeth turned Philip into a prince to satisfy his ego, the real reason was most likely to put him beyond the reach of the court.
In The Crown's second season, Elizabeth sends Philip on a five-month cruise on the royal yacht Britannia amidst quiet infidelity rumors. While attempting to sneak a note into his suitcase before he leaves, she finds a picture of real-life ballerina Galina Ulanova, who performed in London with the Bolshoi Ballet in 1956. The episode ends with Elizabeth attending one of Ulanova's performances where the two women eye each other knowingly as if seated on opposite ends of a pub.
However, there's no evidence Philip and Ulanova ever met. He probably saw her perform in London but aside from a formal introduction, Ulanova didn't have time for royal bed frolicking in between rehearsals, performances, and travel. And even if she'd had time to hook up with Philip, Ulanova was 11 years older than he and known to be reserved, private, and possibly even a lesbian. She also grew up cold and starving in a Soviet-era ballet school, which didn't fit the mold of Philip's usual playthings who were younger, fun, rich aristocrats.