Heritage
Did Prince Philip Really Cheat on Queen Elizabeth During the Early Years of Their Marriage?
What happened at the Thursday Club and who was his private secretary, Mike Parker?
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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Prince Philip has been the subject of infidelity rumors throughout his 70-year marriage with the Queen. Past reports include affairs with some high profile personalities, such as actress Pat Kirkwood and Helene Foufounis but none of the scandals ever had any real basis, wrote Ingrid Seward in a book called My Husband And I: The Inside Story of 70 Years of Royal Marriage.

But less than 10 years after their wedding, the Duke of Edinburgh took a baffling royal tour around the world, which remains a strange decision for both Seward and the royal watchers. He left behind his wife and children, Charles and Anne, for a good part of the year. The trip lasted at least four months on board the royal yacht Britannia and had a crew of 220 men and 20 officers, according to Seward. What exactly triggered His Highness to embark on such a long tour and what exactly happened on the Britannia?


The Prince was already linked to the scandalous gentlemen’s lunch club in London, which he no doubt frequented. Author Philip Eade details in his book Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II that described it as “rip-roaring stag parties.” One surviving member of the club wrote an article for the Independent, calling it the “gang of cronies that the Duke of Edinburgh used to gather around him in 1950s to have a bit of fun away from his serious life in Buckingham Palace.”

There they talked about women and were surrounded by female servers. The author, however, recounts a conversation they were having about the Thursday Club where one of the girls say, “Nothing exciting ever happens at the Thursday Club! Nobody ever gets out of line! It is all as safe as houses. We have a drink and we put a Joe Loss record on but it is all as boring as hell.” To this, Prince Philip agrees.

What of the royal tour? Well, the Telegraph reports that during the tour, there was some tomfoolery. Philip was with artist friend Edward Seago and right-hand man Mike Parker. The article reports that they issued certificates with photos of the prince sporting a red nose for all the members of the newly founded Order of the Red Nose—the men who journeyed with the royal to the Antarctic. There were claims that women were onboard the yacht but these were never supported by any evidence.

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As the prince’s private secretary, Parker was a close friend. It was really Parker who got news of the King George’s death and reported it to the Prince while on a trip to Kenya, the Scottish Daily Mail reports. Parker also had some relationship with King George, who had asked for his advice on the design of the Britannia. He was also part of the Thursday Club and had denied rumors of the sexual encounters and parties that went on in the club. “People got very merry, but never drunk. As far as being wild, not guilty. As far as hanging around women, not guilty,” he said. It was ultimately his widely publicized divorce to his wife Eileen that forced him to resign from the position.

But beyond the rumors was a “deeply hurt” Duke. Parker once revealed that “The Duke was incandescent. He was very, very angry. And deeply hurt.”

In a statement issued by the Queen’s secretary, it announced that “It is quite untrue that there is any rift between the Queen and the Duke.”

While many rumors of affairs have surfaced, only one of the royal family’s respected biographers, Sarah Bradford, believes in it. Most of the women linked to the prince have denied the allegations so far.


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Hannah Lazatin
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