British Royal Family

A troubled childhood and shock scandals: What The Crown was right and wrong about when it came to Prince Philip

The Duke of Edinburgh's life was quite the eventful one.

By Alex Lilly
It's safe to say that The Crown has won over millions since its Netflix debut but when it comes to historical accuracy, there have been certain embellishments.
The award-winning television show that follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II has run for four seasons and shone a light on royal events ranging from her sudden ascent to the throne through to the ins-and-outs of Charles and Diana's marriage.
Whilst the Queen is of course the show's main character, her devoted husband Prince Philip has been by her side as he was in real life.
Played by Matt Smith in the first two seasons, Tobias Menzies for the third and fourth and to be played by Jonathan Pryce for the final fifth and sixth seasons, the Duke of Edinburgh is a major player in the show and has been the subject of many storylines. But how many actually happened when it came to the royal patriarch?
In the wake of the real-life royal's death, we examine what The Crown got right about Philip and what was just for the show.

Prince Philip's tough childhood - true

We may be used to seeing Philip as a grandfather and great-grandfather, but back when he was a young boy, life wasn't easy.
Philip was born in Greece to Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg but the family fled to Paris during a period of political upheaval - Philip was even smuggled out of the country in an orange crate.
Princess Alice later had a nervous breakdown and was institutionalised against her will and Philip was forced to live in the UK with various relatives.

Philip was responsible for his sister's death - false

In season two, Philip's pregnant sister Cecelie dies in a plane crash with her family.
The Crown hints that Cecelie planned to skip the wedding that required her to catch a plane, and only changed her plans after Philip got in trouble at school, however royal historian Hugo Vickers has slammed this storyline.
"There was no fight, almost certainly no half-term, and Prince Philip would not have gone to Germany anyway. His sister was always coming to the wedding," he told Vogue.
"Prince Philip was called into his headmaster's study and has written of the profound shock he experienced on hearing the news—made worse by the fact that his sister was pregnant. The child, a baby boy, was born in the trauma of the accident. Prince Philip had nothing to do with the accident at all."
Matt Smith as a young Prince Philip. (Netflix)

His involvement in the Profumo Affair - false

Season two of The Crown also sees Philip involved in the Profumo Affair - named after John Profumo the then-secretary of state for war who had a five month affair with 19-year-old model Christine Keeler.
Buckingham Palace has always denied Philip's involvement and maintained that there is no direct evidence that he was involved in the scandal at all.

Prince Philip cheated on the Queen - false(ish)

The Crown's second season features a rocky period in Philip and the Queen's marriage when Philip was suspected of being unfaithful to his wife.
The Duke of Edinburgh spent five months aboard the royal yacht Britannia away from his wife and two young children and the show hints that he had a fling with ballet dancer, Galina Ulanova.
Whilst one of Her Majesty's spokespersons released a statement in 1957 that read "It is quite untrue that there is any rift between the Queen and the Duke," royal experts reckon there could be some truth in the matter.
Ingrid Seward, royal biographer and author of My Husband and I: The Inside Story of 70 Years of the Royal Marriage, told RadioTimes.com: "There is absolutely no proof that he was unfaithful. But I imagine he might have been."
"[The Queen] was very conscious of the fact that he had to walk two steps behind her, and I think as a result she was very forgiving of any of his little misdemeanours."
Tobias Menzies and Olivia Colman as the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen, respectively. (Netflix)

He reconnected with his mother in the 1960s - true

Philip's mother Princess Alice is mentioned in season three when she is brought back from Greece to Buckingham Palace at the Queen's order during another period of political turmoil.
Though Philip originally avoids his mother, after she gives an interview to The Guardian that humanises the Firm, the two mend their relationship.
In reality, Alice did return to Buckingham Palace in 1967 and stayed there until her death in 1969 but no such interview took place.

The moon landing obsession - false

In season three, former RAF pilot Prince Philip feels lost and is enthralled by the televised moment the first men walk on the moon and takes a keen interest in the history-making event.
A scene shows the royal flying one of his planes and propels the plane towards the moon, alarming his assistant, before levelling the plane and remarking: "Look, we've also lived... just for a minute."
History shows, however, that there's no such evidence of Philip's interest in NASA or the moon landing.
Tobias Menzies whilst filming The Crown. (Instagram)

Philip's bond with Diana - true

In the latest season of the show, Prince Philip and Lady Diana Spencer bond at Balmoral whilst hunting and it seems this was true in real life too.
"When Diana first joined the royal family, it was Philip who came to her aid, sitting next to her at black-tie dinners and chatting to her while she learned to master the art of small talk," Ingrid Seward wrote in biography, Prince Philip Revealed.
Later on, it was Philip who showed his sympathetic side when she and Charles were having marital problems.
"We do not approve of either of you having lovers. Charles was silly to risk everything with Camilla for a man in his position. We never dreamed he might feel like leaving you for her. I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind leaving you for Camilla. Such a prospect never even entered our heads," Philip wrote in a letter to his daughter-in-law.

For more information on Prince Philip's death and his colourful life, check out the links below