Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II appear to have the perfect relationship, but season 2 of The Crown explores the affair rumours that plagued the early years of their marriage.
The Netflix drama delves into controversial allegations that Prince Philip ‘cheated’ on the monarch in the follow-up to the critically acclaimed first series.
In the opening episode, the Queen fears her husband has been unfaithful after discovering a photo of ballerina Galina Ulanova.
As the season progresses, Claire Foy’s character has to deal with endless inferences about Phillip’s infidelity – but what is the truth behind the rumours?
Did Prince Philip cheat with a Russian ballerina?
In the first episode of season 2, the royal couple’s marriage seems to be perfect as Phillip sets out on a five-month tour of the Commonwealth.
But when Elizabeth goes to surprise Philip by putting a gift in his suitcase she gets a nasty shock of her own.
The Queen finds a small photo of Galina Ulanova, a much-acclaimed Russian ballerina, tucked away in her husband’s bag.
In a poignant later scene, she goes to the Royal Ballet to see Galina perform the lead role in Giselle, although she refuses an offer to meet the dancer afterwards.
Born in 1910, many considered Galina to be one of the greatest ballerinas of all time, and she awarded both the Stalin Prize and Medal and the Lenin Prize in 1957.
The dancer kept her personal life very private, so it is unknown whether Prince Philip did have an affair with her or was just an admirer.
According to The Independent’s obituary of the star: “She ended up with a female companion who guarded her and served her needs.”
However, it is true that the Queen did attend the Royal Opera House to see Galina perform.
What did Philip get up to in the notorious Thursday Club?
Prince Philip remains a member of the Thursday Club, along with his private secretary Mike Parker (Daniel Ings).
Matt Smith’s character regular attends the club in Soho, London, for nights out with the boys – away from his wife.
Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) tells the Queen in Episode 1 that Parker has a “reputation”, which sets the scene for endless inferences about infidelity.
Philip then tours the Commonwealth on the Royal Yacht Britannia and Parker writes a letter to the Thursday Club, which is read aloud to the members, and refers to the trip as a “five-month stag do – whores in every port”.
In real life, the group met for lunch every Thursday in a private room at Wheeler’s restaurant in Soho – which was known for some pretty wild parties.
The rumours were backed by Parker’s ex-wife Eileen, who published a book in 1982 where she alleged her husband the Phillip would use secret identities to meet women.
In Step Aside For Royalty, Eileen claims the pair used the names ‘Murgatroyd and Winterbottom’ on nights out without their wives.
According to Parker’s 2002 Telegraph obituary , he called these allegations “the biggest load of hogwash I’ve ever read in my life”.
Do historians believe Philip had affairs?
Prince Philip has been hit with numerous cheating claims through their marriage – but all of these have denied by the Palace and are unsubstantiated.
Biographer Sarah Bradford has claimed to have spoken to women who have confirmed the Prince’s affairs.
In 2004, she said: “There is no doubt in my mind at all. The Duke of Edinburgh has had affairs — yes, full-blown affairs and more than one.
“And the Queen accepts it. I think she thinks that’s how men are.”
While author Ingrid Seward, in her book My Husband And I: The Inside Story Of 70 Years Of Royal Marriage, wrote that she believes the jury is out.
She said: “Through most of the Queen and Prince Philip’s 70-year marriage, rumours of his alleged affairs have been rife.
“Even now, people wonder how he could have left his wife and two young children — Charles and Anne — for a jaunt round far-flung outposts of the Commonwealth in late 1956.
Seward added: “The jury is out, but it hardly seems credible that anything untoward could have taken place without the knowledge of at least some of the royal yacht Britannia’s crew of 220 men and 20 officers.”
* All 10 episodes of The Crown season 2 are now on Netflix