The Crown: Who is Penny Knatchbull? The woman who had a close friendship with Prince Philip

She’s been called the ‘second-most important woman in the Duke of Edinburgh’s life’

In season five of The Crown, one of the many focal points is the relationship Prince Philip had with Penny Knatchbull. We see the pair as having a very close friendship, despite Penny being 30 years younger than the Duke of Edinburgh.

So how did they meet and where did this friendship blossom from in real life? Is how we see their relationship in The Crown like how it was in real life? Here is everything we know about Penny Knatchbull, her life, and her relationship with Prince Philip.

Penelope Penny Knatchbull and Prince Philip in season five of The Crown on Netflix

via Netflix

Penny Knatchbull was born in April 1953

Penny Knatchbull’s full name is Penelope Meredith Mary Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma. She was born in London on April 16th 1953, and has served under a number of different titles during her time. She was known between 1979 and 2005 as Lady Romsey, and between 2005 and 2017 as The Lady Brabourne.

Penny is the only daughter of Reginald Eastwood, who is the founder of restaurant chain, Angus Steakhouse. She had one younger brother, Peter Eastwood, who passed away in 2013. Penny grew up in Switzerland and went to school there, before returning for the UK for university. She graduated from the London School of Economics in 1976.

She married into aristocracy in 1979, and now has three children

via Netflix

In 1979, Penny Knatchbull married Norton Knatchbull, 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Norton’s parents are Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, and John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne. He’s the grandson of Louis Mountbatten, who was Philip’s favourite uncle.

The couple have three children: Nicholas Knatchbull who is Lord Brabourne, Lady Alexandra Hooper and The Hon. Leonora Knatchbull. Leonora was Princess Diana’s goddaughter. Leonora died in October 1991 from kidney cancer, at five-years-old. Penny and Norton later founded the charity Leonora Children’s Cancer Fund in their daughter’s memory. The charity has since merged with The Edwina Mountbatten Trust and is now called The Edwina Mountbatten And Leonora Children’s Foundation.

Their family house is a fancy stately home in Hampshire. It’s grade II listed and in the summer is open to public visits. The property is known as Broadlands.

Penny Knatchbull and Prince Philip had a very close friendship

Penny and Norton Knatchbull were close friends with the late Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II. The two families were so close, Penelope was one of only 30 guests who went to Prince Philip’s funeral. Penny was the only non-royal in attendance.

Penny and Prince Philip became very close friends in the 1990s, and Penny met the Prince through her husband. She met Philip when she married her husband, and then began going to royal events. After they grew close, Penny and Philip had a life-long friendship – and Prince Philip often said Penny was his closest friend. Journalist Caroline Graham said Penny was the “second-most important woman in the Duke of Edinburgh’s life”.

They shared a playful friendship and had a lot of hobbies in common, and Caroline Graham also said Penny developed into being Philip’s “keeper of secrets”. According to The Sun: “Philip first began teaching Penny the daredevil equestrian sport of carriage driving in 1994 and they remained firm friends for the rest of his life.” After Penny lost her daughter to cancer, Philip thought teaching her the sport might be a nice distraction for her.

Penelope Penny Knatchbull and Prince Philip in season five of The Crown on Netflix

via Netflix

The Knatchbull family are also very close to the now King Charles

King Charles and Norton Knatchbull are second cousins, and Charles was best man when Penny and Norton married. When Penny and Norton’s daughter, Lady Alexandra Hooper, got married, Charles walked her down the aisle. Norton’s grandfather is Louis Mountbatten, who is Charles’ uncle.

What does Penny Knatchbull do now?

When she married, Penny was given the title of Lady Romsey, and in 2017 became The Lady Brabourne. She has now inherited the title of Countess Mountbatten of Burma. Since 2010, Penny Knatchbull has also served as High Steward of Romsey.

The Crown season five is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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