Penny Knatchbull: A Remarkable Friendship with Prince Philip
In the world of kings and queens, Prince Philip found an unexpected confidante in Penny Knatchbull. Let’s dive into the extraordinary bond they shared and Penny’s fascinating journey.
Early Life and Royal Connections
Born Penelope Meredith Mary Eastwood, Penny grew up with ties to Angus Steak House, founded by her father, Reginald Eastwood. Despite Angus Steak House facing ups and downs, Penny’s connection with royalty began when she married Norton Knatchbull in 1979. Prince Charles, a close friend, served as the best man, linking Penny even closer to the royal family.
A Friendship Born from Shared Grief
The roots of Philip and Penny’s friendship trace back to 1974, where their mutual love for outdoors and horses brought them together. However, it was in 1991, during Penny’s heartbreaking loss of her 5-year-old daughter, Leonora, to cancer, that Philip embraced her as a pillar of support. Their shared passion for carriage driving, a sport Philip cherished, solidified their friendship.
Marriage into Royalty
Penny’s ties to the royal family deepened through marriage. In 1979, she became Penelope Knatchbull by marrying Norton, Philip’s godson and King Charles III’s second cousin. Norton, the grandson of Louis Mountbatten, had a significant influence on King Charles III’s life, even attempting to arrange a marriage between Charles and Norton’s sister, Amanda.
Rumors and Royal Events
In the ’70s, rumors circulated about a romantic connection between Penny and Prince Charles, though they were later debunked. Despite tabloid speculations, Penny remained a constant at royal events, earning the affectionate nickname “And Also” from Prince Philip. Her presence was notable, even at Prince Philip’s funeral, where she stood as one of the few non-family attendees.
A Mother’s Grief and Royal Connections
Penny and Norton have three children, Nicholas, Alexandra, and the late Leonora. Leonora’s tragic death strengthened Penny’s bond with the royal family. Nicholas, now in line to inherit Mountbatten’s wealth, faced challenges but reportedly overcame them. King Charles III’s role as Nicholas’s godfather adds another layer to the family’s royal connections.
Addressing Rumors: No Affair with Prince Philip
Despite rumors surrounding Prince Philip and Penny, there’s no evidence of an affair. Both Philip and Penny dismissed the speculations, with Philip expressing frustration at the press. Penny’s loyalty to the royal family, especially during challenging times, remained unwavering.
Marital Struggles and a Return Home
While Penny’s marriage faced challenges when Norton left for the Bahamas with his mistress in 2010, he eventually returned in 2014. Norton’s battle with Alzheimer’s has led Penny to take on significant responsibilities, managing the Mountbatten fortune and assuming ceremonial duties tied to Norton’s titles.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Perspective
The queen’s feelings about Philip and Penny’s friendship remain a mystery. Observers noted the queen’s apparent fondness for Penny, acknowledging her strength during difficult times. However, the queen’s thoughts on the intricacies of their relationship are unknown.
A Lasting Friendship and Shared Responsibilities
Despite Prince Philip’s retirement in 2017, Penny remained a steadfast friend, regularly visiting him until his passing in 2021. She played a pivotal role in convincing Philip to give up driving after a 2019 car accident. With Norton’s health declining, Penny now manages both family responsibilities and ceremonial duties associated with their titles.
Broadlands: A Royal Connection
The Knatchbulls’ family home, Broadlands, has a rich history dating back centuries. Previously visited by Queen Elizabeth II and Philip during their honeymoon, it later became the honeymoon destination for Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The estate remains a symbol of the enduring connection between the Knatchbulls and the royal family.