Who Is Penny Knatchbull in “The Crown” Season 5?

windsor, united kingdom   may 12 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time penelope knatchbull, lady brabourne and prince philip, duke of edinburgh attend day 3 of the royal windsor horse show in home park on may 12, 2007 in windsor, england photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
Who Is Penny Knatchbull in “The Crown” Season 5?Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images


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The newest chapter of Netflix’s The Crown depicts the complex marriage between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, who wed in 1947 and remained married for 73 years until Philip’s death in April 2021. But season 5 of the drama series, inspired by the real-life events of England’s royal family, puts a lens on his relationship with another woman in his life, Penny Knatchbull.

In season 5, we're introduced to Penny (Natascha McElhone) who is a close confidante of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Jonathan Pryce). Although the Queen (Imelda Staunton) suspects that Penny and Philip are having an affair, Philip reassures his wife that their relationship is solely an “intellectual and spiritual companionship.” As Ingrid Seward penned in her 2020 book Prince Philip Revealed, Penny became the “second-most important woman in the Duke of Edinburgh’s life” and his “keeper of secrets.”

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But who exactly is Penny Knatchbull? How did she know the royal family, and how did she and Philip grow to be so close?

First, we’ll back it all up to the beginning.

Penny Knatchbull’s early life

Penny was born Penelope Meredith Mary Eastwood on April 1,6, 1953 in London (which means she’s 32 years younger than the late Prince Philip). She is the only daughter of Reginald Eastwood — who founded the Angus Steakhouse restaurant chain — and Marian Hood. In 1976, Penny graduated from the London School of Economics.

Her marriage to Norton Knatchbull

20th october 1979  the grandson of lord louis mountbatten, lord romsey, marries penelope eastwood at romsey abbey  the event being dubbed the wedding of the year with over 900 guests in attendance from almost all of europes leading families  photo by central pressgetty images
Central Press - Getty Images

In 1979 Penny married Lord Romsey Norton Knatchbull, later 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Norton was Prince Philip’s godson and the grandson of Louis Mountbatten — who was assassinated by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) two months before Penny and Norton’s wedding, according to History.com. (His death is depicted in season 1, episode one of The Crown.) At their nuptials ceremony, King Charles (then Prince) served as the best man to Norton.

windsor, united kingdom   july 01  prince charles with earl mountbatten and penelope eastwood who became lady penelope penny romsey when she later married norton knatchbull, lord romsey at polo exact date not certain  photo by tim graham photo library via getty images
Tim Graham - Getty Images

Through her relationship and then marriage to Norton Knatchbull, Penny grew closer to the royal family. She had three children with Norton: Nicholas, Alexandra, and Leonora (whose godmother was Princess Diana). However, in 1991, Leonora passed away after a yearlong battle with a rare type of kidney cancer.

The beginning of her friendship with Prince Philip

Penny’s friendship with Prince Philip unfolded after her daughter’s death, Seward wrote in Prince Philip Revealed, per Today. “Philip befriended her when her life began to fall apart… and encouraged her to take up carriage driving,” the outlet writes. Over the years, they continued to bond over a shared love of carriage driving and horses. They’ve been photographed at several events together, alongside other members of the royal family.

windsor, england   may 11  lady penny brabourne formerly known as penny romsey and sometimes known as lady romsey talks to prince philip, duke of edinburgh after competing in the land rover international driving grand prix on the first day of the royal windsor horse show on may 11, 2006 in windsor, england photo by tim graham photo library via getty images
Tim Graham - Getty Images
windsor, united kingdom   may 14 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 48 hours after create date and time hrh prince philip, the duke of edinburgh, and lady penny brabourne formerly lady penny romsey during day three of the royal windsor horse show 2009 on may 14, 2009 in windsor, england photo by indigogetty images
Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images
windsor, united kingdom   may 12 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time prince philip, duke of edinburgh and penelope knatchbull, lady brabourne attend day 3 of the royal windsor horse show in home park on may 12, 2007 in windsor, england photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images
windsor, united kingdom   may 11 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time prince philip, duke of edinburgh and penelope knatchbull, lady brabourne seen riding mini easy rider motorbikes as they attend day 1 of the royal windsor horse show in home park on may 11, 2006 in windsor, england photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images

According to The Sun, Penny was given the nickname “And Also” because she was such a frequent guest of the royals. Up until Prince Philip’s death in 2021, at the age of 99, she continued to visit him at his home. And on April 17, 2021, she was one of 30 guests (and the only non-relative) to attend his funeral at St. George’s Chapel.

windsor, united kingdom   april 17 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time penelope knatchbull, countess mountbatten of burma arrives at windsor castle to attend the funeral of prince philip, duke of edinburgh on april 17, 2021 in windsor, united kingdom the duke of edinburgh travelled extensively during his royal naval service  as prince consort to hm queen elizabeth ii he visited 144 countries, he was fluent in french and german the youth scheme he set up in 1956, the duke of edinburghs award, is now held in 143 different countries the duke died, age 99, at windsor castle on april 9, 2021, and his funeral is held today, also at windsor photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images

Her relationship with Queen Elizabeth

The Crown depicts Penny and Prince Philip’s friendship as a source of contention in his marriage to the Queen, and the season seems to hint that their bond was fairly flirtatious and bordering on a romantic affair. But the Queen and Penny appeared friendly and shared many laughs and smiles at events through the years.

windsor, england   may 11  queen elizabeth ii and lady penny romsey attend the royal windsor horse show at home park on may 11, 2018 in windsor, england photo by mark cuthbertuk press via getty images
Mark Cuthbert - Getty Images
windsor, england   july 1 queen elizabeth ii and penelope knatchbull, countess mountbatten of burma visit the royal windsor horse show 2021 at windsor castle on july 1, 2021 in windsor, england photo by mark cuthbertuk press via getty images
Mark Cuthbert - Getty Images
windsor, united kingdom   may 13 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time queen elizabeth ii, accompanied by penelope knatchbull, countess mountbatten of burma, watches her horse balmoral leia win the horse  hound mountain  moorland supreme in hand championship on day 2 of the royal windsor horse show at home park, windsor castle on may 13, 2022 in windsor, england photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images

Per The Sun, Seward wrote in her book, “We’ll never know how the Queen felt about it all. Philip always was a flirt and the Queen used to joke about his lascivious nature. If she had been hurt by rumors of supposed dalliances, she would never let on.”

On September 19, 2022, Penny attended Queen Elizabeth’s funeral at Westminster Abbey in London.

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