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Queen Elizabeth: Love, Honour and Crown: the true story behind Anthony Blunt and The Queen

Anthony Blunt was a Soviet spy who worked for the royal family 

Emmy Griffiths

Channel 4 is set to air a new documentary, Queen Elizabeth: Love, Honour and Crown, which will look at some of the bigger conflicts between the crown and family throughout Her Majesty's reign, which will feature recently de-classified letters and documents - hinting that we might found even more about the inner workings of Buckingham Palace than we ever did before. 

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The first episode, titled Queen Elizabeth and the Spy in the Palace, will look at the monarch's relationship with art historian Anthony Blunt, who was revealed to be a Soviet spy.

The situation was also covered in the hit show The Crownbut what is the true story behind Anthony's time working at the palace? Find out more here...

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Anthony Blunt worked as the Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures from 1945 to 1972, which consisted of looking after the Royal Collection's artwork. During his time working for the royal family, he was awarded a knighthood, with the family none-the-wiser that Anthony was a Soviet spy. 

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He was recruited by his friend, Guy Burgess, during their time at Trinity College, with the author of Stalin's Englishmen Andrew Lownie telling Town and Country magazine: "I think, absolutely, that Blunt would never have been recruited if he hadn't been so friendly with Burgess. It was Burgess who recruited him... [without him] Blunt would've just remained a sort of Marxist art professor at Cambridge."

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Anthony was a Soviet spy

However, Anthony spoke about stepping away from his work with the Soviets in a press conference in 1979, saying: "This was a gradual process and I find it very difficult to analyse. It is, after all, more than 30 years ago. But it was the information that came out immediately after the war. During the war one was simply thinking of them as Allies et cetera, but then with the information about the camps... it was episodes of that kind."

Anthony's double life was eventually discovered, but due to his ties to MI5, it was kept a secret from the public to avoid embarrassment, and therefore Anthony was able to continue working for the royal family as an advisor for the Queen's picture. While the Queen had very little to do with Anthony following the revelation, she did see him at the opening of the Courtauld Institute's new galleries in 1968, and congratulated him on his retirement in 1972. 

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The Queen with Anthony Blunt

His espionage was eventually revealed publicly by Margaret Thatcher in 1979, which led to him being stripped of his knighthood, and removed as an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College. He also resigned as a Fellow of the British Academy. 

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