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Prince Philip in The Crown: what was true and what wasn't?

We look at some of the late Prince Philip's biggest moments on the show

the crown
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
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Prince Philip was a remarkable member of the royal family, with an incredibly impressive career and dedication to the monarchy, much of which was depicted in the hit Netflix show The CrownBut what was fact, and what was fiction? Find out here... 

MORE: Prince Philip's sweetest family pictures with his children and grandchildren

Did Prince Philip have to renounce his royal titles to marry the Queen? 

As The Crown season one depicts, Prince Philip renounced his royal title as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, where he was sixth-in-line to the Greek throne, in order to wed the Queen. However, he and his family were exiled from the country when Philip was a baby, and he previously told The Independent that he thought of himself as Danish, saying: "If anything, I've thought of myself as Scandinavian. Particularly, Danish. We spoke English at home." 

WATCH: The Crown depicts the royal family over the decades

Did Prince Philip break the news to the Queen that her father had passed away?

Prince Philip did indeed learn that King George VI had passed away before the Queen after being told by a local reporter during their tour of Kenya. Philip was the one to break to news to his wife during a walk around the grounds. The pair cut their trip short and returned to the UK following the news.

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Prince Philip did indeed break the news to the Queen

Did the Prince want the Mountbatten surname for his children?

Prince Philip was famously thought to have shouted: "I'm just a bloody amoeba," after learning that his children would not bear his surname, and would instead take the 'Windsor' name. So, like in The Crown, it sounds like he was indeed unhappy with their surnames. 

The surname 'Mountbatten-Windsor' has subsequently been given to descendants of the Queen and Prince Philip who are not future Sovereigns, including Prince Harry and Meghan's son Archie.

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Prince Philip was reportedly unhappy that his children wouldn't have his surname

Was the Prince reluctant to kneel to the Queen on her coronation?

While in the show, Prince Philip is depicted as being unhappy that he had to kneel to the Queen during her coronation, causing conflict in their marriage, the reality is thought to have been very different. 

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Matt Smith played the Prince in seasons one and two of the show

Previously speaking to Marie Claire, royal expert Christopher Wilson said: "I doubt Prince Philip ever spoke those words to his wife because he came from a royal household which had borrowed so much of it is ritual and protocol form the British Royal Family. He knew full well what was expected of him in public, and was prepared to go along with it."

MORE: The Queen's husband Prince Philip dies aged 99

Was a confrontation between Philip and Elizabeth captured on camera?

In the show, Prince Philip and Her Majesty have a raging argument on their Australian tour in which she threw shoes and a tennis racket at him. While this seems a million miles away from the composed couple - it is actually true. The press gave the film reel to the royal press secretary, and the Queen later met them, saying: "I'm sorry for that little interlude, but, as you know, it happens in every marriage. Now, what would you like me to do?" 

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The show depicts a fictionalised version of the royal pair and their married life

Did Prince Philip have a relationship with ballerina Galina Ulanova?

In The Crown, Elizabeth finds herself worried after finding a photograph of ballerina Galina Ulanova among Philip's personal things. While in real life there was no evidence that the Prince was ever in a relationship with the Russian dancer, it was rumoured that he was linked to other women over the years including the Duchess of Abercorn, who told royal author Gyles Brandreth: "It’s complicated and at the same time it’s quite simple. He needs a playmate and someone to share his intellectual pursuits." 


Galina Ulanova was a celebrated Russian ballerina 

These rumours also led the palace to release a very rare statement commenting on reports of Philip's extramarital affairs back in 1957, saying: "It is quite untrue that there is any rift between the queen and the Duke." 

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The palace denied there was a rift 

Was Philip the first to visit the Aberfan disaster?

Prince Philip was indeed the first royal to visit the site of the terrible Aberfan disaster of 1966 alongside Lord Snowdon, who also visited the town in Wales after a mining waste landslide destroyed a school, killing 116 children and 28 adults. Like in the show, the Queen visited several days later. 

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Tobias Menzies took over the role on the show for seasons three and four

Speaking about the tragedy, Lord Snowdon told WalesOnline back in 2006: "When I heard the news of the disaster on the wireless I felt I should be there because I was Welsh and thought the Welsh should stick together. So I just got on a train and went straight down." He also told Margaret that it was the "most terrible thing" he'd ever seen.  

Was Prince Philip's mother really a nun?

Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, had a remarkable life rife with tragedy, including being exiled from Greece, being placed in a sanatorium and diagnosed with schizophrenia and losing her daughter and two grandchildren in a plane crash. Much like in the season three episode Bubbikins, Alice really did move into Buckingham Palace after Greece was no longer considered safe to her. 

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Prince Philip with his mother, Princess Alice

Speaking about her life, The Crown's creator Peter Morgan said: "We know that she was a nun, that she set up her own religious order, and either she sold her own precious, as it were, jewellery and royal mementoes, to fund this convent in Athens. Then she came to stay at Buckingham Palace." 

Was Prince Philip obsessed with the moon landing? 

In The Crown, Philip becomes fixated by the moon landing, which serves as a metaphor for his own feelings of not feeling like he had achieved his full potential. However, royal expert Sally Bedell Smith told NBC News that she was doubtful that Philip ever went through a midlife crisis. 

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The Prince's interest in the moon landing was fictional 

She explained: "I believe it is complete invention. I don't think he would've known a midlife crisis if it slapped him in the face. He has always been secure and confident, and he has always understood what his role was vis-à-vis the Queen."

So although the three astronauts on Apollo 11 really did visit the Queen in Buckingham Palace, the scene where Philip hopes to question them about their journey only to receive disappointing answers was almost certainly a fabrication for the show. 

Were Prince Philip and Diana friendly? 

In season three, Philip and Diana have a friendly relationship, with him taking her stag hunting and very much approving of her as a suitor for his eldest son. Although in reality it is unknown whether the events in the show did take place, the royal was thought to have a good relationship with Diana due to a letter he wrote her after Charles' extramarital affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. 

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Philip and Diana are thought to have gotten along 

He wrote: "Charles was silly to risk everything with Camilla for a man in his position. We never dreamed he might feel like leaving you for her. I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind leaving you for Camilla. Such a prospect never even entered our heads." 

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