Prince Philip's closest confidante pays her respects

Prince Philip’s closest confidante pays her respects: Duke of Edinburgh’s carriage-driving companion Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, is elegant in grey at memorial service

  • Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, 68, was one of Prince Philip’s closest confidantes
  • The pair shared a love of carriage-driving and Penny was the only non-family member at his funeral 
  • Today, the duke’s longtime friend looked demure as she arrived in a grey suite with matching hat  

One of Prince Philip’s closest confidantes was among the early arrivals at his service of thanksgiving today.

Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, 68, looked demure in head-to-toe grey as she arrived at Westminster Abbey for today’s service. 

Also known as Lady Romsey and Lady Brabourne, Penny was a regular visitor at Wood Farm, the cottage on the edge of the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk where the Prince spent much of his time after retiring from public life in August 2017.

She was the only non-family member invited to his intimate 30-person funeral last year, reflecting just what an important role she held within the Duke of Edinburgh’s life. 

The pair were firm friends for decades and shared a love for the exhilarating equestrian sport of carriage-driving.

Indeed, the Countess enjoyed such a close bond with the Queen and Philip that Palace staff reportedly nicknamed her ‘and also’, because no guest list was considered complete without her. 

Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, 68, looked demure as she arrived at Westminster Abbey for today’s service

Prince Philip’s long-time friend, who is also known as Lady Romsey and Lady Brabourne took her seat, dressed in a sober grey ensemble with matching hat 

Penelope picked a stylish grey ensemble to pay one last homage to her longtime friend today. 

She wore a grey midi skirt with a matching fitted coat tied at the waist with a dainty biw, which she paired for a pair of grey heel and matching leather gloves. 

With an impeccable attention to detail, she was  also seen clutching a small leather bag in her hand. 

Her Jackie O-inspired hat laid perfectly on top if her bouncy blonde bob. with her recognisable wild fringe poking out.

The countess was seen in deep conversation with her neighbour in the Abbey as the assembly patiently waited for the service to start 

The elegant Countess donned fine jewellery, with dimaond stud earring with a violet gem  matching a brooch pinned on the lapel of her jacket. 

She kept her makeup tasteful with just a dash of mascara and a kight pink lipstick adding a pop of colour to her getup.  

Formerly Penelope Meredith Eastwood, ‘Penny’ Knatchbull, previously known as Lady Romsey and later Lady Brabourne, is the daughter of a retired army major. 

Penny’s father left school at 15 and became a butcher, like his father and grand­father before him. He founded the Angus ­Steakhouse chain of restaurants which he sold for several millions, giving Penny a privileged childhood. She grew up and was educated in Switzerland before attending the London School of Economics.

She first met the Duke – who is 30 years her senior – at a polo match when she was 20 and in a relationship with Lord Romsey, Earl Mountbatten’s grandson Norton Knatchbull. 

Norton is the grandson of Lord Mountbatten – who was famously close to his nephew Prince Philip. Philip was Norton’s godson, while Norton is the godfather of Prince William. 

Penny’s father, Reg Eastwood, had sold his steakhouse chain to the Golden Egg company and was living with his wife in Majorca when his daughter married Norton.

Duke of Edinburgh took it upon himself in 1994 to teach Penny carriage driving and the pair (pictured together) travelled the country together 

The ­wedding had been delayed for eight weeks because five months earlier, on August 25, IRA bombers blew up a small boat in the sea off ­Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, where Lord ­Mountbatten had a holiday home.

It killed Mountbatten, Norton’s 14-year-old younger brother Nicholas (after whom he was to name his own son), his paternal grandmother the Dowager Lady Brabourne and Paul Maxwell, a 15-year-old local.   

Mountbatten’s murder meant that Broadlands became the newlyweds’ first and only home. Brought up in his ­parents’ comfortable 18th century country house in Kent, Norton dreaded it. He never wanted the burden of Broadlands and knew he could hardly live up to his ­illustrious grandfather as the local ‘lord of the manor’.

A family friend previously revealed: ‘On the other hand, Penny was always comfortable there because she knew it was their duty.’

But Norton fell out with the locals when, in the Eighties, he tried to get planning permission for Tesco to build a superstore on the estate. 

Feelings ran so high that opponents of the development carried a ­burning effigy of their High Steward through the streets of Romsey. The supermarket was never built. 

Meanwhile, the family’s original closeness to those in The Firm came through Norton’s friendship with Prince Charles. This went back to when they were schoolboys together at Gordonstoun and Norton, a year older, was asked to show Charles the ropes. 

In 1981, Penny and Norton welcomed their first child Nicholas Louis Charles Norton Knatchbull and a daughter Lady Alexandra a year later. In 1986, Penny gave birth to another daughter, who had kidney cancer and died aged five in 1991.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s carriage-driving companion – one of his closest confidantes – Countess Mountbatten of Burma (pictured together in 1975) 

She first met the Duke – who is 30 years her senior – at a polo match when she was 20 and in a relationship with Lord Romsey, Earl Mountbatten’s grandson Norton Knatchbull (pictured the trio together in 2009)

Just like his father and Charles, Nicholas was a year older than Prince William and was given the responsibility of showing him the ropes at Eton. In 2010, Norton moved to the Bahamas to embark on a new life with Lady Nuttall, 60. However, their affair fizzled out and he returned in 2014 to Broadlands estate in Hampshire.

Royal expert Ingrid Seward previously said Prince Philip supported Penny when Norton left her. 

One of her oldest family friends previously revealed: ‘I often wonder how their mother, Penny, copes with all the tragedy she has suffered. 

‘But she’s a strong ­character – much stronger than Norton. I think Penny gets it from her father. He was a man who always seemed to know where he was going.’ 

She has always been close to the royal family, as one friend who has known her since those early days previously recalled: ‘She was one of the most natural young women I have ever met, outgoing but not brash or flirty.’ 

Source: Read Full Article