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Queen Elizabeth’s 73-year marriage to Prince Philip was well known around the world, but there was another special man in the life of the reigning monarch.
In Season 3 of Netflix’s “The Crown,” audiences were introduced to Porchey, or Lord Porchester, the Sovereign’s longtime racing manager and one of his dearest friends. Their enduring bond is explored in a book, written by former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown before the Platinum Jubilee, titled “The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor – the Truth and the Turmoil.”
The bombshell book explores “the scandals, romances, power plays and betrayals” that have rocked Britain’s royal family over the past 20 years. It features new revelations based on Brown’s access to palace insiders.
The bestselling author previously wrote a biography about the Princess of Wales titled ‘The Diana Chronicles’, which was published in 2007.
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In an excerpt obtained by Fox News Digital, Brown described how the Earl of Carnarvon, born Henry George Reginald Molyneux Herbert, was one of the Queen’s closest confidants throughout her decades-long reign.
“The Queen has shared the greatest passion of her life with someone else,” Brown wrote. “Despite Philip’s love of equestrian sports, he did not share his wife’s obsession with the horses themselves. Bloodstock is the subject that brings the queen most alive, and it was the undisputed domain of his closest male friend, Henry George Reginald Molyneux Herbert, seventh Earl of Carnarvon.”
The aristocrat, who had an estimated fortune of $100 million, was the Queen’s racing director for more than 30 years. He was the son of the sixth Earl and his American wife, Catherine Wendell of New York. Known to his friends as “Porchey”, he studied at Eton and excelled in boxing. He also served in the Royal Horse Guards during the Second World War. He quickly developed a passion for horse racing by watching his father.
Porchey could have been an ideal suitor for the princess at the time. Brown wrote that he “was one of those low-key aristocrats much richer than you might think”.
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The Earl’s family seat is Highclere Castle, which is now known as the setting of “Downton Abbey”. In 1988, he opened the castle to the public after learning from a family butler that around 300 Egyptian antiquities, purchased by his grandfather, were hidden and lay untouched in unused rooms for over 70 years.
Porchey’s grandfather, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon, was sponsored by archaeologist Howard Carter in the search for King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt. He died of blood poisoning after a mosquito bite in 1923, just four months after the tomb entrance was discovered.
Porchey’s life changed forever when he was just a teenager. He was invited by George VI to squire his young daughter, Princess Elizabeth, to race meetings. They quickly bonded over their mutual love of horses and were known as dance partners. He went to join the royal singing group at Buckingham Palace after the war.
“Porchey, as he was known by an earlier title of Lord Porchester, was the Queen’s race manager from 1969 until the end of her life,” Brown wrote. “No one but the family enjoyed the same kind of intimacy with the Queen. He was one of the few people to have Her Majesty’s mobile phone number and called her almost every day with the hot horse news, often holding the phone to bloodstock sales where he bids on her behalf so she can hear the action.”
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“He was her companion at almost every race, her consigliere on private visits to Kentucky stud farms, her partner in her obsession with breeding, condition and form,” she shared. “Their bond ran much deeper than race director and monarch. They were partners in the pursuit that gave the devoted queen unfettered pleasure.”
Brown noted that for years there was speculation that Porchey and Elizabeth were much more than friends. It’s a rumor that was also fueled by the hit Netflix series decades later. However, Porchey himself revealed, “Her Majesty is my best friend forever.” Over the years, royal experts have also insisted their relationship was platonic and nothing more.
“The Queen’s affinity with Porchey ran so deep that there were rumors it might have been something more,” Brown wrote. “Once upon a time London gossip liked to talk of a strong resemblance between Prince Andrew’s crudely handsome mug and Carnarvon’s, but I see neither resemblance nor probability.”
“Porchey looked more like a polished Alfred Molina in a fedora, and was genuinely furious when romantic rumors started circulating,” Brown explained. “He was the Queen’s devotee riderready to defend her to the bitter end and, no doubt, a source of strength when Philip’s restless frustrations left her exposed.”
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In 1956, Porchey followed in his father’s footsteps and married an American – Jean Margaret Wallop from Wyoming. In 1969, he took charge of the queen’s equestrian affairs before inheriting the title of earl. He also ran his family stud at Highclere, when he took over in 1978.
Porchey and the Queen’s friendship spanned six decades. Their “animated discussions” about horses were well known in the palace. They remained close until his death in 2001 at age 77 from a heart attack. While the Queen rarely attends funerals outside the family, she attended hers, as well as those of her wife when she died in 2019. Now Porchey’s son, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon , and his wife live at Highclere Castle.
The Queen’s beloved husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, died in 2021 aged 99.
This year, Elizabeth celebrates 70 years on the throne. She is expected to appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Trooping the Color parade on June 2 and greet the public alongside senior members of her family.
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Buckingham Palace has said the Queen’s attendance at Platinum Jubilee weekend events is unlikely to be confirmed until “on the day”.
Despite mobility issues, the Queen made surprise appearances during the Platinum Jubilee season. She recently made her first public appearance in weeks when she attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show, where she watched her beloved equines perform. She was also the guest of honor at a horse show near Windsor, where Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise and Helen Mirren were guests.
Shortly after, Elizabeth made an appearance at a London station to see a newly completed tube line named in her honor.
Buckingham Palace called the visit a “happy development”, noting that “organizers have been advised of the possibility that she may attend”.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.