As the Queen mourns her beloved husband, Penny Brabourne, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, is also in mourning.
The Countess was a regular visitor to Wood Farm, the cottage on the edge of the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk where the Prince spent much of his time following his retirement from public life in August 2017.
The two had been close friends for decades and shared a love for the exhilarating equestrian sport of horse-drawn carriage riding.
Penny Brabourne, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, pictured right, with husband Norton Knatchbull, left, was a close friend of Prince Philip
The couple, pictured, shared a love for the exhilarating equestrian sport of horse-drawn carriage riding
Indeed, the 67-year-old Countess had such a close bond with the Queen and Philip that palace staff reportedly dubbed her “and also”, as no guest list was considered complete without her.
The only daughter of butcher-turned-businessman Reginald Eastwood, she was propelled into the royal family thanks to her marriage to Norton Knatchbull, 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
The Earl was a close friend of Prince Charles – the couple attended Gordonstoun together and Charles was Norton’s best man when he married Penny in 1979.
The wedding was delayed for eight weeks because five months earlier IRA bombers blew up a small boat in the sea off Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, killing Norton’s grandfather Lord Mountbatten. Norton’s 14-year-old younger brother Nicholas, his paternal grandmother, Dowager Lady Brabourne, and a local boy who was with the family, also died in the terror attack.
Penny is said to have formed a close friendship with the Queen and Prince Philip after her daughter Leonora contracted liver cancer and died aged five in 1991.
Philip taught the Countess to ride a horse-drawn carriage in 1994 and she has become his regular sports companion. Royal insiders say his enthusiasm for carriage riding is one of the reasons he continued to take the reins until the late 1990s. He was pictured driving in the grounds of the castle from Windsor as recently as 2019.
The loss of her daughter by the Countess was not the only turmoil she endured. In 2010, Lord Brabourne abandoned her and started a new life with another woman in the Bahamas. The case failed, however, and in 2014 he returned to Broadlands, the home he shares with the Countess. Hampshire’s 60-bedroom Palladian Mansion is where the Queen and Philip spent part of their honeymoon.
Members of the royal family, the Queen in particular, were said to have been full of admiration for the way the Countess insisted that life in the historic estate should continue as usual after her husband’s affair.