Just how tense were things between the Queen’s husband and a Soviet spy?
The opening episode of the third season of Netflix royal drama The Crown sees The Queen faced with rumours of a KGB spy in the upper circles of British establishment, and even causing her to suspect new socialist Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins).
However, it is soon revealed that the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Sir Anthony Blunt, is the real culprit and is the Soviet spy in question.
Despite being discovered, it is decided to keep his treachery a secret so as to save face and humiliation for the Royals and intelligence services, becoming free from prosecution and keeping his position, to The Queen’s chagrin.
However, one scene sees Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) give Blunt a piece of his mind and threatens to see him punished, but Blunt retaliates by threatening Philip with exposure of his links to the Profumo scandal.
This scandal and Philip’s suspected links to it were dramatised in the second season of The Crown.
But did Anthony Blunt really threaten Philip in this way?
The Crown season 3: Did Anthony Blunt really threaten Prince Philip?
Despite the scene showing Anthony Blunt suggesting he would out Philip’s links to the Profumo Affair scandal that were previously dramatised in The Crown, there is no evidence that the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures delivered such a threat to the Duke of Edinburgh in real life.
In fact, the links between the Prince and the scandal are tenuous at best and has already been accused of being one of the most heavily fictionalised elements in the series by Marie Claire.
In real life, Anthony Blunt was even closer to the family than depicted, being a cousin of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and being one of the individuals who retrieved the documents on Edward, the Duke of Windsor’s links to Nazi high command, as depicted in the second season episode Vergangenheit.
In exchange for his full cooperation when his part of the spy ring known as The Cambridge Five was exposed, Blunt was granted full anonymity and immunity from prosecution in 1964. The Queen was also informed of his confession.
His escape from punishment was later rescinded, however, when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher exposed his role as a Communist spy in the House of Commons in 1979, which ultimately saw the Queen strip Blunt of his knighthood.
Afterwards, he was faced with a wave of anger and homophobic abuse in the press.
Blunt lived out the rest of his days in deep private, but appeared on live television in tears over his behaviour in a television interview.
He died at the age of 75 in 1983.
It remains to be seen if The Crown will continue to focus on the story in the fourth season.
The Crown season 3 is out now on Netflix.
Are you a fan of The Crown? Let us know in the comments below.