Penelope Knatchbull Will Join Mourners at the Royal Funeral — Who Was Prince Philip's Close Friend?

Prince Philip's ceremonial royal funeral has one interesting guest on the list of family members: Penelope Knatchbull, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma. Learn about the Countess's relationship with the late Prince.

A week ago, Queen Elizabeth II's husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, passed away at 99 at Windsor Castle. Now, the royal family plans to lay him to rest in a ceremonial royal funeral set for Saturday, April 17, 2021. 

According to the official release posted on the British Royal Family's website, the funeral will be conducted by The Dean of Windsor while the Archbishop of Canterbury will pronounce the blessing.

Queen Elizabeth (Princess at time) and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, on the occasion of their engagement at Buckingham Palace in London in 1947 | Photo: Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth (Princess at time) and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, on the occasion of their engagement at Buckingham Palace in London in 1947 | Photo: Getty Images

Due to the pandemic restrictions, only 30 people will be allowed to attend the funeral service, including the late Prince Philip and the Queen's four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrews, and Prince Edward.

Also on the list of members of the royal family in attendance is the Countess Mountbatten of Burma, Penelope Knatchbull. Penelope, an unexpected guest, has reportedly been one of the closest friends of the Queen and Prince Philip for a long time.

Philip and the Queen reportedly bonded with the Countess in two different but equally sweet and heartwarming ways. 

The Countess became a member of the royal family in the '70s when she started a relationship with the 3rd Earl of Mountbatten, Norton Knatchbull. 

Norton first introduced Penelope to the Queen and Prince Philip in 1975, and they hit it off right away. A royal insider described her as a natural young woman who was delightfully outgoing without being brash.

Penelope Knatchbull, Lady Brabourne and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend day 3 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Home Park on May 12, 2007 | Photo: Getty Images

Penelope Knatchbull, Lady Brabourne and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend day 3 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Home Park on May 12, 2007 | Photo: Getty Images

Through Norton's close relationship with the major royal family members, Penelope's relationship with the Queen and Philip grew stronger. Prince Charles even served as best man when Penelope and Norton tied the knot in 1979.

The Earl and the Countess had three children but lost their youngest, Leonara, when she was just five years old due to liver cancer. During her grieving, Penelope became closer to the Queen and Prince Philip.

Philip and the Queen reportedly bonded with the Countess in two different but equally sweet and heartwarming ways. The Duke and Penelope enjoyed outdoor activities such as driving carriages while she and the monarch spent time together doing indoor activities. 

Her two living children, Nicholas and Alexandra, are now all grown up and doing great. In fact, she and the Earl became grandparents again when Alexandra and her husband, Thomas Hooper, welcomed their second child together.

The countess has since been present at many significant royal events hence why her presence at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral is most heartwarming.

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