The death of Leonora: the tragedy that united Diana with the Windsors


The premiere of the last season of The Crown has brought to the present some of the most controversial episodes in the life of the British Royal Family. A season that comes barely two months after the death of Queen Elizabeth and at the beginning of the new era of Carlos III, who has no choice but to observe with resignation how some of the most complicated stages of his life come back from the past and put the stability of his reign in jeopardy. After more than half a century in the shadow of his mother, the new king’s turn has come and he does it together with the woman he has always loved, who will also be crowned queen at the express wish of the previous one. monarch. A reality that three decades ago seemed unthinkable, in the midst of the media maelstrom that broke out between Charles and Diana and that now fiction has been resurrected.

Lady Penny in a file image. /Gtres

However, the war of the previous Wale’s princess with ‘La Firma’ is not the only dramatic episode that reviews this season, one of the ones that has generated the most expectation and that, curious as it may be, makes, in some way, the Queen Isabel move to a ‘background’ -if this is actually possible-.

One of the characters that stands out the most in this season is that of Lady Penny Knatchbull. This aristocrat becomes one of the people closest to the Duke of EdinburghIn fact, we were able to see her in April 2021 at her funeral in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, because over the years she has been one of the great supporters of Queen Elizabeth’s husband. A friendship that has been talked about a lot, as well as possible infidelities on the part of the Prince, which the monarch settled with that mythical phrase in which she assured that “she asked her husband for loyalty, not fidelity”, aware of all the sacrifices that the Duke of Edinburgh had to make to be by his side, such as not being able to give his children his last name, nor continue his military career.

Lady Penny with Queen Elizabeth in a file image. /Gtres

But beyond the relationship between Lady Penny and Prince Philip -who became inseparable companions in a sport as peculiar as driving horse carriages-, one of the most dramatic episodes that fiction addresses and that contributed in part to The friendship between the two was strengthened by the death of the aristocrat’s daughter: Leonora Knatchbull. The little girl was the youngest daughter of Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, and Norton Knatchbull, 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The couple had married in 1979, with the then Prince of Wales as godfather, since they had a strong link with the Royal Family, precisely through the Duke of Edinburgh. Norton Knatchbull was the grandson of Lord MountbattenPrince Philip’s uncle, who died in an IRA attack.

Lady Penny with her daughter Leonora. /Gtres

Given the family ties, Lady Penny, her husband and their children spent a lot of time with the Royal Family, in fact, on several occasions they could be seen at Trooping the Colour, the traditional celebration of the sovereign’s birthday in June. or sharing summer vacations. To this we must add that the then Princes of Wales, Charles and Diana, were the Leonora’s godparents.

It was precisely during a vacation in Majorca in 1990 when little Leonora, who was four years old at the time, began to feel unwell. Upon her return to the UK she was diagnosed with a kidney tumor. Despite the fact that she underwent several medical treatments and that she improved by seasons, nothing could be done for the little girl, who died just a year later, in October 1991. A dramatic episode that greatly affected her family .

Leonora was buried on her family’s Broadlands estate, near the town of Romsey. A place where Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh spent part of their honeymoon. In 1994, her parents created the Leonora Children’s Cancer Fund in memory of the little girl who, as expected, had the full support of the Crown.


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