Followers of the Netflix tv sequence The Crown can keep in mind Queen Elizabeth II’s anxious makes an attempt to seek out out if her husband, Prince Philippe, was certainly the “mysterious visitor” photographed at a extra compromising social gathering.

If this was a fictional topic centered on the British Royal Household, the political scandal involving a politician, a socialite, a naive high mannequin and a Soviet spy was as actual as may very well be.

Pool social gathering

On the weekend of 8 and 9 July 1961, two unrelated social occasions offered a “level of contact”: a swimming pool on the Cliveden property in Buckinghamshire. The primary introduced collectively highly effective individuals who dominated the British political scene: William Waldorf Astor II, an influential British businessman and member of the Conservative Social gathering, organized a celebration in honor of Ayub Khan, President of Pakistan, who took energy in 1958. , writes the portal

Visitors on the different occasion, hosted by Viscount Astor, had been much less outstanding, however simply as intriguing: particularly osteopath Stephen Ward and dancer and high mannequin Christine Keeler, amongst others. That night time, the events came about by the pool.

Distinguished visitors included a pair who will quickly be embroiled in a marital and political scandal: British Battle Secretary John Profumo and his well-known spouse, actress Valerie Hobson.

When the couple appeared by the pool, Christine Keeler swam bare, pretending to overlook her swimsuit. “A really fairly, very candy lady,” John Profumo will describe the younger showgirl just a few years later.

In the course of the social gathering, 19-year-old Christine Keeler was launched to John Profumo as she tried to cowl herself with a towel. Profumo fell in love with Keeler, however didn’t know that she was being carefully adopted by MI5…


I used to be solely seventeen years outdated and had a lightweight coronary heart within the spring of 1959 after I arrived in London. Unbeknownst to me, I entered the world of the Chilly Battle and spies, “Keeler wrote in his autobiography,” Secrets and techniques and Lies, “first revealed in 2002.

Upon her arrival in London, Keeler started working as a dancer on the Cabaret Membership, a spot frequented by London society’s “night time birds”, for almost £ 9 (the equal of about $ 200 in 2020) per week.

Osteopath and artist Stephen Ward, a daily on the membership, seduced Christine and persuaded her to maneuver into his residence. Keeler moved in with Ward, however all the time denied having an affair with the physician. “He has been my mentor (…) since I got here to London as a teen. Lm beloved, however we had been by no means beloved “, he later wrote about their relationship.

Keeler’s mentor Stephen Ward was an intriguing determine. His medical and inventive achievements enabled him to make many sturdy pals among the many most influential personalities in Britain, which ensured him huge social success within the highest spheres of London society.

Nonetheless, because it turned out, Ward was additionally open to the thought of ​​making pals on the opposite aspect of the Iron Curtain. Specifically, Ward met with Evggheni Ivanov, a Russian who was a naval attaché on the Soviet embassy in London. Ivanov was the undercover intelligence officer of the GRU, the Soviet intelligence service.

Within the Nineteen Sixties, the Chilly Battle was in full swing. Britain had already been shaken by high-profile espionage scandals involving Soviet spies, the Cuban missile disaster wherein the 2 blocs had been on the point of army battle. On this context of heightened tensions, MI5 – the British counterintelligence company – focused Ivanov. They went to Ward to ask for a favor: to make use of Keeler as a “entice” for Ivanov.

“I grew to become a pawn within the Chilly Battle,” Keeler wrote. Sadly for MI5, John Profumo appeared on the horizon and ruined the operation…


Keeler stated she was manipulated into having intercourse with Evgeni Ivanov, however that she hadn’t thought of it on the time. “I used to be not ashamed to sleep with John Profumo in Harold Macmillan’s workplace, Secretary of State, or to be manipulated into having intercourse with a spy in Moscow in the identical week,” Keeler stated, admitting that she beloved males. and intercourse in youth.

What may need appeared like a trivial like to the younger dancer in a threesome led to one of many greatest political riots within the historical past of the Chilly Battle in Britain: Secretary of State for Battle John Profumo was compromised and will not have entry to state secrets and techniques.

The entire story might have been buried if a 12 months later Keeler had not been concerned in an incident: a settlement between two different boyfriends put the press within the wake of his showgirl previous and revealed her relationship with Profumo. and Ivanov. John Profumo denied any sexual activity with Christine Keeler. Nonetheless, the case quickly got here to mild, and Profumo admitted to mendacity, resigning as Secretary of State for Battle and resigning in June 1963. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan later resigned in November 1963 on grounds of well being, and the Conservative Social gathering misplaced the 1964 nationwide election.

Nonetheless, the Secretary of Battle and the Conservatives weren’t the one victims of the “Profumo affair”, because it was referred to as. Stephen Ward was accused of pimping, however dedicated suicide earlier than sentencing.

Stephen Ward befriended outstanding and highly effective figures within the British authorities, aristocrats and even members of the royal household. A lot of them had been drawn into compromising conditions. He all the time knew what he was searching for, and if he was nervous, he would kill to guard himself. His espionage actions embrace Moscow’s daring transfer to put one in every of their males on the coronary heart of the British Secret Service throughout probably the most tense interval of the Chilly Battle, when paranoia about bombs – particularly nuclear missiles – was at its peak. , who might use them? The place? And when? ”Keeler wrote in his e book about understanding Ward’s function within the spy recreation of the time.

Evgheni Ivanov was additionally punished by his Soviet superiors. He was recalled to Moscow in December 1962 or January 1963, just a few months earlier than the Profumo scandal. Apparently, he didn’t account for his relationship with Keeler to his superiors till the scandal. He was despatched to function within the Black Sea Fleet.

In January 1994, the Soviet spy was discovered useless in his house in Moscow on the age of 68. In line with his editor John Blake, Ivanov was “a little bit unhappy that his profession did not go the best way he wished.”

As for Christine Keeler, she was stigmatized due to the media protection of the case, however she defended her function all through her life: “I’ve all the time denied being a prostitute. (…) It’s possible you’ll assume you already know my life since you skilled it or since you noticed the scandal, the film with me just a few years in the past, within the cinema or when it’s rebroadcast on TV. I am sorry, however this movie was only a image of what actually occurred, it simply evokes floor occasions. ”