QUEEN Elizabeth was reduced to tears by the Duke of Edinburgh’s "brutal" behaviour towards her when she refused to take his surname of Mountbatten, according to a new biography.
Sally Bedell Smith even suggests that the ten-year delay between the births of the Princess Royal and the Duke of York was the result of “Philip’s anger over the British monarch’s rejection of his family name”.
Her book, Elizabeth the Queen, to be published in January, details the Duke’s deep-rooted irritation over the monarch’s decision to accept the advice of the then prime minister, Winston Churchill, by keeping the family name Windsor.
The Duke had wanted the Royal family to be known as the House of Mountbatten when the Queen came to the throne in 1952, and complained to friends that: “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his children. I’m nothing but a bloody amoeba.”
Earl Mountbatten, the Duke’s uncle and mentor, believed the “delay” in the couple having any more children after the Princess Royal was a result of the Duke’s anger over the question of the family name.
Even in 1960, when the Queen was heavily pregnant with the Duke of York, she told premier Harold Macmillan that she needed to “revisit” the issue of the family name, which “had been irritating her husband since…1952”.
In an article for the current issue of Vanity Fair magazine, the author cites an entry in Macmillan’s diary, in which he wrote: “The Queen only wishes (properly enough) to do something to please her husband - with whom she is desperately in love.
“What upsets me … is the Prince’s almost brutal attitude to the Queen over all this.” He added: “I shall never forget what she said to me that Sunday night at Sandringham.”
Macmillan passed the problem on to his deputy, Rab Butler, and the lord chancellor Lord Kilmuir. Butler told Macmillan in a telegram that the Queen had “absolutely set her heart” on making a change for Philip’s sake.
Miss Bedell Smith writes: “By one account, Butler confided to a friend that Elizabeth had been ‘in tears’.”
A compromise was reached in which any descendants not entitled to the designation of “royal highness” would be called Mountbatten-Windsor.
In fact, the Princess Royal took matters into her own hands on her wedding day by signing the marriage register as Mountbatten-Windsor.