During his lifetime, Lord Porchester (aka ‘Porchie’ or ‘Porchey’) was the subject of speculative gossip about his relationship with Queen Elizabeth II – and without suggesting that the monarch ever actually cheated on her husband, The Crown presents their longstanding friendship as a focus of conflict in the royal marriage.
Episode nine of The Crown season two is probably one of the drama’s most dramatic, with the Queen and Philip’s marriage nearing breaking point and the Prince fretting about her closeness to fellow horse enthusiast Porchie.
And Porchie is back again in season three, with John Hollingworth taking over from original actor Joseph Kloska.
So what’s the real story of their relationship? And were they more than just friends?
Who was Lord ‘Porchie’ Porchester?
Henry George Reginald Molyneux Herbert was born on 19th January 1924 to the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, Henry George Alfred Marius Victor Francis Herbert (what a name!) and his first wife.
His grandfather, also named George Herbert, was the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who famously discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun with Howard Carter, and whose ancestral home, Highclere Castle, provides the setting for Downton Abbey.
After his parents divorced when he was just 13 years old, the young Baron Porchester lived with his mother in London and attended Eton. He became a member of the Royal Horse Guards during the war and served in North Africa.
‘Porchie’, as he was known to close friends, was an equestrian enthusiast from an early age, and was breeding horses from the age of 19. He was a childhood friend of Elizabeth II, and the pair forged a firm bond through their shared love of horses and horse racing.
The Queen and Porchie (right) watching the races (Getty)
Porchie went on to become the Queen’s racing manager in 1969, and was known as one of the few people who could contact Her Majesty directly to speak about her beloved horses.
He was also a keen statesman and local politician, who became the 7th Earl of Carnarvon following the death of his father in 1987.
Real-life history behind The Crown season 3
If you’re curious about the stories and events that inspired Netflix’s The Crown, we’ve got all the big questions covered with these in-depth features…
Did Lord Porchester have a romantic affair with Queen Elizabeth II?
There were many rumours about the nature of the pair’s relationship, but the royals have completely ignored any gossip that suggested that the Queen and Lord Porchester were anything more than firm friends.
For Elizabeth there was only ever Philip, says Porchie in The Crown – and that’s the line from the Royal House too.
We also don’t know whether Philip ever did get jealous of Porchie; The Crown creator Peter Morgan has had to use a bit of dramatic licence to imagine what went on behind closed doors.
Who did Lord Porchester actually marry?
Just as The Crown suggests, Porchester became engaged to an Anglo-American woman, Jean Margaret Wallop, whom he married on 7th January 1956.
The pair went on to have three children, including the current Earl of Carnarvon, George Reginald Oliver Molyneux Herbert, who resides at Highclere Castle. The Queen was even present for his Christening…
Did Porchie and the Queen travel to France and America together?
Yes! In May 1969, the Queen and Porchie took a four-day fact-finding trip to France and America to investigate various stables and studs.
That same year, she appointed him as her racing manager, a position he held until his death in 2001.
Is Lord Porchester still alive?
Sadly not. The Queen’s dear friend died suddenly on 11th September 2001. His son-in-law, John Warren, succeeded him as her racing manager.