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Netflix has sparked fury after it emerged it could show scenes depicting Prince Philip pursuing an affair with close friend Penny Knatchbull in the new series of The Crown.

The hit show, which is one of the streaming giant’s most popular programmes, is set to return to screens on November 9 with concern from some royal observers about this season’s content.

The Sun reports that among the story lines in the coming episodes will be ‘intimate scenes’ between the late Duke of Edinburgh and the Countess Mountbatten of Burma, who was 30 years his junior.

It is thought the pair will be seen touching hands as Philip talks about his marriage, in a move that has been branded ‘cruel rubbish’ by the late Queen’s former press secretary.

Dickie Arbiter, who was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s spokesperson from 1988 to 2000, told the publication it was distasteful that such scenes would be played out only weeks after her funeral.

Prince Philip and Penny Knatchbull had a friendship lasting decades after they bonded over a love of carriage riding. Here they are pictured at the Windsor Horse Show in 2009

Prince Philip and Penny Knatchbull had a friendship lasting decades after they bonded over a love of carriage riding. Here they are pictured at the Windsor Horse Show in 2009

The new season of The Crown is set to show Philip pursuing an affair with Countess Mountbatten of Burma, it is being reported. Here the pair are pictured sitting in his car at the Royal Windsor Horse Show

The new season of The Crown is set to show Philip pursuing an affair with Countess Mountbatten of Burma, it is being reported. Here the pair are pictured sitting in his car at the Royal Windsor Horse Show

Coming just weeks after the nation laid Her Majesty to rest next to Prince Philip, this is very distasteful and, quite frankly, cruel rubbish,’ he said.

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‘The truth is that Penny was a long-time friend of the whole family. Netflix are not interested in people’s feelings.’

Majesty magazine editor Ingrid Seward added: ‘It’s in exceedingly bad taste.

‘This is fiction. There’s no way in a million years he’d discuss his marriage with anybody. The royals probably won’t watch it for their own sanity 

A Netflix source told MailOnline that reports about the content of next season are ‘pure speculation’.

Buckingham Palace has been contacted for comment. 

Prince Philip is being portrayed by veteran actor Sir Jonathan Pryce (pictured) in the new season of The Crown

Prince Philip is being portrayed by veteran actor Sir Jonathan Pryce (pictured) in the new season of The Crown

Penny Knatchbull is being portrayed by British actress Natascha McElhone in what is slated to be the penultimate season of the Netflix show

Penny Knatchbull is being portrayed by British actress Natascha McElhone in what is slated to be the penultimate season of the Netflix show

Referred to as the ‘second-most imporant woman’ in his life, Philip bonded with Penny, who is now 69, over their mutual love of carriage riding and had a friendship lasting decades.

Philip is said to have supported Penny when her five-year-old daughter Leonora died of kidney cancer.

Also known as Lady Romsey and Lady Brabourne, Penny was a regular visitor at Wood Farm, the cottage on the edge of the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk where the Prince spent much of his time after retiring from public life in August 2017.

She was the only non-family member invited to his intimate 30-person funeral last year, reflecting just what an important role she held within the Duke’s life.

Indeed, the Countess enjoyed such a close bond with the Queen and Philip that Palace staff reportedly nicknamed her ‘and also’, because no guest list was considered complete without her.

Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma was the only non-royal invited to Prince Philip's funeral. Here she is pictured at the Service of Thanksgiving for him in March this year

Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma was the only non-royal invited to Prince Philip’s funeral. Here she is pictured at the Service of Thanksgiving for him in March this year

The Duke of Edinburgh's carriage-driving companion - one of his closest confidantes - Countess Mountbatten of Burma (pictured together in 1975)

The Duke of Edinburgh’s carriage-driving companion – one of his closest confidantes – Countess Mountbatten of Burma (pictured together in 1975) 

She also attended the Queen’s funeral last month, another sign of her close ties to the Royal Family.

Penny is set to be portrayed by British actress Natascha McElhone in what will be the penultimate season of The Crown.

Many of her scenes will be opposite Sir Jonathan Pryce, who is stepping into the shoes of Tobias Menzies and Matt Smith to play Prince Philip.

The Sun reports that one episode of the upcoming season will see the Duke of Edinburgh teach Penny carriage-riding, while disclosing his marriage has its ‘problems’.

Joining the cast for the show’s fifth season is Imelda Staunton, who will be portraying Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, while Dominic West will play Prince Charles and Elizabeth Debicki will protray Diana, Princess of Wales.

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