Christine Keeler, the former model at the heart of the Profumo affair that rocked British politics in the 1960s, dies aged 75
- Christine Keeler died at the age of 75 on Monday in hospital in Farnborough
- She had been ill for several months with an obstructive lung disease?
- Keeler enjoyed a secret romance with Cabinet minister John Profumo in 1961
- But scandal erupted when it emerged she had also slept with a Russian attaché
The former model at the heart of the Profumo affair Christine Keeler has died aged 75 after a long illness.
She was thrust into the spotlight after enjoying a secret romance with Cabinet minister John Profumo in 1961 at the height of the Cold War.
Scandal engulfed the Establishment after later it emerged that the then 19-year-old Keeler had also been sleeping with Eugene Ivanov, a Soviet naval attaché at the Russian Embassy in London.
It nearly toppled the Conservative government, resulting in the resignation of Profumo as well as a series of criminal trials.
Ms Keeler, who had been battling an obstructive lung disease for several months,?died on Monday night at the Princess Royal university hospital in Farnborough, Hampshire.
Her son Seymour Pratt, who now lives in Ireland with his family, said the Profumo affair had had a long-lasting effect on his mother's life.
Former showgirl and model Christine Keeler (pictured in 1963) has died at the age of 75?
Ms Keeler is pictured in 2013 outside her home in South London
Ms Keeler, who had been battling an obstructive lung disease for several months, died on Monday night at the Princess Royal university hospital in Farnborough, Hampshire?
He told the Guardian: 'There was a lot of good around Chris's rather tragic life, because there was a family around her that loved her.
'I think what happened to her back in the day was quite damaging.'
Keeler lived as a recluse under the name Sloane in the years following the scandal - breaking cover only a few times to talk about the affair.
She was briefly married twice - with both ending in divorce - and had two sons as well as a granddaughter.
Ms Keeler met Conservative minister Profumo - 27 years her senior - after leaving her home in Middlesex and working at Murray's Cabaret Club in Soho.
Dr Stephen Ward, a high-flying London osteopath and fixer who ‘procured women’ for leading members of the Establishment, introduced the young dancer to Profumo while at a party thrown by Lord and Lady Astor.
The scandal hit the headlines after seven shots were fired at Ward's house in a quiet Marylebone mews by a jilted boyfriend of Keeler a year later in December 1962.?
Ms Keeler, pictured, met Conservative minister Profumo - 27 years her senior - after leaving her home in Middlesex and working at Murray's Cabaret Club in Soho
Ms Keeler, pictured right, in a vehicle with her friend Mandy Rice-Davies, who was also implicated in the scandal surrounding the affair
Ms Keeler is pictured standing outside the cottage where she used to stay in the grounds of Cliveden
Keeler had an affair with married Conservative Minister John Profumo (pictured) and a Soviet diplomat. Her affairs sparked an investigation over fears she could be threatening national security. Profumo denied any improper conduct but it then transpired he lied?
It emerged the then 19-year-old Keeler had been sleeping with former Secretary of State for War John Profumo, then 48, and at the same time a handsome Russian spy Evgeny Ivanov.
But when the news broke, Profumo lied to the House of Commons about his affair. He was soon found out and Keeler sold her story to the News of The World for ￡23,000.
In June 1963, he quit in disgrace, amid allegations Keeler had been asked by Ivanov to discover from the War Minister when the West Germans might receive U.S. nuclear missiles to be stationed on their soil.
Profumo had been a rising star of the Tory Party, close to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, a favoured visitor at Buckingham Palace, a war hero and the dashing husband of actress Valerie Hobson, one of the great beauties of her day.?
Keeler is pictured with a friend Mandy Rice-Davies leaving the Old Bailey in London after the first day of Stephen Ward's trial?
Other members of the Establishment were also implicated in the fallout of the scandal. Lord Astor, pictured left, who hosted the party where Keeler and Profumo originally met, was accused of having an affair with Keeler's friend Mandy Rice-Davies
Ward, pictured, a high-flying London osteopath and fixer who ‘procured women’ for leading members of the Establishment, introduced the young dancer to Profumo while at a party thrown by Lord and Lady Astor
Mandy Rice-Davies, left, and Ms Keeler, right, are pictured together
TIMELINE: The Profumo affair
The Profumo affair had it all - sex, lies and espionage. It broke at the height of the Cold War, when spying was rife and the threat of war was imminent with the outbreak of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Here we look back at how the scandal unfolded:
April 1960: At the height of the Cold War, Christine Keeler, having left her home in Wraysbury, Berks, heads for London and begins working at Murray's Cabaret Club in Soho. It is there that she meets Dr Stephen Ward, a London osteopath. Within weeks she had moved into his Bayswater flat. She soon meets Mandy Rice-Davies at Murray's and the pair become party companions.
July 1961: Ward introduces 19-year-old Keeler to Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, while at a party thrown by Lord and Lady Astor at their stately home in Cliveden at Taplow, Bucks. Keeler and Profumo embark on an affair lasting only a few weeks. At the same time, she becomes involved in an affair with Commander Eugene Ivanov, a Soviet naval attaché at the Russian Embassy in London.
March 1963: After months of speculation among MPs, Profumo is forced to face the Commons, where he says: 'There was no impropriety whatever in my acquaintance with Miss Keeler and I have made the statement because of what was said yesterday in the House by three honourable members whose remarks were protected by privilege.'
June 1963: Ward is arrested in Watford and taken to Marylebone Police Station where he is charged with living off immoral earnings. His trial soon begins at the Old Bailey.
June 5, 1963: Profumo resigns his Cabinet post after admitting lying to the House of Commons about the nature of his relationship with Keeler.
August 1963: On the last day of his trial, Ward is found dead at his London home having taken an overdose of sleeping pills.
December 1963: Keeler is found guilty of perjury in a related trial and imprisoned for nine months.
1989: The Profumo affair is made into a film called Scandal, starring John Hurt, Ian McKellen and Joanne Whalley.?
But Ms Keeler, whose other lovers have included A-Team actor George Peppard, legendary womaniser Warren Beatty and Prisoner of Zenda star Douglas Fairbanks Jr, said in an interview years later that the Establishment was far more interested in painting it as a sex scandal and chose to ignore whispered claims of a widespread spying network.
She said: 'I know the truth and it is far more shocking than what the public has been fed by the British Establishment. Sex was a game - spying was a serious business.
'Far better that the Establishment be caught with its pants down than involved in stealing secrets. That was the thinking.'
The consequences for the Tory party were catastrophic and Macmillan's Cabinet was shaken by the revelations.
Ms Keeler's other lovers have included A-Team actor George Peppard, legendary womaniser Warren Beatty and Prisoner of Zenda star Douglas Fairbanks Jr
The former glamour girl is pictured dressed down in jeans and a jumper in March 1989?
Dr Stephen Ward is pictured leaving court in 1963 after he introduced Keeler to Profum
The Daily Mail front page from the day that Profumo quit the Cabinet?
Tales of organised orgies followed, including whipping parties at a house in Mayfair where, it was said, one of the guests became over-excited and died of a heart attack.
Lord Denning released the government's official report on September 25, 1963, and the Prime Minister stepped down due to ill-health not long after. The Tories were then voted out the following year.
In December 1962, the police were called to Ward's home when another of Christine's ex-lovers, -Johnny Edgecombe, fired shots at the lock while she and showgirl friend Mandy Rice-Davies cowered inside.
Ms Keeler was hounded by the media when the Profumo Affair began, she is pictured being photographed outside her home in Linhope Street, central London
From show girl to criminal: The former model admitted perjury after lying in Steven Ward's trial and was sent to prison for nine months
The police investigation led to Ward's arrest and charges for living off immoral earnings and the revelation of Christine's affair with Profumo.
Other members of the Establishment were also implicated in the fallout of the scandal.
Lord Astor, who hosted the party where Keeler and Profumo originally met, was accused of having an affair with Rice-Davies.
During a trial following the scandal, after being told the Viscount had denied the affair, she famously replied: 'He would, wouldn't he?'
For the rest of his life, Profumo stayed silent about the matter - even when 1989 film Scandal starring Ian McKellen was released, renewing public interest in the affair.
Revealed, Profumo's affair with glamorous Nazi spy: Minister who rocked the 60s Establishment had fallen for Hitler-loving model in 1930s
John Profumo had a long-running affair with a glamorous Nazi spy who may have later tried to blackmail him, according to security service files released today.
Long before the high-society sex scandal in the Swinging Sixties which now bears his name, Profumo met Gisela Winegard, a German model, at Oxford in 1930s and ‘got to know her well’, the previously top secret dossier reveals.
Diplomat’s son Profumo was then an undergraduate studying law at Brasenose College.
Gisela, 16 months older and known by her maiden name Klein, made several visits to this country between 1933 – the year Adolf Hitler made himself absolute ruler of Germany – and 1938.
‘On the first occasion, she went to Oxford, ostensibly to learn English, and professed to be anti-Nazi,’ the newly declassified documents say.
Gisela Windgard, pictured, made several visits to this country between 1933 – the year Adolf Hitler made himself absolute ruler of Germany – and 1938
Photographs of Gisela in the files portray her as a haughty, Teutonic beauty. Intelligence reports described her as ‘a young woman of striking appearance’ who was ‘known to have made friends with a number of well-known young men in this country’.
Whether or not she was working for German intelligence services when Profumo first met her is not clear.
But National Archive files show she was ordered to leave Britain in 1935 and 1936 for working as a model while on non-working visas, and was reported as being ‘on intimate terms with the German Military Attache in Paris’ in 1938. This led the Home Office to recommend she be barred from entering this country altogether.
She remained in Paris during the occupation of France. There, she was a German intelligence officer’s mistress, having a child with him, and also became close to a German general.
After the Allies liberated Paris in 1944, Gisela was imprisoned along with other German agents and collaborators.
Meanwhile Profumo, who was known as Jack, had been commissioned into the Army in 1939 as a second lieutenant. The following year, while still serving, he was elected Tory MP for Kettering in Northamptonshire at the age of 25 – making him the youngest MP at the time. He went on to serve with distinction in the Second World War.
The files show that he remained in touch with Gisela until at least 1950.
The Crown links Prince Philip to the Profumo Affair: Uproar as new series implicates Duke of Edinburgh in one of Britain's most damaging sex scandals
The new series of The Crown has provoked uproar by implicating Prince Philip in the Profumo Affair which scandalised Britain in the early 1960s.
In one fictitious scene, the Queen confronts her husband about the nature of his relationship with Stephen Ward – the high-society osteopath and fixer who ‘procured women’ for leading members of the Establishment.
Elizabeth – played by Claire Foy – is also shown conspiring to keep details of Philip’s involvement out of the public domain.
The drama’s decision to implicate Prince Philip in one of Britain’s most damaging sex scandals comes just days after the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Historians accused the programme – made by American entertainment giant Netflix – of ‘crossing a line’.
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