Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband (or “consort,” if you will) has a long history of making impolite—and often racist—gaffes. And now a new, less than flattering story has come out regarding his thoughts on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

According to The Sunday Times, when Philip realized that the couple was getting serious, he reportedly discouraged his grandson from marrying Meghan, saying, “One steps out with actresses, one doesn’t marry them.” It’s kind of a solid line, if a very nasty one. But of course, it didn’t matter; Harry and Meghan got engaged in November 2017 and were married just over a year ago.

But the Harry-Meghan union isn’t the first instance of a member of the royal family having a controversial relationship with an American-born actress. In the early 1980s, Prince Philip’s son Andrew, the Duke of York, had an intense affair with Koo Stark, a young actress. The Queen reportedly took a shine to Koo, but the relationship came to an end when the press got ahold of a nude shower scene from an erotic film that she had shot early in her career. Despite their relationship’s end (and Andrew’s subsequent marriage and divorce to Sarah Ferguson, aka Fergie, who has feuded with Prince Philip for years), they stayed in touch; Andrew is even the godfather to Koo’s daughter.

Koo Stark, Prince Andrew's girlfriend in the 1980s.

Graham Morris

Back in 2016, Koo wrote an open letter to Meghan Markle, published in the Daily Mail, designed to warn her about the pressures of dating a royal.

“[Meghan will] have to think very carefully about how she presents herself in public,” she wrote. “What she does, what she wears, how she behaves and what she’s seen doing with whom. Her behavior to a certain extent now reflects upon Prince Harry.”
“It’s hard to explain,” she continued. “A bit like the job of an ambassador, or a celebrity associated with an international luxury brand. It is crucial she does not offend anyone.”

And Koo included a warning, saying that the press would be relentless and that the royal family and their staff would not really be of service. “Of course, the Palace won’t step in to help her,” she wrote. “I’d advise her to ask for their advice and counsel—after all, they are experts in their field. But she can’t expect any real professional help from them until the day she marries Harry, if that ever comes.”

And it did! Apparently one can marry actresses.