Calling occupants…Can you guess which leading royal was fascinated with interplanetary craft? He…

Whether it was removing the back of a watch to see quite how the mechanism worked or haranguing a visiting bishop about the sermon he’d just preached, Prince Philip was famed for his enquiring mind.

What isn’t generally known is that among the Duke’s multifarious interests was a fascination with the paranormal, in particular, UFOs.

This stretched as far back as the beginning of the Queen’s reign, when he became a regular subscriber to Flying Saucer Review.

Prince Philip looks up to the skies at King’s College, Newcastle in 1951. Is he expecting aliens?

Winston Churchill, was moved to write an excitable memo to the Secretary of State for Air, Lord Cherwell: ‘What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to?

Earth versus the Flying Saucers! Prince Philip was keen to get to the bottom of it all

Philip’s uncle, Earl Mountbatten, left, wrote to his eldest daughter Patricia that he was convinced UFO’s ‘come from another planet’. Philip listens intently

In the late 1940s and early 50s there was a spate of apparent UFO sightings mainly in the USA, that were widely reported in the press. 

The Air Ministry had ‘a UFO Desk’ to record reports of interplanetary craft. Even the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was moved to write an excitable memo to the Secretary of State for Air, Lord Cherwell: ‘What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth? Let me have a report at your convenience. WSC 28 July 1952.’ 

Churchill wasn’t the only member of the establishment concerned with it. Philip’s uncle, Earl Mountbatten, wrote to his eldest daughter Patricia that he was convinced UFO’s ‘ come from another planet’ and that they ‘were not ‘aeroplanes’ with silly little almost human pilots but are themselves the actual inhabitants: Martians, Venusians, Jupiterians or what have you.’ 

He even wrote a detailed report of an alleged sighting over his own Broadlands estate witnessed by a retired British Army Sergeant, Frederick Briggs, who was working as a bricklayer on the estate and who ‘says he saw a large craft that looked like a child’s top hovering over a field. He says a column came down from the centre of the craft, and there appeared to be a humanoid figure descending with the pillar.’ 

A swayed Mountbatten thought Briggs ‘did not give the impression of being the sort of man who would be subject to hallucinations, or would in any way invent such a story.’

The other influence on Philip’s extra-terrestrial quest was a member of his own household, Sir Peter Horsley, the Duke’s equerry from 1949-56. 

Horsley had been a Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Strike Command during the war, someone whose honesty and integrity should have been in no doubt. 

Having said that he was a man who was subject to the odd paranormal encounter. After his Mosquito aircraft was shot down during a mission, the recovering Horsley believed he had received messages from several of his fellow officers who were, in fact, all dead.

The equerry clearly won Philip over to his point of view. The Duke asked him to follow up any credible reports of sightings and invited witnesses to Buckingham Palace to personally give their accounts. 

He even wrote to Timothy Good, a renowned Ufologist, pointing out ‘there are many reasons to believe that they exist.’

It is unclear just how convinced the prince was about UFOs or whether it was another example of his ever-enquiring mind, keeping its options open.

Certainly Sir Peter Horsley drew the line at telling his boss about his meeting with what he claimed was a real-life alien at a flat in London. 

The extraterrestrial chap called himself ‘Mr Janus’ and said he could read minds. Horsley recalled in his memoirs “He didn’t say he was a visitor from another planet – but I had that impression.

‘I believe he was here to observe us. I never saw him again.’

During their meeting Mr Janus said he wanted to meet Prince Philip – who he described as ‘a man of great vision, a person of world renown, and a leader in the realm of wildlife and the environment.

Is this what they look like? A ‘UFO sighting’ in Winona, Missouri in 1957

There was a supposed sighting at Broadlands, the family home of Mountbatten

Prince Philip watching equerry Sir Peter Horsley trying to load a camera

Prince Philip was a subscriber to Flying Saucer Review

He is a man who believes strongly in the proper relationship between man and nature which will prove of great importance in future galactic harmony.’ 

(From the sounds of it, even the most cynical reader would have to admit that, if aliens do exist, they are pretty well clued up about the British royal family.)

Not all the establishment was as willing to consider Horsley’s point of view as Prince Philip. 

When his memoirs were published in 1997, a senior official at the Ministry of Defence commented, ‘How unfortunate that the public will learn that the man who had his finger on the button of Strike Command was seeing little green men.’

The late Queen was also made aware that there could be something out there. In March 2009 a UFO researcher in Victoria, Australia, sent a letter to Buckingham Palace addressed directly to ‘Your Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’.

The message was equally direct: ‘I am writing to you to inform you Madam that the British Government continues to refuse to reveal the truth behind their files and reports of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). 

The writer informed the Queen that there was more to UFOs than ‘weather balloons, airplanes, helicopters, lights, or natural phenomena’ and said they had tried to contact various UK government departments, from the RAF, MoD and even MI5, to persuade them of the ‘seriousness of this UFO security issue’. 

It continued: “As I am writing this letter to you Your Majesty, I contemplate whether or not you will see reason and if you will choose to act Madam?”

The letter ended by urging ‘as a UFO researcher, I must highly recommend you act now Your Majesty. 

‘You are capable of deciding your own destiny. The question is Your Majesty, which path will you choose?

Another possible UFO sighting, this time in San Francisco in 1956

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip view the Apollo 14 module and Space Shuttle model during tour of the Rockwell International space facility in 1983

Prince Philip  meets a man in a space suit during a visit to the Lyndon B Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas,  1966

‘I await your immediate action and response to this serious UFO issue. “I have the honour to be, Madam, Your Majesty’s humble and obedient servant.’

The Queen’s Private Secretary replied on her behalf: ‘Although this is not a matter in which Her Majesty would intervene, the letter has been passed to the Secretary of State for Defence, so that this approach to the Queen may be known and consideration given to the points raised in the letter.’

The MoD wrote to the researcher saying that although the Government took the defence of UK airspace very seriously, there was no evidence that UFOs were a threat to national security.

Whether the Queen did act, per instructions, and discuss the threat of a UFO invasion with the powers that be remains a mystery, but it would have been good to be a fly on the wall when she mentioned it to the Duke.

  • Ian Lloyd is author of The Duke: 100 Chapters in the Life of Prince Philip, published by The History Press

Por Ovnis

Deja un comentario

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *