Michael Parker (courtier)

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Lieutenant Commander John Michael Avison Parker, CVO, AM (23 June 1920 – 29 December 2001), was an Australian who served as an officer of the Royal Navy (RN), and as Private Secretary to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh between 1947 and 1957.

Early life and education[edit]

Parker was born in Melbourne on 23 June 1920.[1] The son of Captain C. A. Parker, he was educated at Xavier College, Melbourne.[1]


Parker served in the Royal Australian Navy, and then the Royal Navy, between 1938 and 1947, reaching the rank of lieutenant commander. He fought at the Battle of Narvik, and later was First Lieutenant of HMS Lauderdale in 1942, then of HMS Wessex in the 27th Destroyer Flotilla of the British Pacific Fleet. [2]

Parker first met the then Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in 1942, when Philip was assigned to the destroyer HMS Wallace as a sub-lieutenant.[1] They became close friends. In 1947, when Philip was created Duke of Edinburgh in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, Parker joined the Household of the Duke of Edinburgh as Private Secretary, initially on a part-time basis. He also became Equerry to the Duke and the Duchess of Edinburgh (who later became, in 1952, The Queen). The Duke brought Parker into the "Thursday Club", an exclusive weekly luncheon group.[3]

In 1952, Parker was in Kenya with the royal couple and broke the news to them of King George VI's death.[1][2] Parker became full-time Private Secretary to the Duke. [1] Parker was created Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 1953, and Commander (CVO) in 1957.[1] He accompanied the Duke on his 1956 five month world tour aboard HMY Britannia.[4]

Parker's divorce in 1958, reported on extensively in the media, forced him to resign as the Duke's Private Secretary. He was succeeded in that role by James Orr.[5] Parker remained in contact with the Duke until the end of his life.[1][4] Parker worked for aircraft builder Lockheed Corporation and advertising agency Leo Burnett Worldwide. He returned to live in Australia in the late 1960s. He became chairman of Australian Dredging and General Services, and was a director of Spoerry Australia.[1]

In 1996, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.[1] He died in Melbourne, Australia, in December 2001.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Parker married Eileen Allan in 1943, with whom he had a son and a daughter. The marriage was dissolved in 1958. Eileen wrote a 1982 book called Step Aside for Royalty in which she claimed her husband and the Duke of Edinburgh used the pseudonyms Murgatroyd and Winterbottom to "gallivant out of the palace".[6][7] Parker denied the claim.[6]

In 1962 Parker married Carol Thompson, with whom he had another daughter and son; the marriage was dissolved.[2] In 1976, he married Jean Ramsay, who died in 2001.[1][2]

In popular culture[edit]

Parker is portrayed by Daniel Ings in the Netflix series The Crown.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Commander Michael Parker". The Telegraph. 2 January 2002. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Commander Michael Parker". Independent. 4 January 2002. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  3. ^ The Crown: The Scandal That Rocked Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s Marriage] Vanity Fair, December, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Bley Griffiths, Eleanor (8 December 2017). "The Crown: Who was Prince Philip's right hand man Mike Parker?". Radio Times. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  5. ^ Heald, Tim. "James Orr: Private Secretary to Prince Philip". The Independent (UK). Archived from the original on 28 May 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  6. ^ a b Lazatin, Hannah (8 December 2017). "Sex and Drugs Put a Strain on the British Monarchy in the 1950s". Town and Country. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  7. ^ Davies, Nicholas (2013). Elizabeth II: Behind Palace Doors. Random House.