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Profumo Affair: Sex, scandal & politics

Updated on June 17, 2015
The Profumo Affair
The Profumo Affair | Source

An English Affair by Richard Davenport-Hines

I was eight years old. So therefore I didn't pay much attention to the news. If I looked at newspapers at all, it was to read the cartoons. I never watched the news on TV, although my mum and dad would always watch it.

And yet I kept hearing this exotic-sounding word ... 'Profumo'.

John Profumo and Christine Keeler

So it wasn't until I was a little older that I found out that this exotic word had something to do with a government scandal. Boring. A few more years and I heard that it was a sex scandal. Ah, that's more interesting, then.

The government minister and the call girl

Profumo was the secretary of state for war - that's a pretty powerful position - and two years before the scandal hit the news, he had a brief affair with a 'model' by the name of Christine Keeler. (When I heard her mentioned on TV, I thought they meant the blind lady. Hey, I was only eight).

Uneasy bedfellows

Of course, there was nothing new - or even particularly scandalous about a politician having a bit on the side but the problem here was that his mistress had another 'boyfriend' - a senior member of the personnel of the Soviet Embassy.

Newspaper silence

It was traditional in Britain at the time for newspapers, who always seem to unearth stories, to maintain a dignified silence when it came to the indiscretions of public figures but when Christine Keeler was later investigated about another matter, there was the important question of national security and the possibility of 'pillow talk'.

Well, I had to find out, hadn't I?

When this book was released I was probably one of its first buyers.

The background, the scandal and the aftermath

After all the time that had passed, it was good to read about England in the 1960s to set the scene. The author explains the scandal to a modern-day audience in the correct historical context - quite an eye-opener.

Learn more

1963: That Was the Year That Was
1963: That Was the Year That Was

1963 was arguably one of the most eventful years of the twentieth century. In addition to the Profumo scandal there were many more events that year that changed the world forever.


© 2013 Jackie Jackson


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    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @sousababy: Good point! I have many books about the goings-on of high society in times gone by.I'm looking forward to writing about them ;)

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 4 years ago

      Well, ha - guess this kind of thing has been around longer than I have. And yet, she had another boyfriend (who was also a political figure . . from the Soviet Embassy, no less). Hmmmm, wonder if some modern-day mistresses have some catching up to do.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @smine27: It's a fascinating story - and true, too.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Ok now you've got me intrigued.