Profumo affair

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The Profumo affair was an event in 1963 that involved Brigadier John Profumo, a British cabinet minister, Christine Keeler, a model and showgirl who was photographed naked on a chair, Mandy Rice-Davies, a professional dancer who was not naked, Stephen Ward, an osteopath, Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet spy and the Cliveden Set. No, this isn't a joke where they all go into a bar and hilarity ensues.


[edit] The affair

Profumo lied about having a relationship with Keeler and Rice-Davies - both of whom were also having relationships with Peter Rachman the rack renter.

Fallout from the affair included:

  • Stephen Ward being convicted of "Living Off Immoral Earnings"
  • John Profumo resigning his cabinet position, as well as his Privy Council and parliamentary membership.
  • The discrediting of Harold "Super Mac" McMillan's leadership. He resigned from ill health shortly afterwards

Famous quote - when Profumo denied his relationship, Mandy Rice-Davies replied: "He would say that, wouldn't he?"

[edit] Cultural Significance

The Profumo Affair was part of a cultural sea change in the UK in the early sixties where the reputation of the establishment took a number of blows. It was widely mocked in such publications as Private Eye and on That Was The Week That Was, a state of affairs which would have been unthinkable only a few years earlier.

[edit] Aftermath

After his resignation both Profumo and his wife retired to a quiet life devoted to good works, for over forty years, up until their respective deaths. Profumo went straight from resignation as a Minister to volunteer work washing up and cleaning toilets at Toynbee Hall, a charity for the homeless and socially excluded in London. He continued to volunteer there for the rest of his life, eventually running their fundraising. He was awarded a CBE for services to charity in 1975 and though he was rarely active in public life he sat next to the Queen at Margaret Thatcher's 70th birthday dinner. Lord Longford said that he felt "more admiration [for Profumo] than [for] all the men he'd known in his lifetime.[1]

As for the girls, Christine Keeler, no longer suited to naked escapades on chairs, is in retirement after two failed marriages. Her autobiography[2] was published in 2001, and a new edition is threatened for 2014. Mandy Rice-Davies had a very thin career as an actress and ran restaurants in Israel.

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. BBC obituary
  2. Christine Keeler: The Truth at Last ghosted by Douglas Thompson. Sidgwick & Jackson, 2001. ISBN 978-0283072918
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