Royal photographer says Prince Philip kept erotic book in his collection

(Tim Graham/Getty Images)

More than two years after the death of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, a former royal photographer has reflected on a particular book that almost appeared in one of his photos of the couple.

Julian Calder appeared on a Wednesday 6 September episode of Hello! A Right Royal Podcast in honour of the one-year anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s death on 8 September. Calder is recognisable for his work capturing well-known portraits of the royal family, including the late Queen and Philip at the Scottish Order of the Thistle as well as her Diamond Jubilee portraits.

He explained in the podcast that there were no rules for him to follow when taking photos of the royal family, but a line was drawn when he had to ask for an erotic book to be taken out of the background when taking the late Duke of Edinburgh’s picture.

“I once did a portrait of Prince Philip in his office,” Calder recalled. “And he was standing there, and I was quite young at the time.”

The photographer continued: “And I’m looking through the lens, I thought: ‘God just behind his right ear is a book –The Joy of Sex. I had to say: ‘Prince Philip, should we move that?’ And he laughed, and he got his equerry to come and move it. I’d have looked stupid!”

The Joy of Sex was published in 1972 and quickly became an international best seller. A revised edition of the book was published in 2008. According to Penguin Random House, “Dr Alex Comfort’s classic work dared to celebrate the joy of human physical intimacy with such authority and candour that a whole generation felt empowered to enjoy sex.”

This isn’t the only time the late royal was remembered for being cheeky. In June, Prince William visited the East Belfast Mission at the Skainos Centre in Northern Ireland as part of his Homewards Initiative to combat homelessness in the United Kingdom. During his visit, he was told an anecdote about his grandfather Prince Philip’s work with the charity.

According to Hello! magazine, William was being shown around the centre by Reverend Brian Anderson when the minister stopped to tell him a story about his grandfather. The reverend recalled how Prince Philip had used some expletive-filled language during his last visit to the charity in 2008, when he asked why the new building for the East Belfast Mission had not been built yet.

“He just immediately asked: ‘Why don’t you just give them the money?’” the reverend told William about his grandfather. “There was an expletive in there but I’m not going to say that. And three weeks later the money turned up.”

In response to the anecdote, the Prince of Wales replied: “That sounds like my grandfather.”

After Prince Philip’s death in April 2021, William shared a tribute to him, saying: “My grandfather’s century of life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family.

“I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life – both through good times and the hardest days.