Woman Whose Affairs Rocked Britain Is Dead at 75

Christine Keeler was forever associated with the Profumo affair
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2017 8:35 AM CST
Woman Whose Affairs Rocked Britain Is Dead at 75
This file photo dated July 22, 1963, shows Christine Keeler.   (AP Photo/FILE)

"She was the last survivor of a story that gripped Great Britain and the world more than 50 years ago." So says the attorney for Christine Keeler to the Guardian upon news of the 75-year-old's Monday night death. She had been living under the last name Sloane in an attempt to put more distance between herself and the Profumo affair that she was so infamously and indelibly attached to. In 1961 Keeler, then a young cabaret dancer working in London, met Tory cabinet minister and rising political star John Profumo—as well as Russian military attache Yevgeny Ivanov. She began affairs with both men, and when the triangle came to light in 1963, it gripped Britain, played upon Cold War fears, and triggered events that led to the undoing of the Harold Macmillan government.

The BBC reports Keeler caught Profumo's eye while "splashing" in a swimming pool at a party in Buckinghamshire; she was 19, reports the Washington Post, and he was 46 and married. Their brief affair surfaced in a convoluted way: Two other men fought over Keeler, and one of them fired shots into a home where she was hiding. Police investigated, and Keeler's connection to Profumo ultimately became publicized. The Ivanov angle led to fears of a security issue; when Profumo was questioned by Parliament, he characterized his relationship with Keeler as platonic. Profumo ended up resigning after admitting he lied. An interesting note from the BBC: "Keeler later claimed she had been sleeping with Ivanov at the same time as she was having an affair with Profumo, but many commentators have since dismissed her account." (More obituary stories.)

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