Profumo Affair

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The Profumo Affair was a 1963 British political scandal named after John Profumo, Secretary of State for War. His affair with Christine Keeler, the reputed mistress of an alleged Russian spy, followed by lying in the House of Commons when he was questioned about it, forced the resignation of Profumo and damaged the reputation of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's government. Macmillan himself resigned a few months later due to ill health.


Profumo's relationship with Keeler

In the early 1960s Profumo was the secretary of state for war in Harold Macmillan's Conservative government and was married to actress Valerie Hobson. In 1961 Profumo met Christine Keeler, a London call girl, at a house party at Cliveden, the Buckinghamshire mansion owned by Lord Astor. Many years later Profumo would claim, in discussion with his son, David, that he had met Keeler previously at a night club in London called Murray's and "probably had a drink with her."[2] Also present at the Cliveden party were Profumo's wife and the fashionable osteopath, Dr Stephen Ward, a long-standing acquaintance of Keeler. The relationship with Keeler lasted only a few weeks before Profumo ended it. However, rumours about the affair became public in 1962, as did the allegation that Keeler had also had a relationship with Yevgeny "Eugene" Ivanov, a senior naval attaché at the Soviet embassy in London. Given Profumo's position in the government and with the Cold War at its height, the potential ramifications in terms of national security were grave, and this, along with the adulterous nature of Profumo's relationship with Keeler, quickly elevated the affair into a public scandal.

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