Who is Norton in The Crown season 5? What you need to know about Norton Knatchbull and his royal connections

We reveal more about Norton in The Crown and the real-life Earl he's based on as The Crown season 5 continues to captivate fans...

Who is Norton in The Crown? All you need to know, seen here is Norton Knatchbull, Lord Brabourne attending day 3 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show
(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

If you’re wondering who Norton in The Crown season 5 is based on then we have you covered with what you need to know about Norton Knatchbull.

After waiting so patiently ever since The Crown season 5 trailer dropped last month many fans of the hit historical drama will likely have already binge-watched their way through to the end of this emotional rollercoaster of a season. And if you have, you might well be asking yourself who is Norton in The Crown season 5? The character of Norton Knatchbull is new to the Netflix show this series and whilst the use of dramatic license has often had people wondering how accurate The Crown is, he is very much a real person. 

Here we reveal who Norton in The Crown is based on, who plays him in season 5 and the tragic true story of his daughter Leonora Knatchbull.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead!*

Lord and Lady Romsey attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Who is Norton in The Crown? Everything you need to know about Norton Knatchbull 

Norton Knatchbull is the husband of Penny Knatchbull who was a close friend of the late Prince Philip since they first met in the 1970s. Though the Knatchbull’s royal connections go even deeper than that as Norton is not only the Duke of Edinburgh’s godson but his cousin. 

Norton Knatchbull, 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma, is the grandson of the late Lord Mountbatten via his mother Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma (née Mountbatten). Played in the show by Charles Dance, Lord Mountbatten’s position as King Charles’ mentor was showcased and he was Prince Philip’s uncle. This makes Norton Knatchbull and Prince Philip first cousins, once removed. 

Lieutenant Mountbatten, the fiancé of Princess Elizabeth, attends the christening of Norton Knatchbull

(Image credit: Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Norton was born in 1947 - the same year that the Queen married Prince Philip - and the Duke of Edinburgh attended his christening. Norton was educated at Gordonstoun in Scotland where he is understood to have been close with the then-Prince Charles who also attended the boarding school.

Prince Charles was best man at his wedding to Penelope Eastwood in 1979 at Romsey Abbey in Hampshire, which Prince Philip also attended. This special day had been postponed, however, following the assassination of Lord Mountbatten. Norton’s paternal grandmother, Dowager Lady Brabourne and Norton’s younger brother Nicholas Knatchbull also died in the bombing.

Lord Romsey, marries Penelope Eastwood at Romsey Abbey

(Image credit: Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

After marrying, Norton Knatchbull and Penny Knatchbull settled at the family home, Broadlands in Hampshire, where the Queen and Prince Philip spent their honeymoon. At this time (and at the time of The Crown season 5) they were known as Lord and Lady Romsey and upon the death of Norton’s father in 2005, they became Lord and Lady Brabourne after he inherited the title Baron Brabourne. 

Norton and Penny had three children - Nicholas Knatchbull, now Lord Brabourne, Lady Alexandra Hooper and the late Lady Leonora Knatchbull who passed away in 1991. After many years, Norton and Penny’s marriage went through a difficult time in 2010 when he is understood to have left his wife for a fashion designer based in the Bahamas. 

Norton Knatchbull, Earl Mountbatten of Burma accompanied by his wife Penny, Countess Mountbatten of Burma attends the funeral of his mother Patricia Knatchbull

(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

In 2014 Norton Knatchbull reportedly returned to the UK and moved into a converted barn on the family estate. Since then, the couple are said to have reconciled and now once more live together at Broadlands. When his mother died in 2017, Norton became 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma. 

Who plays Norton in The Crown? 

Actor Elliot Cowan plays Norton in The Crown season 5 and the star has appeared in the likes of Death in Paradise, Peaky Blinders, The Frankenstein Chronicles and Da Vinci’s Demons. He appears in two episodes of the latest season as Norton Knatchbull, with Natasha McElhone playing Penny Knatchbull.

The crown season 5 scene

(Image credit: Netflix)

The tragic true story of Norton and Penny's daughter, Leonora Knatchbull  

In the first episode of The Crown season 5, viewers are introduced to Norton and Penny Knatchbull’s daughter Leonora. She was Princess Diana’s goddaughter and is shown to be very ill in the show which is an unbelievably tragic real-life story. Leonora Knatchbull was Earl and Countess Mountbatten (then Lord and Lady Romsey)’s daughter and she was diagnosed with kidney cancer. 

At just five years old Leonora passed away and it’s understood that Prince Philip and the Queen were a huge source of support for her grieving parents.

Lord Brabourne, formerly Lord Romsey (Norton Knatchbull) speaks in official robes for the Queen's visit to Romsey

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

As reported by The Sun, a source suggested that the Duke of Edinburgh especially helped Penny Knatchbull, claiming, “He was a tremendous support during a time of unimaginable grief.”

Following Leonora’s death, Norton and Penny Knatchbull set up the Leonora Children’s Cancer Fund charity. This is since understood to have been merged with The Edwina Mountbatten Trust to become The Edwina Mountbatten and Leonora Children’s Foundation which aims to provide relief for sick or distressed children across the world, to promote nurses, to support them caring for children suffering from cancer and further research into pediatric cancer. 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with seven years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.