Prince Andrew Once Dated an American Actress

Lauren Hubbard
·4 min read
Photo credit: Tom Wargacki - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tom Wargacki - Getty Images

From Town & Country

Queen Elizabeth's third child, Prince Andrew is no stranger to scandal. The ongoing controversy over his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as well as personal allegations against him (he denies any suggestion of sexual impropriety) have required him to step back from his official royal duties, but it's far from the Duke of York's first time dealing with controversy. Take, for example, his relationship with Koo Stark, which caused a flurry of headlines in the early 1980s.

Who is Koo Stark?

Kathleen Norris Stark, better known as Koo, was born in New York in 1956 to writers and entertainers Wilbur Stark and Kathi Norris. Educated in New York and London, it wasn't long before she got in on the family business, starring in a string of films starting in the mid-'70s with the comedy All I Want Is You… And You… And You, produced by her father. She was also rumored to be in contention for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope (in 2016 she said that she was, in fact, offered the part) and ultimately filmed scenes as Luke Skywalker's friend Camie Marstrap, but the character was cut from the final film.

In 1981, while she was understudying for a production of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf at the National Theatre in London, she was introduced to Prince Andrew by mutual friends who were celebrating the Prince's 21st birthday. "Friends, including the landlady of my basement flat in Chester Square, Belgravia, were taking Prince Andrew for a meal but the ‘spare girl’ had gone missing" Stark later wrote of their meeting. "It turned out I was her understudy too."

The two hit it off, and that night after he drove her home, she found a note he had left for her inviting her to "BP" the next day for lunch. "Initially I wondered why he was taking me to a petrol station–it took me a moment to realise he meant Buckingham Palace," she wrote.

Photo credit: Tom Stoddart Archive - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tom Stoddart Archive - Getty Images

Her relationship with Prince Andrew

Stark and Andrew began dating almost immediately and she spent time at Buckingham Palace and later was even invited to Balmoral. The Queen reportedly liked the young actress and she got along well with the royal family (despite accidentally headbutting Prince Charles at their first meeting when she tried to curtsy as he went to kiss her cheek).

"It was a blurring of two very different worlds," Stark wrote. "I bought Andrew his first pair of denim jeans and he gave me a T-shirt of his which I loved. It said ‘Don’t Panic’. He bought me one of my own emblazoned with ‘Here comes Trouble’. I didn’t know whether to be pleased or insulted. Either way, looking back, he was right."

They continued seeing one another during Andrew's stint as a helicopter pilot with the 820 Naval Air Squadron during the Falklands conflict in 1982, but remained largely out of the public eye until a vacation to Princess Margaret’s villa in Mustique caught the attention of the media.

"The press we received rivaled that of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII," she said, later elaborating, "The attention in those days was unprecedented and the paparazzi were everywhere. I was once dragged from the back of a motorbike by the hair; I was hit in the solar plexus by a long lens. Photographers on motorbikes literally rode into restaurants to attempt to get pictures of us together. I moved address for 2 years every time my address was published."

Photo credit: JOHN STILLWELL - Getty Images
Photo credit: JOHN STILLWELL - Getty Images

After 18 months together, the relationship fell apart. Andrew would go on to marry Sarah Ferguson in 1986—a relationship that would go on to spawn its own fair share of scandal.

Did she star in adult films?

One of the biggest headline-grabbing moments of Stark and Andrew's relationship came when scenes from Stark's film career surfaced involving Stark's character in sexual situations that were dubbed soft core pornography in the papers. The films that drew attention included The Awakening of Emily (alternately titled Emily) from 1976 which stars Stark as the titular young woman discovering her sexuality in 1920s England and the 1977 film Cruel Passion (alternately titled Marquis de Sade's Justine), based on the novel Justine.

In 2019, Stark received a "substantial sum of money by way of damages" from Viacom International following a libel lawsuit she brought against the media company for referring to her as a "porn star."

Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images
Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images

After Prince Andrew

Though Stark was well-known from the tabloid coverage of her relationship with Andrew, she has said that the fame didn't translate to her career prospects.

"The acting roles I was being offered were exploitative or unsuitable. Directors were either interested in the publicity I’d bring or seek to make money for the project based on my involvement," she wrote in an open letter to Meghan Markle in 2016.

In 1993, she married gallery owner Tim Jeffries, but they divorced shortly thereafter. In 1997 she gave birth to a daughter, Tatiana, with Warren Walker. Prince Andrew serves as Tatiana's godfather. Stark was subsequently involved in a prolonged legal action with Walker over support payments she says she is owed but the judge ruled against her in 2020.

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