THERE is much in the new series of The Crown, starting tomorrow, to have palace staff wondering if they should hide the remote control from royal hands. One such scene involves Prince Philip, on a visit to Stephen Ward, osteopath to the A-list, hearing about a weekend party he is organising.

Philip spies a picture on the mantelpiece. “That’s Christine,” says Ward. “She’ll be there and Mandy will be there too.” When years later the Profumo scandal breaks, writer Peter Morgan, still exercising his dramatist’s licence to thrill, has Philip telling the Queen he never took up Ward’s invitation.

That the show should try to tie Philip, however tangentially or fictitiously, to the Profumo affair shows the mesmerising allure of the scandal even after all these years. If there was ever any doubt about this, the reaction to the death this week of “Christine”, Christine Keeler, has wiped it away like dust from an old photograph.

With the demise of a 75-year-old woman in a hospital in Kent we are suddenly back in 1963 again. Cue minister of war Profumo arriving at the Commons where he will lie about the affair. Cue West End good time girls Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies flitting to and from court. Cue pictures of the Russian naval attache, cue Harold Macmillan humiliated, cue Keeler in a swimsuit … We know the story so well it has acquired the status of a repeat. The Great Escape might only show at Christmas but the Profumo affair is always with us.

Lest a film, a play, books, and documentaries have not been enough, there is a new six-part BBC drama, The Trial of Christine Keeler, out next year. Its writer, Amanda Coe, describes the story as “the Salem Witch Trial meets OJ Simpson – a perfect storm of gender, class, race and power that resonates into the world we’re living in today”.

Keeler cashed in on her own story of course, many times. Yet in any settlement of accounts for the Profumo affair, she remained firmly in the column of those who lost out badly. She did not seek refuge in a life of charitable works like Profumo (who was awarded a CBE a decade later), or find escape in suicide, like Ward. Keeler took a spectacular dive into infamy only to find no-one had filled the swimming pool.

Though she tried to start again – new name, marriages, children, a succession of low-paid jobs – she was never able to escape the shadow cast by Profumo. The shame initially heaped on her head stayed with her for life. She became that dreadful thing, a cautionary tale. As her son, Seymour, put it: “She earned her place in British history but at a huge personal price.”

It was telling that the reaction to news of Keeler’s death has been largely sympathetic. Finally, we seem to have grown up, seeing Ms Keeler for what she was: a young woman, just 19 when she met Profumo, who fell in with a crowd of men who were older and vastly more powerful than herself, and who used her for their own ends.

Viewed from that angle, the whole Swinging Sixties scene, the benefits of which only seem to have been available to a handful of those and such of those, were a sham in which the new bosses were the same as the old bosses – men. We would never put up with such an obscene imbalance of power today, would we? We would never allow rich, powerful, badly behaving men to break young women like so many butterflies on a wheel, would we?

Those last inquiries, lest there be any doubt, should be played out against a background of hollow laughter. For we know with the Weinstein scandal, and the many more people who have come forward with allegations (mostly women, but men too), that the power gap was never closed. Despite time and legislation passing, it continued, just as before.

If anything, it was easier for the less powerful in the Profumo Affair, Ms Keeler and Ms Rice-Davies, to have their say. The age of deference was on its way out, helped by a bold, voracious press. The story broke relatively quickly, and thereafter there was no holding it back.

Contrast this with how long the lid appears to have been kept on the allegations surfacing today. Consider, too, the ways in which alleged victims were ostracised, silenced by threats of legal action, or by fear they would not be believed. The New York Times, which has led the way on Weinstein, produced fresh revelations yesterday about what it called the workings of his “complicity machine” staffed by “enablers, silencers and spies”.

All of which makes the fightback of 2017, a year defined by scandal as surely as 1963, seem even more incredible, bordering on miraculous. Several things have made the difference in helping the previously powerless take on Goliath. First and foremost has been the bravery of those who have come forward. Next is the crucial part played by social media. Being able to get the story out there, to ask for support, to feel that safety in numbers, heartened those who came forward first and encouraged others to follow.

The old dead-tree media played its part too, piling time, money, and energy into taking on those who had too often been able to shut down inquiry with the threat of legal action.

Let us not get too carried away at how far we have come, however. As you may have noticed, the backlash is already here. It has started small, with a series of half-baked apologies peppered with words like “misunderstandings” and “missteps”, that make you wonder if the person saying sorry is genuinely contrite, or just sorry they were called out. Add to this the number of people, women often to the fore, who are questioning what all the fuss is about, and it is clear that there is a long way to go before those scales of power are anywhere close to being balanced.

As for Ms Keeler, she is the last of the main Profumo cast to depart. The story will never go away, but as reaction to her death has shown, it can be viewed differently, smaller voices can be picked out from the din.

“We are all very proud of who she was,” said her son. I hope, in the end, she came close to feeling the same.