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Priscilla Presley Says Elvis Respected Age Gap: "I Never Had Sex With Him"

The actor met her future husband when she was only 14 years old.

The life of Priscilla Presley is explored in filmmaker Sofia Coppola's Priscilla, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 4. Through the course of the movie, Priscilla (Cailee Spaeny) goes from being a teenage girl living in Germany to becoming the wife of rock star Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi), one of the most famous men in the world. She was only 14 to his 24 when the two met, but the real Priscilla claimed during a press conference for the film on Sept. 4 that there was nothing untoward about their relationship in the early days and that Elvis "respected" that she was so young. She also said that they didn't have sex until they were married. Read on to find out more about their age-gap romance and her thoughts on the film.

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Priscilla and Elvis met when she was in ninth grade.

Priscilla and Elvis Presley on their wedding day in May 1967
Keystone/Getty Images

Priscilla met Elvis at a get-together when she was living in West Germany while her father was in the Air Force. At the time, Elvis was in the army, but he was already a hugely popular musician. When he was drafted in 1958, he had already released three albums—with songs including "Heartbreak Hotel" and "All Shook Up"—and starred in movies, including Jailhouse Rock.

In a 1985 essay for People, Priscilla wrote that when she first met Elvis, he thought that she was a couple of years older than she was. When she told him she was in ninth grade, he said, "Why, you're just a baby."

Priscilla and Elvis bonded from there and remained in touch after he went back to the U.S. Eventually, her parents agreed to let her complete her senior year of high school in Memphis where he lived. They got married in 1967, just before Priscilla's 22nd birthday.

Priscilla said they didn't have sex when she was underage.

Jacob Elordi, Cailee Spaeny, Priscilla Presley, and Sofia Coppola at the 2023 Venice Film Festival
Stefania D'Alessandro/WireImage via Getty Images

As reported by Variety, Priscilla was not on stage for the movie's press conference at the Venice Film Festival but spoke out from the audience, giving some insight into their relationship when they first met.

"Elvis would pour his heart out to me in every way in Germany: his fears, his hopes, the loss of his mother—which he never, ever got over. And I was the person who really, really sat there to listen and to comfort him," she said. "That was really our connection. Even though I was 14, I was actually a little bit older in life—not in numbers. That was the attraction."

She also attempted to correct what she believes is a common misconception. "People think, 'Oh, it was sex.' No, it wasn't. I never had sex with him," she said. "He was very kind, very soft, very loving, but he also respected the fact I was only 14 years old. We were more in line in thought, and that was our relationship."

But they were physical in other ways.

Priscilla and Elvis Presley on their wedding day in May 1967
Bettmann / Getty Images

In her 1985 People essay, Priscilla wrote that she and Elvis were affectionate with each other, even though they waited to have sex. She described "long, deep passionate kisses" while they were in Germany. Of the night before he left for the U.S., she wrote, "That night our lovemaking was especially passionate." Priscilla evidently used the word "lovemaking" to indicate other ways of being close, because she went on to say that Elvis still wanted to wait.

"For the last time I begged him to consummate our love," she wrote. "It would have been so easy for him. I was young, desperately in love, and he could have taken advantage of me. But he quietly said, 'No. Someday we will, Priscilla, but not now. You're just too young.'"

She said he wanted her to wait until marriage.

Elvis and Priscilla Presley and their baby daughter Lisa Marie Presley in 1968
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In the same essay, Priscilla said that Elvis wanted her to remain a virgin until they were married, which she has said she did.

"Something in his Southern upbringing had taught him that the 'right' girl was to be saved for marriage," she wrote. "I was that girl. At the same time, he molded me into his woman. I wore the clothes, hairstyle and makeup of his careful choosing."

Later, when they were back in the U.S., she again tried to initiate things. "He put his finger to my lips and whispered, 'Not yet, not now. We have a lot to look forward to. I'm not going to spoil you. I just want to keep you the way you are for now. There'll be a right time and place, and when the moment comes, I'll know it,'" she wrote.

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She said she "lost herself" in their relationship.

After welcoming daughter Lisa Marie Presley in 1968, Priscilla and Elvis divorced in 1973. During a 2016 interview with Loose Women, Priscilla said that she left Elvis because she needed to find herself. They'd also both had affairs, as reported by People.

"You honestly didn't have your own life. You lived his life," she said on the talk show. "You saw the movies he wanted to see. You listened to the music he listened to. You go to places he would go. So, you really kind of lost yourself." She added, "As a woman, I didn't really know who I was … I needed to find out what the world was like, really." Elvis died of cardiac arrest four years after their divorce in 1977.

At the Venice Film Festival, Priscilla looked back on their breakup again.

"[W]e built a relationship and then our relationship went on until I left," she said. "And it wasn't because I didn't love him—he was the love of my life. It was the lifestyle that was so difficult for me, and I think any woman can relate to that. But it didn't mar our relationship, we still remained very close. And of course, we had our daughter, and I made sure that he saw her all the time. It was like we never left each other."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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