A new book has the British Royal Family in a rage with its claim that the beloved Queen Mother was basically insane and frequently drunk for much of the final two decades of her life. In fact, the late Queen Mother’s 89-year-old niece has already denounced the book — a biography of one of the Queen Mother’s favorite servants — as “nonsense.”
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was the wife of Britain’s King George VI, who died in 1952 at age 56. Because George VI had no male heirs, upon his death his elder daughter Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II, who still reigns today. The wife of George VI, also named Elizabeth, then became the Queen Mother.
The Queen Mother was one of England’s most beloved figures, who always seemed immune to the various scandals that racked the royals, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. She lived to be 101 years old, passing away on March 30, 2002.
But the new book, Backstairs Billy: The Royal Life Of William Tallon, portrays a very different picture of the Queen Mother, claiming that the colorful Tallon was her favorite servant because he was an expert at mixing gin and tonics which were extremely high in alcohol.
The book also described the Queen Mother as “dotty to the point of lunacy” for the final 20 years of her life.
Tallon reportedly worked in the Queen Mother’s entourage for about 50 years.
The book, by author Thomas Quinn, also paints a picture of the royal family as a crude bunch “whose members loved drinking and smoking, swearing and playing sometimes cruel practical jokes on each other in private.”
Questions about the royals’ mental state are not unusual. A recent media report claimed that Queen Elizabeth herself now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
While a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said that no one in the current Royal Family “would not comment on this kind of book,” and a royal aide told Britain’s Daily Express newspaper that the royals had not seen the book but, “the allegations made in the promotional material are scurrilous, wrong and insulting to the memory of the Queen Mother,” the Queen Mother’s niece was more ready to go on the record.
“To write such absolute nonsense about someone who is dead and unable to answer back is disgusting,” said Magaret Rhodes, a bridesmaid at Queen Elizabeth’s wedding whose mother was the Queen Mother’s sister. “She preferred a gin martini mix which she usually made herself. She drank no more than one or two drinks of an evening but never drank too much.”
Rhodes also denied the charge in the book that the Queen Mother became insane, saying that while the Queen Mother had a keen sense of humor, “she wasn’t some party girl and she certainly didn’t go potty.”