BACKSTAIRS BILLY: The Life of William TallonTom Quinn Book Number: 85700 Product format: Paperback
When he was around eight years old, Billy began collecting news and pictures of the Royal Family, and soon it was to become an obsession as he would even remove old magazines from dustbins in case he had missed a story. He wanted to be part of the Royal's world, and it wasn't long before he began writing to the Palace, asking for a job, however menial. Polite rejections mounted up, all carefully saved by Billy as extra memorabilia, but then one wonderful day he was invited for an interview, and at the age of 15, began work as a junior footman at Buckingham Palace - a grocer's son from Birtley with high ambitions. From the start he stood out with his smartness, attention to detail, subservient manner and good looks. Gradually, Billy rose through the ranks, and after the death of King George VI went with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother to her new abode at Clarence House. He soon became her favourite servant, eventually reaching the stage where he was trusted enough to become, if not her friend, a welcome companion. However, Billy was not universally popular; many of the staff disliked him, possibly jealous of his friendship with the Queen Mother, and also disliking his manner, which could on occasion be spiteful. This fascinating, often scandalous account of the rise and subsequent fall of the high camp Billy, whose intense adoration of the Queen Mother completely governed his life, is both poignant and humorous. It is an enjoyable read for anyone intrigued by the world of the backstairs staff in royal palaces. 257pp, paperback.
Published price: £8.99
Bibliophile price: £4.50
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