William Tallon

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William Tallon, RVM
Born William John Stephenson Tallon
(1935-11-12)12 November 1935
Birtley, England, UK[1]
Died 23 November 2007(2007-11-23) (aged 72)
Kennington, London, England, UK[2]
Title Steward and Page of the Backstairs

William John Stephenson Tallon, RVM (12 November 1935 – 23 November 2007), also known as Backstairs Billy, was a steward and member of the Queen Mother's staff at Clarence House.

Early life[edit]

Tallon grew up in Norman Place Road, Coundon, Coventry and attended Barkers Butts Secondary Modern School.[3]

Work with the Royal Family[edit]

Tallon's first job in the Royal Household was as a junior assistant, at Easter Court at Windsor in 1951, at age 15. He had been writing letters asking for work with the Household for the previous five years. He was later employed at Buckingham Palace. He was set to join Queen Elizabeth II on her Commonwealth tour in 1953-1954 but was kept back and did his National Service with the RAF. Subsequently, he asked Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother if he could join the staff at her home, Clarence House. She agreed, and he remained with her until her death in 2002.[1][4]

After the death in 2000 of his partner, Reg Wilcock,[5] the House Deputy Steward and the Queen Mother's Page of the Presence, Tallon reportedly suffered from depression when the Queen Mother turned to a younger team.[1] When she died in 2002, at age 101, Tallon left Clarence House. He settled in a ground-floor flat with a garden in Kennington, where he was found dead on 23 November 2007, at age 72.[2]

In 2014 Buckingham Palace reacted angrily to suggestions made in The Royal Life Of William Tallon, a biography of Tallon written by Tom Quinn, that the Queen Mother "was frequently drunk and "dotty" for the final 20 years of her life." The Queen Mother's niece and former lady-in-waiting, Margaret Rhodes, denied that the Queen Mother drank gin and tonic, claiming that she favoured a "gin martini mix which she usually made herself".[6]


  • A Channel 4 documentary, Backstairs Billy: The Queen Mum's Butler, was broadcast in 2009.


He was one of the few holders of the Royal Victorian Medal in Gold, being the highest award in the lowest grade of the Royal Victorian Order.[1] He received the Royal Victorian Medal (Gold) in June 2001, and his 50-year Service Clasp earlier that year.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Obituaries - William Tallon". The Daily Telegraph. 26 November 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Butler, Caroline (29 November 2007). "William Tallon: 'She can make her own b***** gin and tonic...'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Goulden, Barbara (16 July 2008). "Day I had drinks below stairs at Queen Mum's". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  4. ^ The secret life of Backstairs Billy, the Queen Mother's most loyal servant, Daily Mail, 28 January 2010, retrieved 1 May 2009 
  5. ^ Butler, Caroline (7 December 2007). "William Tallon's funeral goes just the way he planned it". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Eden, Richard (5 August 2002). "Honours for Queen Mother's staff". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 

External links[edit]