Queen Mother
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on coronation day on the Buckingham Palace balcony, London, England, May 12, 1937. Right of the Queen is Lady Ursula Manners, one of her six trainbearers, and to the left of the King is Earl Kitchener, one of the nine pages who bore the King's train at the coronation. Getty Images/Underwood Archives


  • Royal historian Gareth Russell said the Queen Mother would have three drinks a day if she had no engagements
  • The Queen Mother defended "a lot of gay people" when she was still alive, according to the author
  • The late royal was like a second mother to her grandson Charles and always encouraged him

A royal historian is exploring the "campness" of Queen Elizabeth II's mother, the Queen Mother.

King George VI's wife, who was known for her floral dresses, extravagant hats and lavish lifestyle, was "really camp," according to Gareth Russell, author of the new book "Do Let's Have Another Drink!: The Dry Wit and Fizzy Life of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother."

"There was a very performative and delicious element to the Queen Mother. She liked to put on a show," Russell told Page Six. "And there was an almost wink, wink, nudge-nudge campness to the way she lived her life."

The Queen Mother, who was consistently among the most popular members of the British royal family before she passed away in 2002 at age 101, liked to drink a lot, Russell claimed.

On a typical day, if she had no royal engagements, she would have at least three different drinks — a cocktail before lunch, a drink at lunch and another during dinner, according to the historian.

"I think she was probably just somebody who could handle her drinking really well," he explained. "What's interesting is, there are very few stories of her being unsteady on her feet or even slurring her words, whereas other people around her were decimated by trying to keep pace."

The Queen Mother's loyal steward William Tallon, who was also known as Backstairs Billy, often poured her drinks. He worked for the royal family from 1960 until she died in 2002. He was openly gay, whose on-and-off partner for over three decades was Buckingham Palace footman Reginald Wilcock, the royal author claimed.

Russell recounted the story of the Queen Mother overhearing Tallon and Wilcock quarreling. She reportedly sidled over and asked, "Would one of you old queens mind getting this old queen a drink?"

"She had a really kind of wicked sense of humor. She loved it when Billy did these quite camp impressions of people and she defended a lot of gay people at the time," the historian told Page Six, noting that this was at a time when homosexuality was illegal in Britain.

Russell also weighed in on the Queen Mother's relationship with her grandson, King Charles. According to the author, she was a warm presence for the former Prince of Wales when he was growing up.

In his book, Russell broke down why the Queen Mother was like a second mom to Charles.

"In some ways, the Queen Mother was a mother figure to Charles just because the Queen became Queen when Charles was so young. There were a lot of tours of the Commonwealth and every time the Queen had to go away, Prince Charles stayed with the Queen Mother," Russell told People. "They had a great sense of humor, and she always encouraged him."

Prince Charles and Queen Mother
Queen Mother was horrified and terrified when she learned that her husband would be king and she would be the new queen. Pictured: Prince Charles and Queen Mother for a pageant on London's Horse Guards Parade to mark her 100th birthday on July 19, 2000. Getty Images/Fiona Hanson