He was a trusted servant who gave years of loyal service to the royal family – and was in turn privy to their most intimate secrets. Now, seven months after his death, the possessions of William Tallon, the late Queen Mother's steward, are to go under the hammer.
On July 5 around 700 items - worth an estimated £500,000 - from the personal collection of Backstairs Billy, as he was fondly known in royal circles, are to go on sale. When he died last year the court favourite's flat, a grace-and-favour home in Kennington, South London, was crammed with royal mementos.
Among them were numerous gifts from senior royals, including sketches by Norman Hartnell of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
Lots include notes from Princess Diana, written to the Queen Mother's Page of the Backstairs about her stay in Clarence House on the eve of her wedding, and later on the births of her children William and Harry.
Also included in the sale by Colchester auctioneer Reeman Dansie are handwritten notes from the Queen, Prince Charles, and Billy's beloved employer.