Get ready to sit comfortably and sip on some royally good laughs as Edinburgh Festival hit ‘Tea With The Old Queen’ arrives in Berwick on Saturday.
Beyond Eternity Promotion’s show is based on the meeting of writer and director Graham Woolnough with William Tallon, who racked up 40 years of service to the Royal Family, firstly as a page and then as a steward to the Queen Mother.
His employment came after William, or Billy as he was known to his friends, sent a letter to Buckingham Palace as a teenager telling them about his desire to work there and enquiring about a vacancy.
Much to his surprise they got back in touch and offered him a position and that was his gateway to a career he cherished,
Loyal to the end never divulged anything that would besmirch his regal employers although Graham’s conversations with him gave him plenty of food for thought.
“I met Billy 15 years ago and the first thing that struck me was what a great eccentric he was,” Graham explained.
“If he hadn’t have worked for the Royal Family I’m sure he would’ve been an actor; he was a great character.
“But while happy to talk about his job – it was his life, he lived and breathed it – he took his secrets to the grave. He never once bad mouthed the Royals so my play is really a work of fiction with an element of truth to it as events like the millennium; visits of foreign dignitaries and the Blairs going to Balmoral obviously did happen.”
Due to Billy’s staunch loyalty to the Royals, anyone hoping to get some salacious scandal from ‘Tea With The queen’ will be disappointed, but Graham believes it doesn’t make it any less entertaining.
“It should please royalists and people who don’t particularly like the Royal Family in equal measure.
“Billy worshipped the Queen Mother so it’s not nasty or vicious in any way.
“Instead i’s light hearted and quirky and people should take it for being exactly that.
“There’s some innuendo and rumour in there but no dirt is dished.”
○ ‘Tea with the Old Queen’ is in The Maltings Henry Travers Studio. Tickets are £13/£11.50/£7