Veteran Royal-watcher Hugh Ropley-Tossington is set to create controversy with his latest expose of the Royal Family – Muck House: Inside the Fun Palace. In it, he makes the sensational claim that in recent years several members of the Royal Family have regularly been doped at high-profile public functions in order to curb their potentially embarrassing madcap antics. The decision to use pharmaceutical constraints was allegedly taken in secret by senior government figures in the early 1980s, following a series of incidents involving, amongst others, Princess Margaret, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother, which stretched back to the 1950s. Ropley-Tossington chronicles Princess Margaret’s notorious late-night poker sessions held at Kensington Palace during the early 1950s. These alcohol-fuelled card-fests regularly involved both top celebrities and leading political figures of the day and culminated in the infamous strip-poker session which left Sir Winston Churchill in a state of extreme undress. A drunken Princess Margaret wagered the septuagenarian premier that he wouldn’t have the nerve to walk back to Downing Street naked. Sir Winston made it as far as Parliament Square before he was arrested by the police for waving his large cigar at a passing woman. He was bailed from Charing Cross Police station by Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, and the charges against him were eventually dropped when the woman involved admitted her mistake, saying “I should have known something that big in the hands of an old man was only a cigar – especially in that cold weather.”
Whilst Sir Winston escaped jail, he was forced to resign and new Prime Minister Anthony Eden quickly put paid to the card games. Bereft of her poker, Princess Margaret turned increasingly to drink, with her behaviour becoming ever more bizarre. In 1973, for instance, Ropley-Tossington claims that the Princess refused to lead an inspection of the Royal Wessex Fusiliers Regiment (of which she was Colonel-in-Chief) unless all the men were naked from the waist down. “I was promised that there would be privates on parade”, she remarked at the time. The Duke of Edinburgh is also fond of a wager, according to Ropley-Tossington’s new book, and relates an incredible Christmas 1966 incident in which he bet Prime Minister Harold Wilson that he could ride a mount of Wilson’s choice around the perimeter of the Balmoral estate in under fifteen minutes. Apparently the PM was amazed when the Duke responded to his joking suggestion that he ride the Archbishop of Canterbury by saddling up the elderly cleric, digging his spurred heels into his flanks, and forcing him to race around the castle grounds. Although left foaming at the mouth and steaming profusely from his cassock area, the Archbishop succeeded in completing the course (which included jumping two five-bar gates) in twelve minutes. However, he later complained of excessive use of the whip by the Duke, claiming that his arse was red raw for a week afterwards. As a forfeit for losing the bet the Duke originally demanded that Wilson introduce legislation legalising the shooting of peasants, but later settled for the Prime Minister setting fire to his Japanese counterpart’s trousers during a Downing Street press conference. The consequent overseas loss of confidence in the sanity of the British government forced Wilson to devalue the pound in 1968.
Despite the flamboyant antics of Princess Margaret and the Duke of Edinburgh, it is the Queen Mother who emerges from Ropley-Tossington’s unfounded speculations as the chief joker in the Royal pack. Her genteel grandmotherly image belies her true nature as a party-loving bon-vivant and hell-raiser. Following the death of her husband, the Queen Mother was seen with a string of celebrities, including Errol Flynn, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon, all of whom subsequently died in mysterious circumstances. All were captivated by her natural charm, with Hendrix (who, in 1970, allegedly choked to death in his hotel room after drinking his own urine), famously describing her in a “Melody Maker” interview as being “a sex goddess in surgical stockings”. Errol Flynn, who met the Queen Mother at one of Princess Margaret’s poker sessions, was particularly taken with her. The hugely endowed movie star (who could make love to a woman whilst standing in the next room – and once used this ability to get Robert Mitchum slapped by an unsuspecting Marilyn Monroe), was famously involved in a drunken game of golf with her at Windsor Castle, during which he used his member as a five iron – scoring a hole in one. Indeed, it was the Queen Mother’s love of high jinks and practical jokes that eventually led to the doping decision. The final straws were the 1987 state banquet where she goosed the Brazilian Foreign Minister with her false teeth and performed her party trick of blowing smoke-rings from her arse, and the 1989 Remembrance Day incident when she broke the two minutes silence by farting the Last Post. Despite the doping decision, Ropley-Tossington believes that a new generation of Royals are set to continue the madcap traditions of the House of Windsor, claiming that the Windsor Castle fire was the result of a fart-lighting contest between Prince Charles and Prince Andrew. Official reaction to the new book has been hostile, with official spokesmen describing it as “ludicrous”, “baseless speculation” and “lies”. Ropley-Tossington has made no reply to these claims or other allegations that he has simply made it all up.
Muck House: Inside the Fun Palace will be published by LittleDick Books in June, price £14.95.