Just what is the truth behind the Queen Mother’s life and death? Was she really the kindly fun-loving old Grandma depicted by Prince Charles, or was she actually a gin-sodden old despot with loose morals? What is the truth behind her tragic and unexpected death? How could an apparently fit and healthy 101 year old, in the prime of her dotage, one day be swilling gin and playing strip poker with the Brigade of Guards, the next be stone cold dead? In his latest book top Royal watcher Hugh Ropley-Tossington claims that far from being a staid traditionalist the Queen Mother experimented with drugs, had affairs with several top showbiz celebrities and was behind the death of Princess Diana. Perhaps the most startling claim in the book is that the announcement of her death on 30 March was part of an elaborate hoax perpetrated on the media by the Queen Mother herself. She had apparently planned to leap out of her coffin the following Monday, live on TV, shouting “April fool!”. However, the Duke of Edinburgh, finding that the coffin lid was not properly secured, screwed it down tightly – whilst allegedly shouting “Quick, nail the bloody thing down before the miserable old bat changes her mind” – tragically condemning the Queen Mother to a slow and painful death by suffocation. Whilst Ropley-Tossington concedes that the Duke – like the rest of the royal family – was probably unaware of his mother-in-law’s subterfuge, he also claims that the Duke proceeded to dance a jig around the coffin, laughing hysterically and singing “Ding, dong, the witch is dead”.

According to Ropley-Tossington the April Fool prank was simply another example of the Queen Mother’s unconventional sense of humour – an aspect of her character rarely seen in public, but frequently on display in private. “Every Christmas at Balmoral she would entertain the rest of the royal family and their guests with her amazing ability to impersonate well-known personages with her arse,” says the veteran Royal correspondent. “One of her best impressions was of Winston Churchill – she apparently clenched a lighted cigar between her arse cheeks and farted the words ‘Never, never, in the field of human conflict…’ She could also perform the whole of ‘Come Fly With Me’ in the style of Frank Sinatra – incredibly farting both words and music.” The Queen Mother finally gave up these anal impersonations in 1989 on medical advice, after she had spectacularly ‘followed through’ whilst performing an impression of Margaret Thatcher.

According to Ropley-Tossington, the Queen Mother’s dabbling in drugs began in the 1960s when she shared a joint with John Lennon and George Harrison during the Beatles’ visit to Buckingham Palace to collect their OBEs. “There is a long tradition of drug-taking in the Royal family stretching from Queen Victoria, who regularly took laudanum, an opium derivative, to Prince Harry and his spliffs”, says Ropley-Tossington, who believes that it was the Queen Mother herself who introduced her great-grandson to marijuana. The encounter with the Beatles also introduced her to the whole 1960s swinging London hippy counter-culture, which she embraced enthusiastically. She attended several anti-Vietnam war and ‘Ban the Bomb’ marches incognito and once caused scandal by inviting a group of hippies back to Buckingham Palace for a love-in. They promptly set up their tents in the grounds and began burning joss-sticks, sticking daisies down the barrels of the Palace guard’s guns, and urinating and defecating in the flower beds. They were eventually chased off by a shotgun-weilding Prince Philip, who had been shocked to find several semi-naked hippy chicks undressing the then teenaged Prince Charles, and painting CND symbols all over his body. He had earlier caught his Mother-in-law, clad in little more than beads and with a flower clenched between her buttocks, rolling around on his billiard table with a hairy and bearded Trotskyite. When he challenged her to explain herself, she reportedly replied, “Chill out daddio and get groovy”.

Prince Philip allegedly never forgave the Queen Mother for these incidents, believing that it had exposed the heir to the throne to dangerously radical and liberal ideas, not to mention firm young breasts – Prince Charles was immediately sent to an all-male boarding school in Scotland. Undeterred, the Queen Mother later attended the Isle of Wight festival, where she dropped acid with Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison and danced naked, save for the Crown Jewels, on stage during the Doors’ performance of ‘Light My Fire’. Even towards the end of her life the Queen Mother still enjoyed the occasional spliff. Indeed, at Christmas 2000, after smoking one of Prince Harry’s joints, she laughed so much at Prince Charles’ ‘white eared elephant’ impression that her colostomy bag burst, showering the Archbishop of Canterbury with shit.

It was not just the Queen Mother’s drug-taking which was frowned upon by the establishment – her string of affairs with showbiz personalities including Errol Flynn, Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix were thought to be setting a bad example to both the public and the younger Royals. Her relationship with Sammy Davis Jnr in the early 1960s not only incurred the jealous wrath of jilted former lover Frank Sinatra, but also caused a constitutional crisis – there were fears that the mother of the Monarch might marry a man who was not only black, but Jewish to boot, thereby threatening the purity of the Royal bloodline. Incredibly, according to Ropley-Tossington’s book, the British Secret Service conspired with Frank Sinatra to use his Mafia contacts to have Davis ‘rubbed out’. However, the Queen Mother broke off the affair before this plan could come to fruition.

Whilst in the main portraying the Queen Mother as a fun-loving libertine, Ropley-Tossington’s book also reveals a darker side to her character, claiming that she was behind the assassination of Princess Diana. “The motive was revenge,” he says. “Several years earlier Diana had chased the Queen Mother around the drawing room of Kensington Palace with a red hot poker, after she learned that the Royal matriarch had stolen the affections of a young stable lad with whom she had been having an illicit affair”. Not surprisingly, most of the claims made in Ropley-Tossington’s book have been met with scepticism. Indeed, many experts believe that the Queen Mother is, in fact, not dead at all. Top conspiracy theorist Sam Nodger believes that she was rejuvenated using the murdered Princess Diana’s organs, and is currently living in Brazil in the guise of a twenty-nine year old topless fashion model. Leading Royal expert Roger Todgingly, however, claims to have seen the Queen Mother dressed in rags and swigging meths with tramps near King’s Cross station in London. “Her disguise was very good, but I knew it was her immediately – that big floppy hat was a dead giveaway,” he says. “Tired of being constantly pampered and always in the public eye, she faked her own death and simply opted out of society – who can blame her?”