Paul Whybrew, alias “Tall Paul” (“Grand Paul”) is 1.94 m tall, medal on the chest and bald head. In the last procession on the evening of Monday September 19, in Windsor, when the coffin enters the chapel of Saint George for the burial, he is one of the very few to follow him, without being of the family. Its correct title is: “the Queen’s personal footman and ground floor page”. But unlike Private Secretary Edward Young, Paul is something else. It’s the intimate. And the humor, sometimes dark that she loved to do. It is the “keeper of secrets”. Sixty-three years including 44 at his side! A life dedicated to Elizabeth! To the point of remaining single.
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He was 19 when he began his service with the queen. He is the age of Andrew the Queen’s third child and just 11 years younger than Charles, the eldest. This boy absolutely wants to work for the royal family. He was born in 1959, grew up on the Essex coast in a modest family, his father was a bank manager. As soon as he finished high school, he went to London and managed to get hired as a “junior footman”. Alongside another Paul (Paul Burrell) hence the nickname given to him by the Queen: there is “Tall Paul” and there is “Small Paul”. It must be said that he amazes her quite quickly with the way he transports his corgis dogs. What is not given to everyone! And then, his feat: in 1982 it was he who neutralized the individual who entered the Palace one night, even into the Queen’s bedroom. From the height of his 23 years, he catches the guy, takes him to the butler’s pantry, serves him a glass of whiskey and waits until the police arrive.
There is a protrusion that Tall Paul may have thought about in the solemnity of today’s funeral. A reporter from the Daily Mail revealed it a few days ago. We are in April 1986, at the funeral of the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, her sulphurous American aunt (whom she did not like very much). It’s raining cats and dogs, the queen is amused to see that the open tomb is filling with water. She leans towards Paul and dares this very English marine metaphor: “If we can’t bail it out, we’ll put it in the water!” (implied, it’s more of a funeral, it’s a ship launch). She’s Queen of England and we’re burying her aunt.
Tall Paul has never made a misstep in 44 years. Clearly, we have to cry genius! Never angry with any family member. It’s also what keeps him with her. Until the end, he gives her the phone calls from Harry who is calling from California. He turns on the TV at the right time. At the time of Covid-19 in 2020, he is the only one authorized to approach with Angela Kelly, his costume designer. On the death of her husband, Prince Philip, when the doctor recommends stopping the Gin – Dubonnet cocktail – he switches to apple juice. He means so much to the Queen, that in 2006 – she has just turned 80 – she begs him to come and settle in Windsor and she finances everything. He would have wanted marble, she would have paid. Tall Paul is in the photos of the jubilees: gold, diamond… and platinum this year 2022. Of course, for the Olympic Games in London in 2012, it is he who escorts her with James Bond in this video where she leaves parachute for the opening ceremony.
We don’t yet know what will become of it. In the royal family, your contract expires six months after the death of the one you serve. The most likely is that he will go away and shut up! He will not publish three books like the costume designer. This Monday evening in any case, he sleeps in Windsor. Close to his queen.