Fury over book's claim that Queen Mother and her brother were born to family's French cookExtraordinary claims that the Queen Mother’s real mother was her family’s French cook are to be made in a sensational new book.
Aristocratic author Lady Colin Campbell says the domestic help may have been ‘an early version of surrogacy’ for both Elizabeth Bowes Lyon and her younger brother David.
The cook, an ‘attractive and pleasant Frenchwoman’ called Marguerite Rodiere, gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth because her own mother Cecilia, who already had eight children, was unable to have any more.
Elizabeth with her mother Cecilla in 1923. It has been claimed in a new book that a cook gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth because her own mother was unable to have any more children
The astonishing claims are contained in ‘The Queen Mother, The untold story of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, Who became Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’, on sale next month.
The publication of the extracts could not have been more ill-timed, as the Queen on Friday held a service of remembrance for her beloved mother to mark the 10th anniversary of her death.
The allegations immediately came under fire from royal experts.
Elizabeth Bowes Lyon at the age of seven. The Queen Mother's exact date of birth in August 1900 as the fourth daughter of Lord Glamis, later 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, has always been disputed
‘Lady Colin Campbell has been pushing this bizarre theory for some time in conversations etc. and I have to say I think it is complete nonsense.
Elizabeth and her brother in 1904
Royal author Michael Thornton said: ‘I suppose that Georgie Campbell, whom I have known for many years, was faced with the same difficulty confronting all biographers of the Queen Mother: namely that everything of importance has already been said, leaving it difficult to find anything new to say.
‘But I have to say that I utterly disbelieve this claim on her part, and without DNA evidence to support it, there is absolutely no way now of proving it.
'I think it is unfortunate to publish this allegation in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.
'It is bound to distress the Queen, and most particularly the Prince of Wales, who was devoted to his grandmother.’
The Queen Mother’s exact date of birth in August 1900 as the fourth daughter of Lord Glamis, later 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, has always been disputed.
It also remained unclear whether she was actually born in the back of a London ambulance or the family home, St Paul’s Waldenbury, in Hertfordshire.
Another puzzle has been why the Queen Mother, born the Honourable Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes Lyon, was given a French middle name.
But Lady Colin, who has herself had a colourful life after being raised as a boy during her early years in Jamaica, says the mother may have been another member of the household.
Elizabeth with her brother in 1915. Another puzzle has been why the Queen Mother, born the Honourable Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes Lyon, was given a French middle name
‘The two Benjamins, as they were known in the Bowes Lyon family (in a Biblical allusion to the brother of Joseph, who was himself the product of a coupling between his father and his mother’s maid) were supposedly the children of Marguerite Rodiere, an attractive and pleasant Frenchwoman who had been the cook at St Paul’s Waldenbury and is meant to have provided Lord and Lady Glamis with the two children they so yearned for after Cecilia was forbidden by her doctors from producing any more progeny.
‘Hence the nickname of Cookie, which the Duke and Duchess of Windsor took care to promulgate throughout international society once Elizabeth proved herself to be their most formidable enemy.’
In the book – the first chapter of which has been published on her U.S. publishers’ website – Lady Colin, says Cecilia Glamis never recovered from the death in 1893 of their eldest child Violet.
She writes: ‘Claude Glamis had no problem fathering children, as his wife Cecilia had proven eight times over. Nor did she have problems producing healthy, happy, good-looking and charming children.
Lady Elizabeth with her parents and the Duke of York in January 1923 shortly before they got engaged
Violet died of heart failure following a bout of diphtheria, less than three weeks after Cecilia had given birth to her youngest son Michael.
According to Lady Campbell: ‘Lady Glamis was an exceptionally loving mother who lived primarily for her children.
'Already emotionally vulnerable following the latest birth, she was devastated by the death of this child whom she always said was “beautiful” and admitted to her dying day to missing.’
‘She would always remain fragile, both physically and personally, and while she recovered sufficiently to resume her role in Society, she was prone to nervous attacks which incapacitated her for the remainder of her life.’
From left: Queen Mary, King George VI, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) holding Princess Anne, Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip) and Queen Elizabeth ('Queen Mum') holding Prince Charles
‘As King Edward VIII, David had access to all the information about Elizabeth’s secret which was not so secret in aristocratic and royal circles.
‘When he discovered, to his horror, that Elizabeth was actively scheming with his own courtiers to undermine his position as king and prevent him from marrying the woman he loved, he used the wealth of access at his disposal to circumvent his own private and deputy private secretaries and obtain sight of the documents, which confirmed that Elizabeth had been born, not of 4th August as supposed, but on 3rd August at St Paul’s Waldenbury to Marguerite Rodiere.’
The publication of the extracts could not have been more ill-timed, as the Queen on Friday held a service of remembrance for her beloved mother to mark the 10th anniversary of her death
Lady Colin says that’s why thereafter, Elizabeth was known as Cookie.
She writes: ‘For those who asked, as I did when I was a late teenager, why she was being called by that nickname, there was always a member of the Windsor circle willing and able to recount how the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth, Queen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Empress of India, Queen of Canada, Australia, etc,etc, was not even legitimate, but the daughter of the 13th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and St Paul’s Waldenbury cook, Mademoiselle Marguerite Rodiere.
‘Whether this was indeed the case, none of us will ever know definitively unless DNA studies are done on Elizabeth and Cecilia to establish whether they shared a genetic link.’
Royal biographer Michael Thornton said: ‘It actually doesn’t make any sense. I did investigate all these rumours while I was researching Royal Feud, and I found absolutely no hard evidence whatever to support them.’
Surrogacy and the upper classes
It was not unusual for the upper classes to use 'surrogacy' arrangements to create large families
It was not unusual for the upper classes to use ‘surrogacy’ arrangements to create large families, the book claims.
In the days before antibiotics, child mortality rates were high and sole male heirs stood a good chance of being killed in a war.
As a result, Lady Colin claims it was important that aristocrats left a ‘spare heir or two’, and sometimes enlisted the aid of their domestic staff.
‘The grander the couple, the more likely that there was a serious problem, for great estates were entailed upon the title, meaning that a peer could not leave his property to whom he pleased,’ she said.
‘The aristocracy was filled with horror stories about widows and daughters of great peers living in penury while some distant cousin was lording it over them.’
Lady Colin refers to the time when George VI allegedly took offence to the growing friendship between the young Princess Elizabeth and ‘Little Porchy’, who later became Lord Carnarvon.
According to Lady Colin, the King is alleged to have said: ‘Young Porchester is charming, but there is no possibility of my condoning a union between a daughter of mine and a butler’s son.’
Writer who revealed the 'secrets' of Diana in first warts-and-all account of marriage to Charles
Lady Colin Campbell was brought up as male until she was 18
Colourful biographer Lady Campbell first annoyed the upper classes with her explosive 1992 biography of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Called Diana In Private, it was the first warts-and-all account of her disastrous marriage to Charles and came out shortly before Andrew Morton’s controversial biography.
Lady Campbell, also known as Georgie Campbell, later published a second book, The Real Diana, which revealed more shocking ‘secrets’ including a string of alleged affairs. Scandalous at the time, the book was derided by royal experts.
In 2004 she claimed Diana and King Juan Carlos of Spain had had an affair during a cruise in August 1986.
She wrote: ‘Diana did it to make Charles jealous, but it didn’t work. Charles couldn’t have cared less.’
Born in 1949 into the Ziadie family, one of Jamaica’s most influential clans, Lady Campbell was first registered as a boy, George William, due to a physical defect.
She continued to be brought up as male until she was 18, when she had an operation to correct the defect.
She spent much of her early life in the U.S. and later worked as a model in New York, where she was regarded as a society beauty.
She moved to Britain after marrying Colin Campbell, younger brother of the 12th Duke of Argyll, but the union lasted only 14 months.
A newspaper later claimed her husband had not known about her physical history when they married and that some of his friends alleged that he had married a transvestite.
Lady Campbell successfully sued every newspaper that implied this, and blamed her ex for selling the story.
She said at the time: ‘It was awful. It is offensive beyond belief. It was rape.’
Seven years ago she was forced to pulp her book about a ruthless murderess after the world’s richest widow, Lily Safra, threatened to sue her.
She re-published her book Empress Bianca with certain tweaks, insisting it was fiction.
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