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THE NATION'S GRANDMOTHER: 10 MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN THE QUEEN MUM'S LIFE.

BILLY TALLON: Her most faithful retainer and one of her closest confidants. He was her page for 51 years and a key member of her 80 staff.

She relied on him to serve her meals, tidy her room and push her wheelchair.

Coventry born Billy's childhood ambition was to work in the royal household. On leaving school he became junior assistant in the Steward's Room at Buckingham Palace. The Queen Mother asked him to work for her after George VI died.

Billy, 66, said: "She was the most incredible lady I have ever met. She was - is - unique and irreplaceable."

LADY MARGARET RHODES: Was at the Queen Mother's bedside when she died. She is her niece - daughter of her sister Mary and Lord Elphinstone - and the Queen's cousin and oldest friend.

She was the Queen Mother's lady in waiting for 11 years with the title Woman of the Bedchamber. She accompanied her on engagements, dealt with much of her personal correspondence and acted as her eyes and ears on the world outside the Royal Family.

Lady Margaret, 76, said: "She was just a wonderful person to know."

PRINCE CHARLES: Her eldest and favourite grandchild. Their close bond was forged during his boyhood.

The Queen had to devote her time to affairs of state and four-year-old Charles was often cared for by his grandmother. She introduced him to classical music, fostered his love of fly fishing and gardening and was a shoulder to cry on when his marriage to Diana broke down.

In return he quietly funded his debt-ridden grandmother to the tune of pounds 80,000 a year.

THE QUEEN: The Queen Mother had a loving relationship with both her daughters but a smoother one with the Queen. They shared a rigid sense of duty and a passion for horseracing.

ANDREW PARKER BOWLES: Ex-husband of Camilla, he was the Queen Mother's favourite godson. He is a leading member of the racing fraternity and former chairman of Sandown Park racecourse. He always accompanied her to the Grand Military Meeting at Sandown and the Cheltenham Festival.

LORD THURSO: Met her when he was only three and was a close friend for almost 50 years and neighbour when she bought the Scottish Castle of Mey.

LORD ST JOHN OF FAWSLEY: The Tory ex-Cabinet Minister said yesterday: "Even as one grieves one rejoices at a life so fulfilled and devoted to the service of others."

SIR ALASTAIR AIRD: Her private secretary and comptroller. As she became more frail, Sir Alastair, 71, frequently attended events as her representative and occasionally acted as her spokesman. Her Mr Fixit would brief visitors on etiquette - and hosts on the correct measures of gin and Dubonnet to serve her.

NICKY HENDERSON: She spoke to Henderson, her principal racehorse trainer since 1993, up to three times a week to monitor her horses' progress. He said: "We had a lot of fun."

LADY PAMELA HICKS: Daughter of Lord Mountbatten. Despite a 30 year age gap was a close friend and confidante as lady in waiting.

CAPTION(S):

Alastair Aird; Henderson; LOYAL: Billy was page for 51 years; Parker Bowles
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 2, 2002
Words:518
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