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'It's all so sad.'Scroll down for more Dance partner: The Queen Mother was nearing 100 at this informal staff party at Birkhall, her Scottish retreat on the Balmoral estate, and only Backstairs Billy dared take her carefully by the hands and whisk her gently round the floor.
The premature death of George VI the following year, aged 56, propelled him sooner than expected into a new role working for the Queen Mother at her new home, Clarence House. The Queen Mother's approval long before homosexuality was accepted as part of everyday life (indeed, even when it was still illegal) was more than just a case of royal indulgence.
Charles, and later Diana, wrote him many letters, and some of these are in Saturday's auction.
Billy always kept a signed photograph of the newly-wed Prince and Princess of Wales in his home near Clarence House.
So does the delight on the face of an onlooker, the Prince of Wales.
The debonair figure with whom the Queen Mother is having such fun is Backstairs Billy, son of a Coventry shopkeeper, who served the Royal Family for 51 years.
Billy was with the royals so long that he achieved celebrity in his own right.