On Wednesday September 14, he was there – stiff as a post – alongside the royal family to pay a last tribute to Elizabeth II.
The general public does not know him, and yet Paul Whybrew served the Queen of England for more than four decades.
In a tail coat, the 63-year-old valet did not take his eyes off the coffin which was entering Westminster Hall.
As a last
to the one he served until the end of his life.
"The Keeper of Secrets"
Paul Whybrew had become "the keeper of secrets" of the Queen of England.
(Windsor, November 19, 2004.) Getty Images
From the height of his meter ninety-three, the one nicknamed “Tall Paul” (understand “Grand Paul”) was, obviously, difficult to ignore.
But it wasn't his size that made him so remarkable.
Rather the fact that, despite crises at Buckingham Palace, staff squabbles and Windsor clan storms, Paul Whybrew is still loyal to the job.
This son of a bank manager worked, in fact, for Elizabeth II for 44 years.
In 2021, he even became the oldest member of staff at Buckingham Palace.
Decorated with the Royal Victorian Order for his good and loyal service, Paul Whybrew would never have had an enemy within the royal family.
Better still, he was the listening ear on whom the Queen of England could always count.
“The keeper of the queen’s secrets”, describe him as several British media.
It was, for example, “Tall Paul” who handed the phone to the Queen when Prince Harry, exiled in California after the “Megxit”, made phone calls to him.
He was also the one who took out the
to check the schedules of the monarch's favorite television programs.
And it was once again Paul Whybrew who, when Elizabeth II was ordered to no longer take her traditional glass of gin and Dubonnet in the evening, replaced it with apple juice.
Read alsoThe little story of the “Dubonnet cocktail” that Elizabeth II tasted religiously every day
A move to Windsor
Born in 1959 in Braintree, Essex, Paul Whybrew is the second of four children.
Coming from a modest family, he dreamed from high school to serve the royal family.
His first job was as a junior footman, but he was quickly scouted by "Her Majesty the Queen" due to his skills with corgis.
The beginning of a long career.
Read alsoNever without my corgi: diving into the great life of the dogs adored by Elizabeth II
Since then, the discreet and modest "Tall Paul" has made a place for itself.
So much so that the servant now has his own quarters.
When in 2006 the Queen decided to spend more time at Windsor Castle, she asked him to leave London and move in with her.
Very hesitant at first, he finally accepted.
“He could have found any job in the private sector and earned a lot more, but it never crossed his mind,” a friend of his told Royal Correspondent Richard Kay of the
Forced to leave London, Paul Whybrew abandoned his modest apartment located above the old stables of Kensington Palace for a more opulent house in the large park of Windsor.
To convince him, Elizabeth II would have even suggested that he decorate it to his liking and send him the bill, we whisper in the English press.
In video, Elizabeth II, an exceptional destiny
At the heart of the Fagan affair
Whatever happens, the queen has always been able to count on her devoted valet, in good and bad times.
The latter probably avoided a tragedy occurring in 1982, when a 34-year-old Briton, Michael Fagan, broke into Buckingham Palace and then into Elizabeth II's room, finding himself face to face with the sovereign.
After having succeeded in calming the intruder, Paul Whybrew will offer him a glass of whiskey before delivering him to the authorities.
Another anecdote, this time funnier: it is “Tall Paul” in person that we see escorting the queen and agent 007, played by Daniel Craig, in the short film which caused a sensation at the opening of the London Olympics in 2012.
Read alsoThe Fagan affair, that night when Elizabeth II managed to calm a fanatic who entered her room
However, all these years of service have not been without sacrifice.
All his life, Paul Whybrew remained single, “married” only to his duty, his friends joke.
The price to pay to occupy one of the most intriguing places in the monarchy.
Monday, September 19, like the Windsor clan, he will still be there to accompany his beloved queen on her last journey.