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The Queen Mother was always renowned for her alleged tolerance of homosexuals - perhaps not surprising considering the notorious and flagrantly homosexual adventures of her own brother, Sir David Bowes Lyon, who, though married with children, was addicted to all-male orgies at which young men were bidden to wear football shorts.Meanwhile, the Queen Mother's marriage to 'Bertie', into which she entered with extreme reluctance while in love with his handsome equerry James Stuart, was not always the blissfully happy union of legend.

But he deferred to her influence, just as her daughter does now.' On the outbreak of war in 1939, the Windsors' enforced return to Britain was met with complete ostracism by the Royal Family, led by the Queen Mother's announcement that she would not meet the Duchess. ' she wrote to her mother-inlaw, Queen Mary, in a less than kind reference to the woman who had been her sister-in-law for more than two years.

They were confined in the Royal Earlswood Mental Hospital at Redhill, Surrey, in 1941, where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Although the Queen Mother knew the statement in Burke's Peerage that both women were dead (published after false information had been supplied by their mother) was untrue, she never visited either of them, and apparently saw no contradiction in her patronage of Mencap, which campaigns against families placing their mentally challenged relations in state care.

Referring to her husband's appointment as Governor of the Bahamas, the Duchess told me at our 1971 meeting: 'We were then offered this pathetic little job in a ghastly backwater.

It was designed to get us out of the way, but even tried to stop that.' Indeed, the Queen wrote to the Colonial Secretary, Lord Lloyd, predicting that if the Duke became Governor, 'a very difficult situation will arise over his wife'.

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