Gyles Brandreth: How well does the author and TV personalty know the Royal Family?

CHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 16:  Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall receives her honorary doctorate from the Chancellor of the University of Chester Gyles Brandreth (L) during the University of Chester's graduation ceremony in Chester Cathedral where she received an honorary doctorate in recognition of her commitment to promoting literacy and celebrating literature on March 16, 2018 in Chester, England. (Photo by Peter Byrne - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla and Gyles Brandreth at the University of Chester Graduation ceremony, 2018. (Getty Images)

The former MP and TV personality Gyles Brandreth has written a biography of Queen Elizabeth II that has included some eyebrow-raising claims about the royals.

Currently being serialised in Daily Mail, Brandreth's latest offering - Elizabeth: an Intimate Portrait - is his fourth royal biography and is set to be published on 8 December.

The author and TV personality has shared a range of insights in the extracts.

He detailed the private sense of humour the late Queen displayed to those close to her — including how she responded to an intruder threatening to kill her with wry wit.

Brandreth has also explained what Queen Elizabeth really thought about her childhood nickname being given to Meghan and Harry's daughter Lilibet and her opinion on the Sussexes exit from life as Senior Royals, subsequent move to California and television interview with Oprah.

The author also has explored in his new work how the Queen spent her time after her husband Prince Philip died throwing herself into her duties, and why the couple lived apart after the duke's retirement from public life.

In another of the excerpts, Brandreth writes: "Thanks to my friendship with Prince Philip, I was often given privileged access to the Queen, to walk and talk with her as she went about her official duties", which he "recorded" in the "diary [he has] been keeping since 1959".

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Gyles Brandreth, TV and radio personality, at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, on October 13, 2021 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
Gyles Brandreth at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. (Getty Images)

Brandreth's first book — Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage — was published in 2004 and was called "the product of a sweatily over-heated imagination [...] the kind of imagination a snob possesses, elated by a dizzy dream of high society and of his own exclusive access to it" at the time.

He is reported to have been a "close friend" of Prince Philip, but said to The Times in 2021 after the Duke of Edinburgh's death about their relationship that "the duke showed me great friendliness over 40 years, but royalty offer you friendliness, not friendship, and you have to remember the difference".

Brandreth is said to have first met the Queen when he was 20 years old, in 1968. He knew Prince Philip through working together on the National Playing Fields Association and has said that the duke "was so unlike the caricature" of how he was publicly known, and instead was "normal, nice and relatively easy to get on with if you were getting on with it".

He has also previously written that Philip did not want to live to be 100 years old, and that the duke had said he couldn't "imagine anything worse" and that "I have absolutely no desire to cling on to life unnecessarily".

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Gyles Brandreth attends the Upstart Crow press night at Gielgud Theatre on February 17, 2020 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Gyles Brandreth attends the Upstart Crow press night at Gielgud Theatre in London, England. (Getty Images)

Brandreth served as the Conservative MP for the City of Chester from 1992-97. Prince Philip, he has said, "thought I was mad" for choosing the political career path, but when Brandreth failed to retain his seat Philip "was marvellous; he rang up and offered to help. I did the first personal interview with him. That led me to do the biography of him".

The former MP has since carved out a successful post-political career, and seen him write prolifically on many topics including prison reform, puzzles and fiction.

He has also appeared on television and radio widely, frequently appearing on breakfast shows, Channel 4's Countdown, Just a Minute, and Celebrity Gogglebox, to name a few.

Whilst attending the University of Oxford, Brandreth directed dramatic performances and was President of the Oxford Union — he has said of his undergraduate years that they were "foundation of [his story]. I think everything I've done in my life reflects my three years as an undergraduate at New College".

Oxford University students Eliza Manningham-Buller and Gyles Brandreth, members of the Dramatic Society, rehearse for pantomime 'Cindarella', Oxford, UK, 7th November 1968. (Photo by Rex George/Daily Express/Getty Images)
Gyles Brandreth rehearsing for pantomime 'Cinderella', whilst a student at Oxford. (Getty Images)

Prince Philip was not the only member of the Royal Family that Brandreth has enjoyed proximity and "friendliness" with over the years: the author has also known Camilla, the Queen Consort, since they were teenagers.

The author even has written that he and actress Joanna Lumley "hosted a happy luncheon to mark Camilla's 75th birthday".

He met the now-Queen Consort in the 1960s at her grandparent's home — Hall Place — whilst attending the £40,000-a-year Bedales boarding school nearby and has admitted to having a "secret crush" on the teenage Camilla.

LONDON, ENGLAND- JULY 12: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall with Derek Jacobi (L) and Gyles Brandreth (R) as the Duchess celebrates her 75th birthday at a lunch, hosted by the Oldie Magazine at the National Liberal Club on July 12, 2022 in London, England. The lunch organized by Gyles Brandreth and the Oldie was arranged to celebrate the Duchess's birthday but also celebrates people over the age of 75 who are continuing to serve. The theme is
Gyles Brandreth with Camilla at the 75th birthday lunch he hosted for her in London. (Getty Images)

Watch: Tampongate - the real impact of Charles and Camilla's 6-minute phone call