Buckingham Palace dragged into a row with historians over the fate of the late Queen’s personal letters and diaries – as the King entrusts loyal palace aid ‘Tall Pall’ with his mother’s private papers
- King Charles has entrusted Paul Whybrow, known as ‘Tall Paul’, to sort papers
- Historians say decision to allow a palace aide with such as task is ‘concerning’
- They fear vital historic documents might be suppressed or even destroyed
Buckingham Palace has been dragged into a row with academics over the fate of the late Queen’s personal letters and diaries.
The Mail on Sunday revealed that the King has entrusted loyal Palace aide Paul Whybrew, known as Tall Paul, to sort through the Queen’s private papers before they are transferred to the Royal archive in Windsor.
But academics have described the decision as ‘deeply concerning’, fearing that vital historic documents may be suppressed – or even destroyed – without public knowledge.
A year on from the Queen’s death, an announcement has yet to be made over which historian will be granted the job of writing Elizabeth II’s official biography.
It means that, for now at least, Palace courtiers rather than highly skilled impartial experts are left to decide what ought to be kept and what should be destroyed.
History lecturer Dr Alison McClean from the University of Bristol said: ‘The late Queen’s diaries have the potential to become a significant historical resource.
The King has entrusted loyal Palace aide Paul Whybrew, known as Tall Paul, to sort through the Queen’s private papers before they are transferred to the Royal archive in Windsor
Academics have expressed their fears over the decision, with one saying he is ‘undoubtedly a valued and trusted member of the Royal Household with an intimate knowledge of its inner workings – however, he is not a qualified historian or archivist’
‘Mr Whybrow is undoubtedly a valued and trusted member of the Royal Household with an intimate knowledge of its inner workings.
READ MORE: Prince Harry ‘turned down King Charles’ offer to spend anniversary of Queen’s death at Balmoral with his father’
‘However, he is not a qualified historian or archivist and may not fully grasp the historical significance of the material contained within these diaries.
‘There is also a risk that he will feel duty bound to place his loyalty to the Royal Family above the interests of historians and researchers.’
Biographer and historian Andrew Lownie, who is campaigning for greater openness from the Royal archives, said: ‘The Royal Family have a history of destroying records and there are worries this may happen again.
‘It is important that an official biographer for both her and Prince Philip, with unfettered access to their papers, is announced soon and that any censorship is done with a light touch.’
A high-profile historian, who asked not to be named, said: ‘This is a clear break with the way that it has been done in the past.
‘By doing it this way [with an aide going through the documents] you are hobbling the biographer and the biography and you are deciding that your judgment is more important than the judgment of a historian.’
Another well-known historian added: ‘We have to remember the enormous damage that Princess Margaret did when she went through the papers of the late Queen Mother.
‘She made a bonfire, put the papers into black plastic bags and burnt them – including letters from Princess Diana.’
An authorised biography of Queen Elizabeth II would be the publishing sensation of the century.
Insiders told The Mail on Sunday that frontrunners include award-winning historian Jane Ridley, who has written a biography of Edward VII.
Another contender is said to be British historian and TV presenter Simon Sebag Montefiore.
King Charles, pictured on his state visit to France this week, has entrusted Paul Whybrow to sort through the Queen’s private papers a year on from the death of his mother
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