As the woman he believed to be the true queen of Canada sat in a nearby RV, a man dressed in a camo shirt and hat delivered a rousing speech to the 40 people who’d come together in a Peterborough, Ontario, park, ready to arrest the city’s entire police department.
“Today we are going to turn the members of the Peterborough Police Station over to the U.S. Special Forces Military, the Canadian Military, and the Global Military Alliance who will be here to pick them up once we detain them,” he said to the crowd.
With a megaphone in hand and dozens of other loyal subjects chattering excitedly behind him, he marched upon the Peterborough Police station. The group felt unstoppable. After all, they had the backing of their queen, a figure spawned from the online QAnon movement. Earlier in the week, she’d told her thousands of Telegram followers that the cops needed to pay for their crimes: enforcing COVID restrictions and infringing on their freedom.
But the station’s locked door promptly thwarted their quest for justice. They pleaded with the police through the megaphone to come outside to be arrested. When that didn’t work, they made their way behind the station, where they once again yelled at closed doors.
Then a car of officers pulled into the parking lot for a shift change, and the group’s leader made his move. “You guys are involved in the COVID crimes, and I’m placing you under arrest,” he said.
“Actually, you are,” a nearby cop responded.
A melee quickly broke out. As two cops grabbed the first conspiracy theorist and threw him to the ground, another follower tackled some of the officers. Through sobs and screams, the crowd started chanting “Stand down.”
In the end, three people would be arrested, two of whom were charged with assaulting a police officer. The day marked a clear escalation for the so-called queen and her followers, who had never resorted to violence for their sovereign before.
Her military forces never did arrive.
The “queen” in question, Romana Didulo, is an internet personality who claims to be the one, true leader of Canada, waging a secret war against a cabal of pedophilic elites. But her mythos has moved far beyond typical QAnon musings and into the truly bizarre. She now claims to be an extraterrestrial spiritual leader with access to secret, New Age healing technology. She also routinely threatens to execute her enemies—as well as anyone who disobeys her. Yet to her followers, she’s the ultimate defender of the weak, a harbinger of a better age.
“She is, I would say, one of the most dangerous QAnon influencers within the movement, if not the most dangerous,” Alex Mendela, an associate analyst at Alethea Group, an organization that monitors disinformation including the QAnon movement, told VICE News. “Inevitable confrontation might end up becoming violent. She very much dehumanizes and desensitizes her audience to violence.”
Inspired by the anti-COVID trucker protests in Canada earlier this year, Didulo has been driving across the country in RVs since February, alongside a rotating cast of followers, and holding gatherings in department-store parking lots. The “mobile government,” as it’s been dubbed, can draw quite a crowd, as it did in Peterborough. Altogether, her fans across Canada almost certainly number in the hundreds.
Online, she has tens of thousands of followers hanging on her every word and showering her with adulation. And they’ve opened their purse strings for her: Within two months earlier this year, Didulo raised over $140,000 in donations, according to documents seen by VICE News.
Offline, she has her staff, a group of about 12 people who’ve given up their day-to-day lives to travel with her. They wear matching uniforms—white shirts emblazoned with QR (for Queen Romana) on the chest. The “volunteers,” who range in age from 20s to 70s, chaperone her around. (Didulo doesn’t drive.) They’re also expected to shop and cook for her. A former follower told VICE News that Didulo once woke her up at 4 a.m. to turn on her hotel coffee maker.
That kind of deep devotion has led some experts to describe the group as a cult.
"More and more, it seems like that's the case,” said Christine Sarteschi, an associate professor of criminology at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. “Those anecdotes that her former followers tell, the way she treated and manipulated them, are really important and points us in the direction that she does seem to be a cult leader."
But Queen Romana, as she calls herself, doesn’t always demonstrate that same loyalty to her followers. In March, she unceremoniously abandoned most of her staff in Newfoundland—perhaps Canada’s most isolated province—and recruited all new volunteers. Now, months later, some of her marooned followers are coming forward to speak out about the mistreatment they suffered and raise concerns that their former leader is dangerous.
“The abuse was non-stop. It was never-ending,” said Daisy, a former follower who says Didulo left her in Newfoundland.
“No proper meals, you know? No sleep,” Daisy added. “She didn’t care. She said, ‘If you work for the queen, you work for the queen. You volunteered to be here. Why are you complaining?’”
Daisy said she lost 10 or 15 pounds during her time with Didulo.
Every morning at 6 or 7 a.m., the queen would play her favorite song, disco supergroup Boney M.’s smash hit Rasputin, about the well-endowed Russian mystic of the same name. Often, the funky vibes would last an hour. Once, Didulo played Rasputin for the entire duration of a 10-hour drive while her “staff” just sat and listened. (Her followers even recorded their own version of the song with lyrics about her.)
“It's like, ‘Oh my fucking lord, what are we doing? What the hell?” said Corey, another follower allegedly abandoned in Newfoundland. “She’s yelling, 'We got a war, people! Time to get up!' and dancing around like a lunatic.”
Didulo almost certainly wouldn’t be where she is without Corey and Daisy. The two served as administrators of her online Telegram channels. Corey eventually became her mechanic and one of her “security guards.” Daisy cooked and handled the bookkeeping.
“She was using me as her bank account,” Daisy said. “All the money that was donated was going into my bank account. I was the one controlling the expenses, and it was for her.”
Both Corey and Daisy, who are married, asked VICE News to withhold their last names in fear of retribution from Didulo. In the queen’s world, naysaying is treason, which is supposedly punishable by death. Corey said that Didulo threatened to have him killed several times by a variety of methods, including being shot in the head or thrown from a helicopter. One of his many transgressions worthy of death? Booking a pickup time for an RV at 5 p.m. instead of 4 p.m.
"She said, 'Nobody controls my timeline. Anybody that screws up my timeline is going to be tried for treason and shot in the head,'" Daisy said.
Didulo’s history before becoming “queen” remains relatively unknown. She’s said she came to the U.S. from the Philippines as a young girl with her uncle. Then, in the early 2000s she presented herself as an online entrepreneur and started and closed several corporations that apparently never did much business. In one livestream, she said she used to be homeless and slept on the floor of her friend's nail salon.
In 2020, Didulo entered politics. She began portraying herself online as the leader and sole member of a political party of her own design called the Canada 1st Party of Canada (much like Donald Trump’s “America First” slogan). That quickly morphed into presenting herself as the queen of Canada.
The outlandish self-promotion went nowhere until a well-known QAnon figure “confirmed” her in early 2021. At the time, the titular “Q,” who drops clues for the community on 8kun, had disappeared, and Didulo stepped into the power vacuum. In a matter of months, her popularity exploded. She continued to grow her following by making violent threats against politicians and people giving COVID vaccinations. To this day, her followers routinely celebrate secret executions they believe have happened.
"I can't think of anyone necessarily who's quite like this, who's intertwined so many different ideas, like these fantastical ideas mixed with QAnon ideas,” Sarteschi said. “In some ways, I’m not surprised, because I think if you believe in one conspiracy idea, I don't think it's a stretch that you might believe in others.”
Didulo once urged a group of her followers to attack and kill people facilitating COVID-19 vaccinations when she gave the go-ahead. Over a hundred followers volunteered to be part of the group, which she dubbed the “duck hunters.”
“Shoot to kill anyone who tries to inject Children under the age of 19 years old with Coronavirus19 vaccines/ bioweapons or any other Vaccines,” she wrote on Telegram. “This order is effective immediately.”
The plan caught the attention of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who sent her for a wellness check, although she was eventually released. One of her followers in Quebec was also arrested after allegedly threatening to shoot up his daughter's school for offering free vaccinations. (No charges have been filed.)
But up until early 2022, Didulo had never appeared in public.
That all changed when the truckers began to occupy Ottawa with vague demands that Canada’s freedoms be returned and COVID restrictions be lifted. Didulo saw their popularity and decided to take her life offline. But she needed the help of the people who moderated her Telegram channels, her most trusted allies. These people would become her first “staff,” and none were more important than Corey and Daisy.
In late January, Corey and Daisy picked Didulo up from the room she rented in a house just outside of downtown Victoria, British Columbia. The couple described the room as filthy and full of stuff, like a storage space.
“We went up there and then she told us, ‘Oh, don't call me queen right now because everybody here knows me as Romana, and nobody knows that I'm living a double life,'” Daisy said.
That day, Corey and Daisy drove Didulo to meet about 50 cheering fans at the launch point of her convoy, behind Victoria’s Parliament building. One person broke into tears upon seeing her. VICE News also attended, and Didulo refused to answer any questions when asked. (VICE News has requested to speak to her several more times over the months and has never received a response.) From there, five vehicles, including several rented RVs, and about 15 people began their trek toward Ottawa at a breakneck pace.
“They made the whole trip to Ottawa non-stop. We were in the trailing van, and if we were not within sight of the vehicle, we would get a call to go faster,” Chris Cowan, a videographer who hopped in with Didulo when the group passed through Calgary, told VICE News. "It was aggressive.”
After arriving in Ottawa four days later, Didulo held an event alongside the truckers, where at least 40 followers lined up in front of the Parliament building and held purple flags with her self-made logo—a sword bifurcating a maple leaf and the words “God Loves You.” The scene almost looked like a royal procession.
But during her speech, Didulo misread the crowd and attempted to burn a Canadian flag. That set off the truckers, who considered themselves hardcore patriots. Several people started booing and heckling her. Even a few of her own followers—Corey included—started to lose their faith in her.
In response, Didulo turned on the truckers. She immediately posted several videos to Telegram ordering them to go home and accused them of being in the pocket of George Soros, the Chinese Communist Party, and the New World Order.
“The ancient Royal Families, white hats military, global alliance, galactic and intergalactic alliance federation of worlds of light beings have been working for thousands of years to free Planet Earth. And suddenly you say truckers freed the world?” she wrote. “Get your head out of the toilet bowl, eh?”
But Didulo’s wrath isn’t just directed at her political enemies. Her staff was also routinely punished.
Cowan told VICE News that Didulo once told him he was lucky to be alive after he took one of the group’s RVs to pick up electronic parts and dinner without the queen’s explicit permission.
“You can't split up the convoy, otherwise our military is going to shoot you,” Cowan said Didulo told him. The next day, he and a few who’d gone with him were “relieved of their duty.”
“The driver, she was crying, she was in tears. She really thought it was her destiny to be there. I felt bad for her. It was sad,” he said.
Then, when Cowan took back his personal equipment the convoy was using to produce the queen’s Telegram videos, Didulo accused him of hijacking the RV and kidnapping several of her staff members.
“A reminder…” Didulo wrote shortly after on Telegram, “in the Kingdom of Canada...Treason = Death Penalty.” She shared photos of Cowan, along with his phone number and social media profiles. She called him a “Deep State Agent /infiltrator” and implied he was a devil worshipper.
“He will not survive what is coming,” one of the queen’s followers wrote in response. “Fan of satan and a traitor," wrote another. "Maybe he should be the first [to] hang publicly, for the other traitors could see what to expect?”
“I didn't answer a single phone call, but my phone was constantly blowing up with Telegram messages and text messages,” Cowan said. “Then a few people found my personal Facebook page and commented randomly on some posts. One of them, like a 60-year-old woman, looks really nice, and she was like, 'You will burn!'”
“Her followers think that's what I needed,” said Cowan, who left the convoy after that. “Like, these people are brainwashed.”
Despite the “queen” losing followers over the “hijacking” and flag-burning incidents, she still managed to convince her fans of her royal grandeur. A few days after Cowan faced down Didulo’s army of angry followers, Didulo found out Fox News was interviewing truckers. She told her followers the right-wing television station was dying to interview her, too.
“This is your opportunity to break the story that Canada has a new queen, and you don’t seem too interested,” Didulo said to the Fox News cameraperson, while one of her followers filmed the encounter.
“Oh, I had no idea,” the man responded.
“I’ll make sure that your commander-in-chief in the United States Army knows about it,” Didulo said, and then walked away angrily without being interviewed. Her followers scoffed at the cameraman's ignorance.
Then, Didulo lost her RVs because of a contractual issue, and the whole group had to hole up in a hotel for over a week. For a good period of that time, Corey and Daisy said Didulo made them keep a room open (for more than $300 a night) just in case Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped by.
“I invite President Putin to join the NATO alliance to continue to preserve peace and prosperity around the world,” she said in a Telegram livestream from one of her hotel rooms. “I welcome you to the Kingdom of Canada.” She would later claim that Putin gifted her an autographed watch.
After that, Didulo’s convoy rented RVs from private owners and decided to tour eastern Canada. But Corey and Daisey’s time with the group came to a furious end a few weeks later in March in Newfoundland.
Murmurs of discontent were already brewing among her staff, according to Corey and Daisy. They were tired of driving long hours and being forced to do Didulo’s bidding 24/7. The trip was also only supposed to go across Canada, but Didulo wanted to go to the U.S. afterward for an undisclosed period of time. Some, including Corey and Daisy, had left children behind.
Didulo said to move them in with family members.
Finally, one morning—the day after she’d subjected some of her followers to over 10 straight hours of Rasputin—Didulo demanded her followers skip breakfast and get on the road immediately. When Corey and Daisy said no and shut the door to their room in her face, the situation erupted. Didulo stormed off and left most of the group, including a child, 3,000 kilometers, or almost 2,000 miles, away from their homes.
The entire situation was a "total mindfuck,” Corey said. Didulo quickly turned on him and Daisy, just like she did Cowan. She posted about them repeatedly and dubbed them “traitors.” The abandoned group felt the need to watch their backs as they made the long trip home in rental cars.
They did not listen to Rasputin.
After their time with the convoy, Corey and Daisy helped organize a group of dozens of Didulo’s former followers dedicated to bringing her down from the outside. The group works as a team to watch where she’s going and call the venues, sometimes getting her meet-ups canceled. They also troll her followers and send DMs to true believers to get them to question their beliefs.
The group, which organizes on a Telegram page, is a major thorn in Didulo's side. She recently pleaded with her audience to get the page "banned and deleted from ALL PLATFORMS'' because it's run by a "traitor who was with the previous team that deserted HRM [her royal majesty] Queen Romana and the MISSION."
After the majority of her volunteers were allegedly kicked out of the convoy in Newfoundland, many thought that Didulo, who had left with just two dedicated followers, would fail. But if anything, her staff grew. She found another group of "volunteers,” rented more RVs, and bought one for $62,000, while a fan gifted her another one.
“I don't think that makes them simple people or stupid people,” said Mendela, at the Alethea Group. “Everybody's sort of looking for those simplistic solutions to complex problems. But that's where she draws people in—it’s that it's no longer waiting around for somebody else to do something.”
The group of new followers currently with Didulo is mostly white people of retirement age. One man and woman used to host a conspiracy podcast focused on COVID-19 health measures and naturopathy. They acted as the group's “journalists” and gave travel updates online. But Didulo eventually kicked the man off the bus, accusing him of leaking information.
The man made a tearful video of apology.
“A personal message to Queen Romana,” the man begins, “I love you and I would lay my life down for you.”
The woman remains with Didulo as one of her most public devotees and her “spokesperson.”
Diane Benscoter, a former cult member and the founder of Antidote.ngo, which aids people in deprogramming and returning family members or friends, said that the incredible political strife of the past few years and the proliferation of the QAnon conspiracy has allowed groups like Didulo's to flourish. And this one specifically has many markings of a cult.
Benscoter is currently helping several people who have loved ones following Didulo.
"It's horrible. It's like a form of death, but they're still there, so the person that they were is just gone and they've become this person that is hateful and spiteful and arrogant and spend all their time, every waking moment, listening to this stuff online,” said Benscoter. “It's just so hard for people to deal with this."
While all the touring appears to be feeding Didulo's ego, it's also allowing her followers to network. They’d previously organized regional chat groups to send out bogus cease-and-desist letters regarding COVID-19 to a plethora of people, including but not limited to politicians, businesses, teachers, fast-food workers, soldiers, journalists (like this one), and gas station employees. In several cities and towns across the country, groups of dedicated followers now meet to discuss Didulo and other conspiracy theories.
“At first, it was four people in a living room, and then there were ten people in the shop, and then it was 20 people and 40 people and 50 people,” someone who attended one of the most prominent meetings, told VICE News. “The night I was there when she came to town was definitely the most people I had ever seen.”
They did not want VICE News to use their full name.
Didulo often forces her staff to make videos of support. In one recent filming, they all declared their love for her and swore they weren’t being “held hostage.” In another, some of her followers broke down crying while talking about how much they loved her. Multiple people said they used to feel like black sheep but now they feel accepted.
“It’s almost surreal. I don’t feel like I’m here in some ways, but I am,” said a woman named Mary, Didulo’s current chief of staff, in a video. “It’s so touching to be chosen out of 38.3 million people to be here. I can’t express my gratitude.”
“I couldn’t be more blissed [Didulo’s way of saying “blessed”] to be here with everyone on this whole team,” she continued.
But other followers don’t seem to be enjoying the rule of the queen.
“It is what it is,” one recently wrote in response to a follower saying how painful and isolating being in the movement is. “My family won't talk to me anymore, so I just send my heart out to them and keep detachment for now.”
In addition to causing emotional damage, Didulo’s “decrees” have also gotten followers into serious financial trouble. After she declared utlities free in Canada, many of her subjects stopped paying those bills. At one point, Didulo even wrote a post instructing her followers how to remove utility companies from their online banking payments. Many of her followers incurred late fees or mounting debt, and some have had their power cut off.
“My lovely neighbour told me all about you and our decrees. Her power and gas has been shut off for a couple of weeks now. I’ve stopped paying mine as well,” one follower wrote to her. “Will these reconnections be done sometime soon? It’s very hot here and… I worry about my neighbours' health.”
So, when does this road trip end? Perhaps never, if Didulo has her way. She has a staff, thousands of online followers who will harass people in her honor, and hundreds meeting her in department store parking lots to worship her.
Like any good monarch, she’s starting to colonize. Didulo has now crowned several royals in other countries, like Austria and the UK, and even named an Arizona man “King of the Kingdom of America”—though she’s already feuding with him. Recently, she declared herself Queen of the World.
“The only visible leader on this planet is her royal majesty Queen Romana, period, and that’s a mic drop,” she told her followers in a Quebec campground.
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