The Queen’s mistress and one of her closest and most loyal friends has died at the age of 101.
Anne of Fortune Fitzroy, Duchess of Grafton, died on Friday (December 3) after serving the royal family throughout the Queen’s 69-year reign.
The Duchess was awarded the prestigious Dame Grand Cross of the Victorian monarchy in 1980, an award given by the Queen personally for her services to the King, and their close relationship was underlined when she made the king the godmother to her second daughter in 1954.
It comes after husband Prince Philip died at the age of 99 in April, with the Queen forced to sit alone at Windsor Castle as she mourned the death of her “strength and mentor” over the 73 years or her marriage.
A close friend, the Duchess was one of only two mistresses of robes during the Queen’s reign – which had previously been responsible for the Queen’s clothing and jewellery.
Queen Elizabeth II, followed by Our Lady of Waiting, the Duchess of Grafton, has arrived in the House of Lords for the official opening of Parliament
The Duchess of Grafton (left) pictured with the Queen’s mother walking along the beach at Wellcome Bay in 1987
She first joined the royal family in 1953, the year of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, as the Queen’s bedchamber, before becoming leader of the Victorian monarchy on the New Year’s Honor Roll in 1965.
Born in 1920, she married the 11th Duke of Grafton, Hugh Fitzroy, in 1946.
After his father’s death, Fortune was given the title of Duchess of Grafton three years after she became a master of the wardrobe.
She shared five children with her husband, two boys and three girls, before his death in April 2011.
The Queen became godmother to her second daughter, Lady Virginia Fitzroy, in 1954.
While working primarily behind the scenes, the Duchess has been on all of the most important royal occasions, including state visits and the state opening of Parliament.
Her role as Lady of the Wardrobe also included taking overall responsibility for the rota of Ladies in Wait – friends and assistants of the Queen.
The importance of her role was personally recognized by Her Majesty when the Duchess appointed Grand Lady Cross of the Victorian monarchy in 1980. Only the Dukes of Kent and Gloucester, Princess Alexandra and the Duchess of Kent have been awarded the award for the longest time.
She remained one of the Queen’s oldest and closest friends until her death on Friday.
The Duke and Duchess of Grafton leave Westminster Abbey after Thanksgiving service
The Duchess of Grafton (right) pictured with Lady Diana Spence in June 1981 outside Royal Ascot
It follows a turbulent year for the Queen as she has to deal with the departure of her grandsons Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to the United States and the death of her husband Prince Philip.
Philip was her “strength and mentor” throughout her 73-year marriage and 69-year reign.
The crowds of mourners laying flowers and homages at the palaces became so large that they were told to disperse due to the epidemic that followed his death.
The nation later felt saddened by the images of the heartbroken Queen sitting alone during her husband’s funeral as she had to mourn away from her children and grandchildren during the Covid-Samin ceremony.
Her 95-year-old Majesty wiped away tears and bowed her head in reverence at St George’s Chapel this afternoon as she bid a final, emotional farewell to Prince Philip, whom she has been married for 73 years, while socially distancing. And wear a face mask.
A portrait of Queen Elizabeth during the funeral of her husband Prince Philip, who died at the age of 99
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Peter Phillips, David Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Lawrence follow a Land Rover Defender carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh
The guest list of 800 royals, politicians and celebrities who might have been expected to descend on Windsor for the historic farewell match has been slashed.
Instead, only 30 mourners and four singers were allowed to attend, as bottles of hand sanitizer were distributed.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also said earlier this year that they would no longer be working members of the royal family.
The Queen stressed that the couple will not “continue the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.”