Inside the Queen's circle of trust

Inside the Queen's circle of trust


The Queen’s circle of trust: From her beloved sister to her ladies-in-waiting and dresser Angela Kelly, how the monarch relied on a select number of women throughout her life

  • The Queen, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, has died at the age of 96, it was announced last week 
  • Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became Queen on Feb 6 1952 aged just 25, when her father George VI died
  • Throughout her life, the extraordinary royal was supported by a select number of women who stood by her
  • One of her closest friends was her dresser Angela Kelly, who was one of the Queen’s closest advisers
  • Full coverage: Click here to see all our coverage of the Queen’s passing

Throughout her extraordinary life as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, the Queen surrounded herself with a tight circle of friends upon whom she could trust and rely. 

The group was eclectic, to say the least. From her beloved sister Princess Margaret, to her ladies-in-waiting and her dresser Angela Kelly, the monarch, who died last week at the age of 96, was supported by a select number of women.

The Queen’s ladies-in-waiting, personally chosen by the monarch, had a variety of duties including attending to private and personal matters for the Queen and handling her correspondence. 

They included her senior lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, who was married to the late BBC chairman Marmaduke Hussey. 

The Queen’s ladies-in-waiting were also been part of HMS Bubble – the name given to the reduced selection of around 20 staff attending to the Queen at Windsor during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of the ladies-in-waiting had been with the Queen for more than 50 years and acted as both friends and loyal assistants, and their discretion and support proved invaluable to her. 

Meanwhile she was close with her daughter Princess Anne, with whom she shared a love of riding and horses, as well as being particularly close to  Prince Edward’s wife Sophie. 

Throughout her extraordinary life as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, the Queen surrounded herself with a tight circle of friends and loved-ones upon whom she could trust and rely  (pictured, with Princess Margaret attending The Royal Ascot race meeting, on June 20, 1996) 

From her beloved daughter Princess Anne (left) to her daughter-in-law Sophie Wessex (right), the monarch, who died last week at the age of 96, was supported by a select number of women

Among those who were closest to the Queen was Angela Kelly, who went from royal dresser to becoming one of her dearest confidantes 

Meanwhile Lady Pamela Hicks (pictured right) had known ‘Lillibet’ since her teens when a young Elizabeth fell in love with Pamela’s cousin Philip 

Princess Margaret 

The Queen’s sister Princess Margaret dedicated her life to service and to upholding the values of Monarchy (pictured left, the sisters on the terrace steps at the back of the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, April 1940, and right, on April 17th 1940, on the fourteenth birthday of Princess Elizabeth) 

Princess Margaret spent her life dedicated to the monarchy, despite her public perception as a fast-living socialite who spent much time partying and lounging about in the Caribbean

The public perception of Princess Margaret remains that of a fast-living socialite who spent much time partying and lounging about in the Caribbean. 

But less well known was that she also dedicated her life to serving her sister and to upholding the values of Monarchy.

It was a quality the Queen appreciated in full measure, and from time to time she defended her younger sister from what she considered to be unfair attack by MPs and others.

Margaret’s attitude towards her sister, the Queen, was reportedly erratic and often discourteous. On the one hand, she was the most loyal of supporters. ‘My task in life is to help the Queen,’ she often said.

But on other occasions her actions betrayed a resentment and indifference towards her sister that left even long-serving courtiers who knew her well shaking their heads.

At a state banquet in 1957, when the Queen was complimented by a Government Minister on her evening dress, Margaret casually remarked in front of other guests: ‘Darling, that does show your bosom too much.’

And when the Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary in the same year, Margaret missed a celebration dinner, to go to a West End musical with friends.

She returned to Buckingham Palace at midnight when the party was nearly over, without a present, a card or even an apology.

As the Queen made clear to Margaret, she had to protect the Monarchy. She was acting as Sovereign first, sister second.

By Margaret’s funeral in 2002, the monarch’s attitude toward her sister seemed to have softened. She took Anne Glenconner to one side and thanked her for bringing Roddy Llewellyn into Margaret’s life. 

She told her: ‘I’d just like to say, it was rather difficult at moments but I thank you so much for introducing Princess Margaret to Roddy. He made her really happy.’

This was quite a remarkable turnaround by the Queen. It seemed as if she had learned, through her own travails with her children and their marriages, to be more accepting and understanding.

The final decade of Margaret’s life had brought the Royal sisters together in a way they had not experienced for many years, the Princess proving herself time and again a loyal and devoted supporter. Particularly during the Queen’s ‘annus horribilis’ in 1992, with the separations of the Duke and Duchess of York and of the Prince and Princess of Wales, Princess Anne’s divorce and the Windsor Castle fire.

After embarrassing photographs were published of the Duchess of York having her toes sucked by her ‘financial adviser’ John Bryan by the side of a villa pool in the South of France, Margaret, no stranger herself to compromising pictures, sent Sarah Ferguson a withering letter.

It said: ‘You have done more to bring shame on the family than could have been imagined. Not once have you hung your head in embarrassment even for a minute after those disgraceful photographs. Clearly, you have never considered the damage you are causing us all.’

Princess Anne 

Princess Anne was born in 1950 and was the the Queen’s second child, after big brother Charles, becoming one of the Queen’s closest confidantes 

The two women are understood to have grown closer in recent years, with the Queen coming to rely on Princess Anne greatly before her death (left, on day three, Ladies Day, of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England; right, Royal Ascot 2017 at Ascot Racecourse)  

Princess Anne was born in 1950 and was the the Queen’s second child, after big brother Charles. 

The two women are understood to have grown closer in recent years, with the Queen coming to rely on Princess Anne greatly before her death.

The experts believe that the Queen has given her daughter more and more responsibility as she is someone she can trust. 

She is similar to her father in character, with one biographer writing: ‘She gets on with it – she never complains.’ 

Sources previously said Princess Anne’s role in the family had also grown following the Duke of York’s sex abuse scandal, with one saying she was ‘likely to become a much more important figure’ in the family following Andrew’s ‘early retirement’.

Royal author Phil Dampier told the Telegraph: ‘Anne is much closer to the Queen than she used to be. She’s always been close to her father, because she’s very similar to him.

The expert also went on to claim that the Queen is much more reliant on the Princess Royal after Prince Andrew’s involvement in the Epstein affair.

In an indication of their close bond, the Princess Royal accompanied the Queen on some of her final public appearances throughout the pandemic (pictured left, visiting the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute in July 2021 and October 2021) 

And in her final official public appearance before her death, the two travelled to Maidenhead to visit Thames Hospice (pictured) 

‘Unlike her younger brother, she’s extremely discreet and not likely to make any faux pas. She’s a safe pair of hands,’ Dampier said.

Despite Princess Anne’s own scandals in the past the experts said that she’s successfully managed to put them behind her, while its ‘too late for Andrew to do the same.’ 

Strong and opinionated, she has a waspish wit and is a staunch believer in ‘The Firm’, once saying: ‘I don’t think this younger generation understands what we were doing in the past.

‘Nowadays they’re much more looking for “Oh, let’s do it a new way” and I’m already at the stage of, “Please do not reinvent that particular wheel.” ’

Of her mother, Anne said simply: ‘She is remarkable.’

Statement: Princess Anne released this statement (pictured). She offered her ‘thanks to each and every one who share our sense of loss’

In the final years of the Queen’s life, Princess Anne accompanied her on a host of different engagements including, poignantly, the monarch’s first official visit north of the border following the death of her husband Prince Philip. 

The pair made several appearances in Glasgow as part of the Queen’s traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week in 2021. 

Meanwhile the Princess Royal also joined the Queen as she used a walking stick for support for the first time in public while attending a service of thanksgiving to mark the centenary of the Royal British Legion at Westminster Abbey in October 2021. 

And in her final official public appearance before her death, the two travelled to Maidenhead to visit a hospice. 

The princess was in Scotland when the Queen was taken ill, and stayed at her bedside at Balmoral Castle, as senior royals rushed to say their final farewells.

The Princess Royal watches as the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is taken to a hearse as it departs St Giles’ Cathedral

Princess Anne, Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence watch as pallbearers carry the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II from St Giles’ Cathedral

Anne has taken on the duty of accompanying her mother’s body back to London, with the Queen leaving Scotland for the last time bound for RAF Northolt on Tuesday.

Lady Myra Butter 

Lady Butter, who was a descendant of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and the poet Pushkin, was among the friends oldest friends until her death earlier this year. 

She was a close friend of the Queen her entire life, having been amoung one of several youngsters enlisted by Buckingham Palace to join the Princess in childhood activities like swimming to girl guiding.

She previously described the monarch as having ‘very good sense of humour which has gone on for all her life’.

Speaking to The Telegraph in 2021, she revealed how she got to know the Queen as a child, saying: ‘[Buckingham Palace] They got hold of some girls to be part of the thing to make it more fun.

‘In the Guides and the Brownies it was a real mixture, which was really nice, some friends, friends of [the family], and all the people in the Royal mews, their children, they were Brownies and Guides. Just a normal sort of pack really.’

And Lady Butter was also in the 1st Buckingham Palace Company of Girl Guides with the Queen, when it launched in 1937. The Queen was in the Kingfisher patrol, Lady Butter in Robin.

Lady Butter previously told DailyMail about the experience, revealing: It was great fun. We learnt how to do Morse code and tie knots.’

She could also remember listening to Edward VIII’s abdication broadcast on the wireless, saying: ‘I thought it was the end of the world.

‘We haven’t got a king, what’s going to happen now?’

And speaking to Tatler in 2020, she said: ‘[For our] social life, we had a few concerts and the local 82nd Airborne Division was stationed near us, so we got to know them, and the local Air Force used to appear.

‘But really, the only place where there was some- thing going on was at Windsor Castle, because the Girls’ Brigade was stationed there, and their parties were a highlight; if you were lucky enough to get asked to one, you had a really wonderful time.

‘Everyone came up and everyone danced their heads off. A lot went on, because I think you would have gone crazy if you hadn’t had fun.’

The monarch later attended her wedding to the late Major David Butter in Westminster in 1946, with the couple going on to have five children with one another.

And last year, she opened up about the Queen’s grief for her husband Prince Philip, telling ITV his dedication to duty meant ‘nobody could have done that job’ as he had done.

She said: ‘There’s nobody, in my mind, who could have done that job. Nobody. Dedicated to it, and very intelligent and youthful.’

Offering an insight into the Queen’s grief, she said the Duke was ‘the Queen’s world’ and that she would be ‘lost’ without her husband.  

The Queen’s oak coffin, accompanied by Anne and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, travelled to Buckingham Palace where King Charles III, the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be waiting to receive it.

She made history when she became the first royal woman to take part in the ‘Vigil of Princes’ – standing vigil by her mother’s coffin alongside her brothers King Charles, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.

During the 20-minute vigil at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Princess Anne, who wore her navy ceremonial uniform, kept her eyes fixed towards the floor.

And yesterday, the Princess Royal paid tribute to her mother and said it had been ‘an honour and a privilege’ to accompany the Queen on her final journeys as she travelled with the monarch’s coffin back to London.

Princess Anne, the late monarch’s only daughter, told how she was ‘fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest mother’s life’.

She said the love and respect shown to the Queen on her journey from Balmoral to Edinburgh and onto London had been ‘both humbling and uplifting’.

Anne also thanked the nation for the ‘support and understanding offered to my dear brother Charles’ as he takes on his duties as King.

Anne’s full statement said: ‘I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest mother’s life. It has been an honour and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys.

‘Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting.

‘We will all share unique memories. I offer my thanks to each and every one who share our sense of loss.

‘We may have been reminded how much of her presence and contribution to our national identity we took for granted.

‘I am also so grateful for the support and understanding offered to my dear brother Charles as he accepts the added responsibilities of the monarch. To my mother, The Queen, thank you.’

Her tribute was shared to the Royal Family’s Instagram account along with a photo of Anne and the Queen, which was first released to mark the late monarch’s 90th birthday in 2016. The mother and daughter posed on a sofa in the White Drawing Room of Windsor Castle.   

Angela Kelly 

The Queen and three-times-divorced Miss Kelly – a Roman Catholic crane driver’s daughter from Liverpool – spent over 20 years forging an intriguingly close relationship.

Angela was born in 1952, barely eight weeks after the death of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne, into a fiercely patriotic Roman Catholic family with strong seafaring roots and a tough work ethic.

Her father Thomas was, like his father before him, a merchant seaman, who risked his life to escort convoys across the North Atlantic during World War II and survived a torpedo attack by German U-boats. Her mother, Teresa, was a nurse who also drove wartime ambulances.

Post-war, money in the Bradley family was tight — along with space in their Liverpool council flat. Thomas worked as a crane driver in the docks and later as a factory hand and a train driver as he tried to make ends meet.

It was these days, a friend previously said, that taught Angela her resilience and fortitude.

‘Money was tight and so was discipline,’ a source said in 2014. ‘Honesty and loyalty were traits she inherited from her strict but loving parents.

‘She learnt to sew at her mother’s insistence, made clothes for her dolls, then progressed to pattern-cutting her own designs on material she could find in local flea markets.’

Glamorous on a budget and always immaculately turned out, Angela was known for her love of The Beatles and for being gregarious and fun. 

Married and divorced three times, she has three children whom she left to be brought up by their father, Frank Wylie, her first husband.

She married the shopfitter in 1971, a month after her son Frank, now 43, was born. A year later, she gave birth to Paul, now 41, and then daughter Michelle, 40.

But by the early 1980s, the marriage was over and the then Mrs Wylie went to Germany without her children — virtually unheard of at the time — to work in the catering department of the British Army.

A brief marriage to a German man later ended in divorce before she met husband number three, Irish Guardsman Jim Kelly, in 1989.

The Queen and three-times-divorced Angela Kelly – a Roman Catholic crane driver’s daughter from Liverpool – spent over 20 years forging an intriguingly close relationship

They married in 1992, after returning to England, but split three years later. 

The turning point in Angela’s life came in March 1991 when the Queen Mother came to Germany to present the Royal Shamrock to members of the Irish Guards during the traditional St Patrick’s Day regimental ceremony.

As a housekeeper at the Ambassador’s Residence, it was Angela who was responsible for preparing the Queen Mother’s room and catering for her every whim.

Despite their close friendship, the pair have rarely been spotted in public with one another – although they did attend a London Fashion Week together in February 2018 (pictured left and right) 

Lady Pamela Hicks 

Lady Pamela, 91, daughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten, has known ‘Lillibet’ since her teens when a young Elizabeth fell in love with Pamela’s cousin Philip. She was a bridesmaid at the couple’s 1947 wedding, later serving as a lady-in-waiting.

She was with the couple in Kenya in 1952 when King George VI died as the Royal party slept in the Treetops Hotel.

‘She climbed up that ladder as a Princess and then, in the morning, she came down the ladder as Queen,’ Lady Pamela famously recalled.

Lady Pamela remained a confidante of the monarch. She was by her side for some of her most defining moments. 

For her own wedding, she had Princess Anne as a bridesmaid alongside Princess Clarissa of Hesse, her goddaughter Victoria Marten and her niece’s Jonna Knatchbull and Amanda Knatchbull.

In recent years Lady Pamela has spoken more about the roles and relationships within the royal family via India’s podcast, and shared her thoughts on the coronation in an ITV.

Recalling the coronation in 1953, Lady Pamela said: ‘[The Queen] looked so frail, just this one young woman.

‘Seeing her, this young woman of 27, utterly alone, I wondered how she’d have the strength to undertake this duty all her life. I think one knew she would, because there’s such inner strength there.’

She also shared her thoughts on the royal wedding, describing it as surprisingly chaotic.

She told how the Queen’s bouquet couldn’t be found. Her pearls were also missing, until someone remembered at the last moment that they had been displayed with the wedding gifts.


She also became close friends with the Queen Mother’s own devoted personal dresser, Betty Leek, and witnessed the close working relationship between the two women.

‘There’s always a job waiting for you back in England,’ a clearly impressed Queen Mother told her when Mrs Kelly dropped a farewell curtsey upon her departure back to the UK.  

Mr Kelly recalled: ‘Angela made sure her room was in tip-top condition and that whatever she needed was in the house. She had a great rapport with her. We were later invited to a drinks party at Clarence House to thank her.’

Not long after, in October 1992, Mrs Kelly met the Queen herself when she and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Berlin and the two began building a friendship.  

She was so close to the Monarch that she has written two books with the Queen’s approval and lived in a grace-and-favour home in the grounds of Windsor Castle. The Queen was often spotted ‘nipping in for tea’. 

The esteem in which Mrs Kelly was held is reflected in the fact that she was made a lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order.

She received this honour, which recognises personal service to the monarch, at an investiture at Buckingham Palace in 2012 with her daughter Michelle, son-in‑law Simon Anson and their two children.

While their relationship was a professional one — Angela addressed the Queen as ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘Ma’am’, while the Queen called her ‘Angela’ — the two women loved to discuss their families when they meet at Angela’s home at Windsor. 

The dresser’s influence even extends to the younger Royals – with Prince George christened in a lengthy robe made by Miss Kelly, who learnt sewing from her mother and aunt.

It was a replica of the original Honiton lace and white satin christening robe designed for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter in 1841, which has since been worn by almost every member of the Royal Family but has now become too delicate to use. 

Ms Kelly broke in Her Majesty’s shoes by wearing them and she wa nicknamed AK-47 – a play on her initials and the firepower of the Soviet-era assault rifle.

She said simply: ‘I love the Queen and everything about her. She has allowed me to become closer to her over the years.

‘We talk about clothes, make-up and jewellery. We are two typical women.’ 

Miss Kelly was famously accused of being part of a row with Prince Harry over which tiara Meghan would wear when the couple wed.

The row allegedly resulted in Prince Harry raising his voice at the Queen when he called her and said: ‘I don’t know what the hell is going on. This woman needs to make this work for my future wife.’

A source stringently denied that Harry yelled at his grandmother but made no mention of Miss Kelly in their rebuttal. 

The two women remained exceptionally close over the Queen’s final year –  she was called upon to cut the Queen’s hair when usual protocol could not be followed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

And earlier this year it was revealed the Queen moved Angela into Windsor Castle to aid her with ongoing mobility issues. A source reportedly told the paper that Kelly ‘lives there now. She has moved in’. 

The stylist was understood to be staying in a suite next to the monarch’s private quarters. 

Miss Kelly was famously accused of being part of a row with Prince Harry over which tiara Meghan would wear when the couple wed 

Sophie Wessex 

Her Majesty’s daughter-in-law Sophie, 56, was often been noted as the monarch’s ‘favourite’ family member and closest confidante, after she married Prince Edward. 

She ran her own PR company before marrying Prince Edward and earned the Queen’s trust by throwing herself into Royal life. 

Sophie formed a close bond with the royal family after losing her own mother, Mary Rhys-Jones, to stomach cancer in 2005 aged 71, when her daughter Lady Louise Windsor was only two. 

Speaking in 2021, one friend said: ‘Sophie set herself a series of tasks. She learned how to ride properly and now rides with the Queen at least once a week.

Her Majesty’s daughter-in-law Sophie, 56, was often been noted as the monarch’s ‘favourite’ family member and closest confidante, after she married Prince Edward (pictured together at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2022)

‘She took up carriage-driving to be close to Philip. She had her own series of scandals before her marriage when she was accused of cashing in on her Royal connections, but she calmly put all that behind her and has been an exemplary daughter-in-law.’

One former aide described the Queen’s relationship with Sophie – who lost her own mother, Mary, in 2005 – as ‘like mother and daughter’, adding: ‘There is a great deal of love and mutual respect between them.’

Sophie previously explained to the Telegraph how these visits during lockdown involved the Queen standing on a 20ft high balcony and waving down. 

A tearful Countess of Wessex described the queen as ‘amazing’ as she and her husband Prince Edward comforted Her Majesty at Windsor Castle following the death of her husband Prince Philip.  

One former aide described the Queen’s relationship with Sophie – who lost her own mother, Mary, in 2005 – as ‘like mother and daughter’ (pictured together in February 2015 at a reception at Buckingham Palace) 

Royal sources over the years said that Sophie was among the Queen’s most ‘trusted’ confidantes, with one saying she was ‘relied on like few others’

Royal expert Duncan Larcombe said the Countess became the Queen’s unlikely ‘rock’ as the monarch adjusted to life without her husband Prince Philip (pictured, together in October 2019) 

The couple were the first to visit the grieving Monarch after his death, and as they left the castle Sophie was visibly upset.

At the time, she was described as one of a group of four who were providing support for the monarch.

‘Sophie is like another daughter to the Queen, they are that close,’ said a Royal source. ‘She is trusted and relied on like few others.’

The pair were said to speak at least once a day and enjoy regular Saturday ‘movie afternoons’ when they would watch old films together.  

And speaking in June last year, royal expert Duncan Larcombe told The Sun: ‘Sophie has emerged as the Queen’s unlikely “rock” as the monarch adjusts to life without Prince Philip.’

Sophie Wessex (pictured left), the wife of the Queen’s youngest son, showed her unwavering support to her husband this afternoon as she joined the royal family in procession to escort the Queen’s coffin down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

Sophie, who was wearing all black, appeared deep in thought as she followed the procession in a car. Her husband Prince Edward was on foot 

Since her mother-in-law’s death Sophie has showed her unwavering support to her husband and the family as she joined the royal family in paying tribute to the Queen.

Earlier this week, she was among the procession to escort the Queen’s coffin down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. 

Wearing a black suit and a matching headpiece, Sophie looked sombre as she joined her fellow royals for the deeply solemn 1,200 yard procession, which took place in bright sunshine, with hundreds of well-wishers lining the city’s oldest streets.   

Lady Sarah Chatto 

Daughter of the Queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret, Lady Sarah is one of the most low-key Royals yet held a very special place in Her Majesty’s affections. Pictured: The Queen with Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones

Another key figure was her niece, the lively Lady Sarah Chatto, 52, Princess Margaret’s daughter who married artist Daniel Chatto.

Daughter of the Queen’s late sister, Lady Sarah is one of the most low-key Royals yet held a very special place in Her Majesty’s affections. 

One royal insider previously said: ‘The Queen adores Sarah and seeks out her company as often as possible. She is her absolute favourite younger Royal.

‘They are hugely at ease in each other’s company. Much giggling can be heard when they are together. They share a sense of loyalty, fun, duty and the ridiculous.’

In a sign of her close relationship to the Queen, Lady Sarah was often photographed travelling with the monarch to church in Balmoral

Once her own children were grown up, Sarah frequently stayed with her aunt.

Friends said she so reminded the Queen of her younger sister Margaret, whom she desperately missed after her death in 2002.

Lady Sarah kept an eye on the Queen, and reportedly worried she worked too hard. 

Margaret Rhodes 

Margaret Rhodes was among the Queen’s closest confidantes until her death in December 2016.

Her white-painted house in Windsor Great Park had been, for years, the Queen’s first port of call when she needed someone close enough to talk through private problems.

The two, who were first cousins — Mrs Rhodes’s mother was the Queen Mother’s elder sister — virtually grew up together. 

Mrs Rhodes was then one of the bridesmaids at the Queen’s wedding to Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey in 1947. 


In a sign of her close relationship to the Queen, Lady Sarah was often photographed travelling with the monarch to church in Balmoral. 

Lady Chatto has not been seen since the Queen’s death, and it is not currently known if she will join the royal family in London this week.

She is expected to be among the attendees who will be at the Queen’s funeral on Monday.  

Lady Farnham

Diana Maxwell, Lady Farnham, who had been the Queen’s Lady of Bedchamber since 1987 and rode with the Queen on the way to her Diamond Jubilee service in 2012, died four days after Christmas aged 90. 

She had joined the Queen on royal tours during her 44 years of service, including the highly successful tour of the Republic of Ireland in 2011 due to her Irish connections. 

Lady Farnham was married to Barry Maxwell, the 12th Baron Farnham – a top City banker and Irish peer who died in 2001.

A royal source told The Telegraph: ‘It is very sad for the Queen. Everyone loved Lady Farnham, she was always so good humoured. She was also a very glamorous and attractive woman.

‘She was always very generous to new people joining the household. 

‘They were dear friends who supported the Queen on official duties. Unfortunately a sad consequence of living a long life is that you have to say goodbye to a lot of people you care about.’

Lady Farnham was a close friend and supported the Queen for decades, most notably sitting alongside the monarch during Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012 when Prince Philip was unable to attend.

Born Diana Marion Gunnis, she married Lord Farnham in 1959.

The couple adopted two daughters, Harriet, 57, and Sophia, 54, and had four grandchildren – Araminta, 28, Henry, 26, Elsa, 15 and Celia, 13.

Lady Farnham joined the Royal Household in 1987, more than 30 years after Duchess of Grafton, but she was appointed Commander, Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 1998 after the Queen recognised her personal service.

She was then appointed Dame Commander, Royal Victorian Order, an award made personally by the Queen for services to the sovereign, in 2010.  

The Queen’s longstanding Lady-in-Waiting Diana, Lady Farnham pictured accompanying the monarch during the State opening of Parliament in the House of Lords

Queen Elizabeth’s Lady-in-Waiting Lady Farnham (pictured right) has died aged 90

Queen Elizabeth sat at the State Opening of the Houses of Parliament with husband Prince Philip and her ladies-in-waiting to the right

Who were the Queen’s Ladies-in-Waiting?  

The Ladies-in-Waiting were personally chosen by The Queen. 

Ann Fortune FitzRoy, Dowager Duchess of Grafton. 

The Duchess was appointed the prestigious Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 1980 and their close relationship was underlined when she made the monarch the godmother to her second daughter in 1954.

She was also only one of two Mistress of the Robes during the Queen’s reign – formerly a role wielding responsibility for the monarch’s clothes and jewellery. 

She first joined the Royal Household in 1953, the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation, as Lady of the Bedchamber for the Queen, before becoming Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the New Year’s Honours list 1965. 

Lady Susan Hussey 

Lady Susan Hussey, 82, also acted as a senior Lady-in-waiting to the Queen. She was the is the fifth and youngest daughter of Geoffrey Waldegrave, 12th Earl Waldegrave and  Mary Hermione, Countess Waldegrave, and was married to the late BBC chairman Marmaduke Hussey.

The other Ladies-in-Waiting are: –

Susan Rhodes

Susan Rhodes was appointed as an Extra Lady-in-Waiting in 2017 alongside Lady Elizabeth Leeming.

She was believed to be part of the HMS bubble and joined Her Majesty at the Centotpah in November 2020.   

Mrs Rhodes was married to Simon Rhodes, the son of the late Margaret Rhodes.

Lady Elizabeth Leeming

Lady Elizabeth Leeming, The Queen’s first cousin once removed was appointed a lady-in-waiting in 2017.

She was the daughter of the 17th Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne, Fergus Michael Claude and Mary Pamela McCorquodale. 

Virginia Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie,

She was born in the New Jersey and is the daughter of John Barry Ryan Jr., and Margaret Kahn and is married to David Ogilvy, 13th Earl of Airlie.

She has joined the Queen on trips to the US and met President and Barbara Bush at The White House.  

The Hon Mary Morrison

She is the daughter of John Morrison, 1st Baron Margadale and Margaret, Lady Margadale (née Smith). Her father and brothers were active as politicians of the Conservative Party. 

Richenda Elton, The Lady Elton

She is married to Rodney Elton, 2nd Baron Elton, a former Conservative member of the House of Lords 

The Hon Mrs Whitehead, Annabel Whitehead

Previously a lady in-waiting to Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. Since her death in 2002, she has held the office of Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth II

Mrs Michael Gordon Lennox, also known as Jennifer Gibbs

A former lady-in-waiting to the Queen mother 


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